This week, we chat with Ronald T. Eguchi, CEO and Co-Founder of ImageCat.
1. What is the most interesting idea you’ve encountered in your world lately?
Ubiquitous access to smart information and data immediately following large natural disasters. Although our profession has made tremendous strides in gathering and sharing information with the public, this information is often not actionable, nor does it coincide with the timeframes when effective decision-making can be made. The notion of data platforms that connect to other platforms that provide a more robust view of hazards and risks in near real-time is what we have been advocating for, for a long time.
2. Where do you think no one is looking right now?
How we effectively transform our virtual conferences or meetings today into the conferences of the future. The notion of hybrid conferences is beginning to pick up traction as we begin to emerge from the pandemic. I believe there is an opportunity to leverage the technologies we now use to “gather” to bring more people into the fold, if we can somehow expand the virtual “cocktail hour.”
3. If you had a magic wand, what would you change about your industry?
Rewarding companies, not only by the revenue earned at the end of the year, but also by the number of lives saved in natural disasters.
4. What’s the most rewarding part of what you do?
Getting to work alongside young, bright individuals who are at the beginning of their careers and who always have interesting and often off-the-wall ideas on how to “redo” conventional wisdom.
5. What do you envision the next 12 months will bring?
An unbelievable resurgence of the personal interactions we left behind a year and half ago (especially international ones). These will morph into even richer relationships that will include new journeys into things that we often talked about but never had a chance to pursue before the pandemic.
6. What’s your favorite building?
Not so much favorite building, but favorite garden. In Kyoto, there is a shrine called the Heian Shrine, which has this garden that starts with a small, narrow parcel that opens up to a larger part of the garden that has a stepping stone path across the water, which then transitions to the main part of garden that unveils a lake. This progression from small area to large area gives the impression of a huge natural reserve when in fact, the garden is about 4 acres (less than 2 city blocks in Los Angeles). Just simply amazing … but that’s Japan.
7. Please dispel a myth or misconception about your work.
Perhaps the most gratifying myth about ImageCat is how big people think the company is. Most people believe because of the footprint we have in our industry (Risk Management), that we are a hundred scientists and engineers, when, in fact, we are much smaller than that. We are prolific in everything we do including R&D, marketing, outreach, publishing, and, most importantly, in nurturing the careers of our team members.
8. What are the tools, apps, or gadgets that you just can’t live without?
Anything that connects me to the internet. I use it all the time for things, from dealing with background checks to finding the closest (and best) Mexican restaurant.
9. What’s your biggest pleasant surprise related to remote work?
How efficient our team is despite not being to interact face-to-face in meetings where we can debate and often argue unmediated across the table.
10. What’s your favorite productivity tip for staying motivated and getting work done?
Counting the number of countries we have worked in helps to validate our geographic footprint and the impact we have in growing a more resilient world. This helps me stay motivated and productive.
11. What or who do you read/watch to keep informed?
I love talking with people and getting their views on what’s happening in today’s world. And I get the most interesting perspectives from people I don’t work with and who have nothing to do with my profession. I always get an interesting perspective when I meet someone new.
For example, just this week I spoke to someone who had just arrived from Hawaii and who spoke about virtual reality replacing in-person meetings. While it may be possible to have most of what we expect from in-person meetings (reading body language and even virtual handshakes), we both agreed that these virtual meetings can’t replace the informality of going down to the bar after a meeting to celebrate the “deal” with a couple of martinis! Cheers!
12. Please nominate two people who should answer this next. Why?
Reggie DesRoches, Provost at Rice University, for his commitment to higher education and diversity.
Laurie Johnson, Consultant at CEA (California Earthquake Authority), for her urban planning and disaster recovery knowledge.
Thank you to Scott Lawson, Chief Risk Engineering and Resilience Officer at Archipelago, for inviting Ronald to answer our 12 Questions.