Alumni Spotlight: Varun Singh

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 Dr. Varun Singh

Update: Dr. Singh joined Facebook as a Project Manager in December 2014.  Like!

Varun Singh, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President, Sefaira

For the past four years – shortly after earning his Ph.D., CEEE alumni Varun Singh has worked at New York and London based startup, Sefaira.  Sefaira builds software that enables architects to design high performance buildings by allowing them to analyze their designs throughout the design process. In order to do this, Sefaira provides the very best tools to enable real-time performance-based design decisions as an immersive and seamless part of the design process.

Now the Senior Vice President of Engineering and Development, Dr. Singh started at Sefaira as the Lead Building Engineer. At the time he was responsible primarily for researching, developing and implementing algorithms for energy and daylighting analysis of buildings. He explains, “In addition, I was closely involved with other functions like defining product requirements, putting together our sales pitch, and recruiting future team members.”  Today he manages Sefaira’s core products (Sefaira Web Application, Sefaira for SketchUp, Sefaira for Revit). “My goal is to facilitate growth of our business by defining our product vision, understand our customers’ problems, define possible solutions to those problems, and enable our software development team to build and validate the solution,” he explains.  

Furthermore, he helps the company’s sales team price, position and sell the product, and drive product adoption through customer success and product marketing efforts. Nearly 250 architecture and engineering firms worldwide use Sefaira’s software. This includes five of the top 10 architecture firms in the world, as well as major engineering firms. One of their customers, Ara Massey, the sustainable design manager at Slaterpaull Architects, recently wrote an article about the value of the firm’s latest product.

The company has grown a great deal during the past four years, starting when they were a team of five people, and today now inching towards 50 employees. “With startups, the nature of the job evolves very rapidly as teams grow. When we were less than five people, everyone had to do everything in addition to what they were supposed to do. As we got closer to 15 people, roles became more defined, and my role evolved from coding to managing our engineering team which provided domain expertise to the sales and product teams, as well as drove product adoption,” he says.

“The most meaningful thing I learnt at CEEE was that you add value to customers by solving difficult problems. As a graduate student, I came in trying to find the shortest path towards a doctoral degree but left with a life lesson on the importance of solving difficult problems.”  He encourages young engineers who would like to work at startup like Sefaira, to think about solving problems that are greater than themselves, and to be very gritty and focused on learning. “The problems we solve at Sefaira can only be resolved when a diverse group of experts from business, software development, building science and user experience come together and work tirelessly as a team.”  According to Dr. Singh, prospective team members, in addition to strong skills required for the job, must be a food fit with ‘key intangibles’. “New team members to be tenacious and determined, self-aware and eager to learn, and have a strong sense of purpose and alignment with the company’s mission, he says, “We are always hiring.”

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