Getting to Know CIM’s Head of Engineering, Antonious Mickaeal

September 15, 2023

With a built environment that generates 40% of global carbon emissions, how can we leverage existing building data to maximise their operational efficiency and reduce their environmental impact? CIM’s Head of Engineering, Antonious Mickaeal (Tony), had been pondering this problem back in 2014 when he met CEO and Founder David Walsh, who was in the midst of tackling the same challenge by starting CIM.

Tony was struck by Dave’s vision for the industry and the opportunity to make a real difference on a global issue. Tony’s unmatched industry experience, including time spent behind the scenes as a systems application engineer at a top-tier BMS company, made him the perfect candidate to join CIM in its very early days.

Eight years on, Tony now draws upon 15 years of hands-on experience in the building operations space to inform the direction of CIM’s engineering team and the PEAK Platform.

Key Insights from our Q&A

  • Throughout Tony’s 15 years of industry experience, he has been driven by a desire to solve the efficiency problem facing the built environment, helping clients to simultaneously reduce their carbon footprint and improve asset metrics.
  • Data is only as good as your ability to access and understand it. During Tony’s earliest days in the industry, building data was largely unstructured and inaccessible, rendering it virtually useless. He and Dave set out to solve this problem with CIM’s PEAK Platform.
  • CIM is a dynamic and unique company within its field. The engineering team represents a diverse array of disciplines that contribute to thoughtful, industry-leading rules and algorithms that solve real-world problems for building owners and FMs.
  • As Head of Engineering, Tony is focused not only on fine-tuning the logic that informs CIM’s software solution but on expanding the team’s horizons to tackle other problems that keep building owners awake at night.
  • Every stakeholder in the CIM team, from the leadership team to Customer Success and our clients, is deeply committed to reducing the environmental impact of buildings and making a measurable difference in the world.

Tony’s professional journey

Q: Tell us about your career path so far

A: I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering from the University of Technology Sydney, where I majored in Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering. During my studies, I was fortunate enough to work as a student engineer and an assistant engineer, which provided a great deal of practical experience. After graduating, I earned a role with a top-tier BMS company, which sparked my passion for optimising the built environment. During my time there, I was exposed to a wide range of BMS projects across multiple property verticals, including universities, hospitals, performing arts centres, and defence buildings. I’ve since been at CIM for nearly 9 years, most of which as the Head of Engineering. All told, I have more than 15 years of experience in building operations and management.

Q: What drew you to working with David Walsh?

A: When I met Dave, he was just embarking on his journey to establish CIM. I was immediately drawn in by his vision and passion for the same issues that were on my mind: how to address the mammoth efficiency challenges facing the industry in a cost-effective way. We were completely aligned on our core objectives— identify energy waste within large commercial buildings to reduce the impact of buildings as major energy consumers—and we shared a similar view on how technology could render this goal achievable. That early commitment and partnership has never wavered.

Tony’s role as a CIM leader

Q: What role did you play in the early building of the PEAK Platform, and how has your role evolved?

Even in CIM’s earliest days, we understood that most buildings already collected a lot of valuable data. Instead of installing expensive infrastructure, we created a plan to leverage the data these buildings already had.

At the time, you’d need a full-time engineer sitting behind the BMS to identify issues and diagnose the root cause of potential mechanical or controls failure within the building. Dave and I set out to make it easier for new and existing buildings to be managed efficiently and sustainably, improving their environmental ratings. We knew this was a challenge a tech stack could solve; we just needed the right team of engineers to build it.

One of the primary challenges we identified was that building data wasn’t accessible or structured. Imagine a large filing cabinet with no folders or labelling system to direct you. When Dave started CIM, the state of BMS data looked a lot like that; the value was there, but existing storage and organisation methods made the data very difficult to use.

Q: How has the engineering team changed over time, and what role have they played in CIM’s development?

A: The engineering team all share a passion for solving technical problems and resolving industry-wide challenges. The team’s passion is shaped by their ability to make a difference in the world by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving operational efficiency.

CIM’s engineers come from several engineering disciplines, such as electrical, mechanical and mechatronics. This diversity of thought has played a critical role in CIM’s development, which draws upon a wide array of industry experience to leverage the best that modern engineering has to offer.

The team has played a pivotal role in developing the PEAK Platform through the creation of rules and algorithms that make existing buildings smarter by proactively identifying sources of waste and other opportunities to optimise. We are continually drawing upon the experiences from their different disciplines to fine-tune and optimise those rules. 

Our team also has a vast amount of experience in advising clients—so much so that we are often seen as a valuable extension of the client operations team. We work across a vast portfolio of buildings, which has given our team invaluable learnings they can apply when advising clients on industry best practices. Our user support is unrivalled in the industry; we offer in-depth onboarding, unlimited training, live support across multiple time zones, and unlimited access to a comprehensive training portal, the CIM Help Centre. All to ensure that our clients are never left with unanswered questions or uncertainty about what to do next. 

The role of CIM’s engineering team

Q: Does the team’s experience give CIM a competitive edge?

A: The experience our team brings to the table definitely gives us an edge in the market. We’re able to write better algorithms because we’re drawing upon years of direct experience in how different optimisation strategies work, not how they should work. We can quickly and accurately identify opportunities to reduce waste, scale back equipment operating hours, and flag issues before they escalate into problems. When you multiply that impact across hundreds of sites, the overall effect is enormous.

Q: How has the team managed to build a highly technical platform that is accessible to non-technical users?

A: This may sound counterintuitive, but our team’s highly technical expertise enabled us to create a platform that anyone can use. The diagnosis instructions within PEAK Actions are clear and relate directly to existing everyday work, so even non-technical users can easily understand and address the opportunities identified.

PEAK is shaped and moulded by a highly technical team of engineers who knew from the start that to make our tool as useful as possible, it would need to be leveraged by both technical and non-technical personnel. Anyone can go into PEAK and pick up a ticket or close out an action without having to wade through highly technical jargon.

Q: How do CIM’s advisory clients benefit from your engineering team’s experience?

A: Many of our clients have come to view CIM’s engineering team as an extension of their own team, and we share that view. Our clients’ goals are our goals. Our engineers recommend and advise on various aspects of operational strategy and efficiency improvements. We’re incredibly proud to work with a raft of top-tier clients such as Charter Hall, Lendlease, GPT, QIC, and Scentre Group. 

The diversity of experience in our engineering team has helped us to develop a truly unique product. Typically, what we see in the industry is that the technology is trying to solve an engineering problem, or that engineering is trying to solve a technology problem. Within CIM’s PEAK Platform, we’ve married the two, enabling our clients to deploy a focused solution across multiple assets. 

Q: What’s next for CIM?

A: From a technology and platform perspective, we never sit still. We’re continually developing new rules and algorithms to apply our industry-leading analytics to new datasets. We’re already making a significant impact addressing HVAC and emissions challenges; now we’re looking ahead to other areas where our analytics can make a real difference for building owners and FM teams. As we look to the future, our engineering team hopes to expand into new datasets, cultivate fresh talent and support the company's continued expansion into new global markets.

Tony on what makes CIM different

Q: How would you describe the culture at CIM?

A: Our culture is fun, dynamic, and fast-paced. We’re all passionate about solving real-world challenges, and there’s a genuine sense of camaraderie that develops when you’re all pulling toward the same goal. We’re also fortunate to work with clients who are just as passionate about creating change as we are.

Q: What keeps you excited and motivated by your work at CIM?

A: CIM started as a three-person company where we solved industry problems at our own kitchen tables. Today, we have team members, clients and buildings worldwide. Between our global presence and our ability to make a measurable impact by solving real-world problems, CIM is an incredible place for engineers like myself to hone their craft. We can draw upon our prior experience to forge new solutions, and that growth is the most exciting prospect any job can provide. I’m looking forward to solving new problems, continuing the expansion of our global team, and ingesting new datasets that will require additional expertise. 

Q: What’s your favourite thing about working at CIM?

A: No two days are alike. Every day you wake up, you’re trying to solve new challenges and develop unique solutions to those challenges. I have never felt myself getting into that mental rut that comes from getting too comfortable. Also, CIM is an incredibly dynamic company. We’re young enough to learn, but old enough—or rather, wise enough—to know better. That dynamism allows us to explore new areas where we can add value while providing a mature and valuable service to our clients. 

Q: Why is the work you do at CIM important?

A: CIM was forged from an engineering background but built based on the collective experiences of everyone in the company to develop a world-class solution. It may sound cliche, but our work really does make the world a better place for future generations. What could be more important than that?

Chris Joannides
September 15, 2023