Founders View: A discussion with our CTO Irina Dumitrescu

January 13, 2021

What led you to focusing on ESG in relation to software development?

I saw that ESG is a rapidly growing trend and that the problems it tackles resonated with a lot of discussions I’ve heard before on the data challenges related to climate issues, such as lack of transparency or clear metrics and an impossibility to properly estimate and account impact. For most of my life issues such as greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, waste management, water pollution, global heating or biodiversity have mostly seemed to exceed the worst case scenario previously estimated. But as a software engineer I never felt like I could do much to work on these issues. What attracted me was that ESG is becoming a big data problem, so I can use software engineering to help make an impact. 


What excited you about Nossa Data?

It's really exciting that I can use my software engineering skills on a problem that has been at the back of my mind for a really long time. Basically, we started Nossa Data because we saw data management was where the biggest gap was in terms of companies being able to report effectively and being able to react to a changing regulatory landscape. The effects of climate change are constantly changing, so being able to react fast with dynamic solutions will become essential. I think if we help companies to better report then we can also increase the amount of data being reported on overall, and through this we will increase transparency. If everyone in the industry is reporting then it will become harder and harder for anyone else to say something that isn’t accurate, because there will be data from their suppliers or partners which can be verified, as well as competitors with better disclosure processes that will be more attractive to investors. 

The other thing that was really exciting from the beginning was that Nossa Data felt like an opportunity for large-scale impact. So, for instance, I'm vegetarian, I try to buy sustainably, I never buy new hardware if I can buy resealed. But, I'm only one person and it's really a drop in the ocean. However, with ESG I feel that we can work to influence the behaviours of large organisations that already have a larger ESG footprint.


What excites you about the ESG space?

What excites me is that ESG is much more comprehensive than just focusing on climate change or emissions, and focuses on solving a broad range of global issues. Because, as the Paris Agreement stated, climate change is also about social equity. We will not be able to achieve net zero emissions if we don’t treat this as an equity problem where some countries that are poorer will get affected worse by climate change. There will be a lot of social issues at stake, so I find that this is a much more comprehensive way to look at it.


What are some challenges that you see in the ESG space?

The ESG space still needs to advance technologically. People haven’t heard of it, people don’t know how to report on it, and everyone is drowning in data. That’s why we’re working on the educational aspect on our platform. We’re building a lot of guidelines and essentially our tool is meant to help companies understand how they should report, and once they’ve done that, help them report faster and with more confidence.

There is the lack of standardisation of ESG, which we think is going to change. We are primarily looking at EU companies to start with and the EU is the most advanced body in the world in terms of climate change and ESG regulation, so we are seeing that its becoming more standardised, hopefully leading the way towards increased transparency. 


How has your experience working at Google affected how you view the role of ESG in corporate reporting?

At Google, I didn’t really focus on anything to do with sustainability or with ESG. It was mostly something that I knew was growing. When I was at Google, I mostly wanted to gain experience in the industry from a technical point of view. First, I worked in site reliability engineering, where I helped run production services at scale. And then I worked in Android, which was interesting for me because I was working with the Android OS and I hadn’t worked before on mobile app development at all. I had to adapt with a steep learning curve, which was a good challenge. 

The job at Google really helped me learn a wide variety of skills that could then be applied in many different industries. For instance, one way in which it helped me a lot was that I've done some aspects of remote working before it was cool, my first team being split across two time zones. I learned a lot about inclusion and I learned a lot about my own internal biases and how to counter them. For instance, we had our book clubs and talks related to inclusion.


What are you looking forward to in the next six months to year with Nossa Data?

I'm looking forward to our product being live and being used by many people. I'm looking forward to learning how best to build my product from customer feedback, to scaling up our existing features as well as launching more forms of data analysis. My goal is to see results where people say “Thank you, with this tool I was able to do ESG reporting faster’, or ‘my ESG standards improved’, ‘my customers are happier because I changed some policies in my companies’, etc.


What inspires you to help solve the environmental and social problems we are facing globally?

What inspires me the most is reading the news and seeing the urgency that is being expressed by anyone who does research in climate, or any kind of observation about the state of the environment, as well as the social issues that come tied to it. I find the news really negative but it makes me think I’m trapped, what do we do about this? I’m glad that I’m able to do something to act on this. 

I recently read something by Greta Thunberg that I empathise with a lot: if your house is on fire right now, you would be immediately calling out for help and trying to put out the fire as soon as possible, and that is what is happening to our planet right now. That’s kind of how I feel when I read any research about climate change. 


Anything else you would like to add? 

If you are responsible for ESG at a company please get in touch at [email protected]. We would love to show you our product and help make ESG as easy as possible.