An Interview With Margery Moore | CEO & Founder of ehsAI
Meet Margery Moore. She’s the CEO and founder of ehsAI, an Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning startup based in Vancouver, BC.
An innovator, entrepreneur, and leader in her field, Margery has created breakthrough technologies to solve significant challenges in the EHS (Environment, Health, and Safety) industry. She has a BSc. and Masters in Environmental Data Management, and in her spare time oversees the Salt Spring Institute for Sustainability Education & Action, an environmental charity.
We had the pleasure of sitting down virtually with Margery to chat about her career path, what it’s like to be a woman in tech, and how sustainability informs her values and fashion choices.
You're an inspiration to us as a female entrepreneur and respected leader in the tech industry. Can you tell us a bit about your journey and how you ended up in this field?
When I was nineteen, I decided to take a gap year to go traveling. Seeing how people lived in other parts of the world was alarming to me at that age. It helped me realize how lucky I was to live in Canada, and inspired me to contribute to the fabric of Canada through the lens of environment and sustainability.
I decided to pursue environmental studies in university, and eventually completed my Masters in Environmental Management. What I realized during that time was that if we’re to have a truly sustainable future, we need to go beyond pen and paper. Environmental management mostly lived in binders up until that point. Even after a global standard for environmental management was finally introduced in the early 90s, it was still tied to pen and paper. I understood that what we needed was to understand dynamically what the data is and find a new way to manage it.
Eventually I created my own startup, and through that process I developed software and learned so much. In 2017, I made the decision to leave my corporate job and pursue the startup full time.
Tell us more about your interest in sustainability and what your product does.
For a company to be sustainable, first they must be in compliance with environmental health and safety regulations. If a company isn’t in compliance, they can’t be sustainable.
Most companies aren’t in compliance because it’s an arduous, expensive, and time-consuming step. These organizations shouldn’t have to read through an entire permit or a regulation. They should be able to simply run it through our software and get a clear output of what needs to be done.
Instead of spending 40 hours reading a regulation line by line, companies should spend 39 hours thinking about how to comply. Part of the sustainability equation is providing the market with a tool that frees up the time they need to work on sustainability, allowing them to do more. That’s what our product helps them accomplish.
Women often face challenges or barriers to succeeding in the tech industry. How can we empower women to find rewarding careers, especially in male-dominated fields? Do you have any advice for women who are starting down a similar career path?
For a female entrepreneur to succeed in a male-dominated industry, they need to have a really strong idea, and they need to be able to prove it. Only 3% of funding goes to women, and attracting that funding is difficult. Women entrepreneurs should have a very clearly articulated problem and business solution. If the business aspects of entrepreneurship are a challenge, they can hire people to support them with that.
My advice to women starting down a similar career path is to find a network of people they can talk to. That could be friends, but it's also important to have a core group of good advisors. My professional network and business advisors were indispensable to me.
Are there any women who have been a significant inspiration to you along the way?
In my personal network, it would be Linda Solomon, who founded Canada’s National Observer. She's been a mentor and a good friend for over ten years now. I was 47 when I started my company, and she started the National Observer at age 50.
When you’re 50 years old and starting a company, people often assume that you’re too old. But she’s been incredibly successful, and the National Observer has changed the game in Canada around politics. My charity works with them quite closely and I’ve seen the impact they’ve had on environmental policy in Canada.
What do you love about your work, and are there any accomplishments you're most proud of in your career?
What I’m most proud of is that 40 people want to work for me. I think that’s incredible, and it’s still hard for me to believe. Secondly, I’m proud of the fact that we got a patent for our product. Very few women get a patent in Canada each year. To me, that underlines the importance of what we’ve created and proves that we’re on the right path.
Now our startup is in scaling mode, which brings its own problems and challenges. But they’re all new and exciting, and everyone is eager to succeed. They all think it’s an incredible product and want to figure out how we can get it adopted by thousands of people. And people seem to be behind the vision, so that’s an inspiration to me every day.
You created a charity in BC called the Salt Spring Institute for Sustainability Education and Action (I-SEA). What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability to me is first and foremost protecting the natural environment, which in turn protects all of us and allows us to continue living and working in this experiment we call capitalism.
Some professionals gravitate toward having a capsule wardrobe of essential pieces that can be mixed and matched with ease. Capsule wardrobes are also often considered a more sustainable option since they encourage less consumption. What are your thoughts on capsule wardrobes?
Yes, I’ve always had signature pieces. My closet usually looks like five skirts, five suits, five blouses, etc. That was my go-to wardrobe, so I could easily pack it in my suitcase and head out. Everything I have either doesn’t need to be ironed or can just be steamed in the shower, which makes traveling much easier. Sometimes I only have five minutes to get ready and I don’t have time to think about what I’m going to wear, so everything needs to look good together.
What do you look for in a clothing brand?
My hope is that the clothes are sustainable, but it can be difficult to find beautiful clothes that are also eco-friendly. I don’t necessarily want to wear loose-knit bamboo; I want garments that make me look and feel great. As a taller woman with a unique body type, if I find something I love, I buy it. But of course, I much prefer if it’s sustainable. My wish is to see even more clothing companies with eco-friendly products. And now that I’m older and an entrepreneur, I also look for clothing lines created and run by women.
We’re honoured to have you as a customer of Narvan. Can you tell us what your pieces from Narvan mean to you?
My wardrobe needs to be versatile and easily packed into a suitcase. I don’t have spare time to think about what I’m going to wear; everything needs to mix and match effortlessly. Narvan’s line does that perfectly. My blouse can be paired with five skirts, and my skirt can be worn with five blouses. I have the Rojeen Skirt and the Estere Blouse, which are anchor pieces that are important to me. They fit perfectly, and I can pair them with my other garments, through all the different seasons.Narvan's pieces also make me feel good, and I can share them with my stepdaughter. She’s 22 and loves the clothing line; the pieces make her feel very feminine.