Comfy Life

Profile: Chris Hallas, Director of Sales

Posted by Comfy N. Lovinit on Oct. 21, 2016

Chris is focused on building a customer-centric sales culture. He joined the Comfy team from Opower, helping leading utilities achieve their energy efficiency targets. Originally from Denmark, Chris moved to the U.S. to pursue an energy-focused MBA at U.C. Berkeley. Outside of work he spends most of his time trying to keep his sons, ​Arthor and Finlay​, out of mischief. Fun fact: Chris is Comfy’s designated “Swol-Meister,” keeping our team in shape with a daily exercise regimen to the tune of Danish disco-tech and early-millennium Rap classics.

1.

Tell me about the path that led you to Comfy.

I started my career in the finance world, working for a hedge fund in London, and realized fairly early on that making rich people richer wasn’t much of a mission. I had what you could call a “first-world problem,” everything I thought I needed, interesting work, but this nagging realization that I wanted to be doing something more meaningful. I decided to make the transition to energy, dabbling in the solar industry for a few years in Spain—that’s a whole other story—before eventually hopping over the pond with my wife to attend grad school at Berkeley.

After completing my MBA, I went on to join Opower, an energy efficiency company for utilities, where I worked for several years alongside some of my fellow Comfy colleagues, including Dave. When I found out Dave was leaving Opower to join another startup, I knew it had to be something really cool. I started looking into Comfy and it was clear that this product had the potential to fundamentally change how people experience commercial buildings...so I decided to take the leap. I have to pinch myself sometimes, because the reason I chose to go to Berkeley in the first place was for the cross-campus collaboration between the energy, engineering, and other graduate programs. So if you told me that I would end up working at a company that’s disrupting the CRE space started by other Berkeley grads...it would have been too neat of a story. But here we are!


"It sounds sort of corny, but knowing that we can trust and depend on each other, that we’re all in this together, is really infectious."


2.

What is something you love most about working at Comfy?

One of the great things about this stage of company is the caliber of people we’re able to recruit. When you’re small, young, and essentially inventing a category as we are, it’s always an uphill battle in the sense that we really have to fight to have our message heard. But as a result, the people who are attracted to that are really fantastic to work with. Truth is, everyone [at Comfy] could go work for any one of the larger, cushier, and perhaps more “secure” companies in the Bay Area. But the fact that they’ve chosen to do something different, that’s not obvious, and is somewhat of a risk…that really says something.

Another aspect of a growing startup is that there’s always something new. Just when we think we’ve got something figured out, the landscape changes. So what that means is we’re constantly pulling-in and leaning-on each other, which creates this creative, problem-solving mentality that’s both scrappy and intimate. It sounds sort of corny, but knowing that we can trust and depend on each other, that we’re all in this together, is really infectious. There’s no leaving anyone hanging out to dry. I also recently transitioned into my first management role, which has been a really great experience so far. I feel very fortunate with my team because collectively, they have such a complementary set of skills and are more than willing to share strategies and tactics with one another, which makes each of us stronger individually and more successful as a group.

3.

Is there something you do regularly to get better at your job?

Well, there are two things that come to mind here. The first is that I’ve been really into audio books lately. Reality is, at the end of the day, I’m simply too tired to open a book. So while I would prefer to read, I get a lot more from listening to a book than from all those hardcovers sitting unopened on my shelf! Managing a team has presented a whole new set of interesting challenges for me, so I’ve been listening to things like, “The Sales Manager’s Playbook”, “5 Dysfunction of a Team” and other selections from the “I’m a Complete Nerd” section on Audible to make sure I’m as prepared as possible to tackle those challenges and ultimately be a better asset for my team.

The other thing that’s really important for me is making sure that I “recharge” for a couple of hours when I come home from work. I think we all leave the office with something work-related on our minds, “maybe I could have handled this differently,” or “how am I going to address that.” But when I walk through the door and am greeted by Arthor and Finlay (my two sons), all those thoughts melt away until after they’re asleep, I’ve eaten a proper dinner, and spent some quality time with my wife. Everyone has their own method of stepping away from work and recharging, but I’ve never experienced such an immediate state change as my boys demanding my full attention…there’s simply no room to think of anything else!

4.

If you weren’t at Comfy, what would you be doing?

If I weren’t at Comfy or in the energy sector at large, I would be doing something with Education Technology. I got really excited about Ed-Tech a few years ago when I was first exposed to something called the Khan Academy. The founder, Salman Khan, came to give a talk once at Berkeley. After recording video tutorials for a couple of his younger cousins, Khan started realizing the power of allowing students to work at their own pace and review sections over and over until they finally completely understood…they now have over 5,000 videos available for free, in 65 languages, helping millions of people across the world get a “free world-class education from anywhere.”

The thing is, “modern” schools were developed around the same time as mass production and to this day, they’re essentially run like a factory. So what that means is, you’re done with first grade when first grade is over, and then you’re automatically moved to second grade to create space for the students coming up behind you. But that really makes no sense...you wouldn’t start construction on the second floor of a building if the foundation was only 60% complete, right? Teachers do their best and work hard everyday to make sure none of their students fall behind, and we should be grateful for their patience and persistence, but the challenges are systemic.

So while my heart is in sustainability, I think education is fundamentally important for the future of our world. Honestly, sometimes I feel a bit guilty when I think about the carbon impact I’m having by raising two kids in the developed world. But on the other hand, if I can provide my kids with the right education, information, and attitude....then maybe they can actually be a force for good. So yeah, to sum it all up, I think if I weren’t in energy, I would do something in education.

5.

What does your life look like outside of work?

Well honestly, there’s not a whole lot of room for much outside of kids and work! That being said, I do love playing golf. I actually even considered going pro when I was about 18. When I was growing up, I wanted nothing more than to be a professional athlete. Being a kid and watching pro athletes on TV, those guys are considered modern day heros! But looking back, I have to say I’m pretty happy with my decision...what a tough life that would’ve been. Especially now having kids, I can’t imagine being on the road, away from my family for 35+ weeks a year. There’s a lot of glory for professional athletes and maybe if you’re Jordan Spieth you can use that platform to make a real difference in the world. But reality is, 999/1,000 golfers simply don’t have that capability. They entertain people, myself included, but they make a whole lot of sacrifices along the way. So now, I just play for fun. It’s also my only form of (very minimal) exercise outside of our “swol time”.

So my ideal day off would probably be a bit of sport in the morning with a quick round of golf, then hanging with the boys and Hannah (my wife), and maybe spending some time at the beach. I really try to take advantage of the California sunshine...I mean, I left London for a reason! Then, at the end of the day when the kids are in bed, go out and get a good cocktail and food with some friends in Berkeley. As long as there are nice drinks and spicy food...it’s a good night. Oh and a babysitter...must have a babysitter.


Want to work with Chris? Well, we're hiring! Check out all open positions and apply here.




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