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Cecil Stories

Behind the scenes at our Q1 Retreat

May 18, 2022
Eezu Tan

When people ask me about my recent experience on Cecil’s Q1 retreat, I share the spicy turnip story. I tell them about the time Stuart Austin (General Manager at Wilmot Cattle Co) pulled a turnip from the earth, and crunched into it. But before I get into that...

Hi, I’m Eezu - a Product Manager at Cecil! My day-to-day involves managing engineering tickets, researching ways to enable product-led growth and running the learning club for our team.

Me, eating a turnip that was pulled from the ground moments before this picture was taken. The turnip was so spicy it made my eyes water!

Last month, Cecil hosted its first retreat as a founding team. It was a special milestone to celebrate, whilst taking time to:

  • Connect with the teams that we serve, with nature and with each other
  • Align on our vision and purpose as a founding team
  • Contribute to our company strategy
  • Share a spicy turnip (this one was unplanned)

A global restoration movement

We had the privilege of staying at the Wilmot Cattle Company’s Ebor farm - a slice of paradise tucked an hour away from Armidale in northern NSW. Over the last decade the property has been managed using the principles of regenerative agriculture. Being on the property today, native flora and fauna is abundant and pasture biomass and ground cover flourish.

The Cecil team with Stuart Austin (General Manager of Wilmot Cattle Co)

Donning a cowboy hat and gumboots, Stuart Austin shared with us his passion for regenerating the land. He took us on a tour of the property, crossing rivers, traversing paddocks full of cows and encountering lots and lots of mud (by that I mean - our car got bogged and I left with a muddy sock!).

One bogged Landrover and me stuck in the mud (no need for games)

Before tucking into some home-cooked dinner, we headed down to the creek with Bart Davidson (’Chief Grazing Officer’ at Maia Grazing and avid fly fisher). As night fell and the cicada’s chirping grew, Shakespeare sonnets were uttered by our Science Advisor, Michael Molitor, in hopes of spotting a platypus (”Wherefore art thou platypus?”). Meanwhile, our Product Manager, Jo Tay, caught her first ever fish (!) which was gently released back into the creek.

Our Product Manager Jo Tay with her first catch! She released the Rainbow Trout back into the creek.

Championing customer centricity

As a team of software builders, our strengths lie in transforming an idea expressed in a customer call to a new feature on Cecil in a matter of weeks or even, hours. This means stepping into the shoes of our customers to truly understand their needs.

Staying at Wilmot placed us at the heart of our mission and allowed us to observe a world class and awe-inspiring team working to restore nature. In 2021, their transaction with Microsoft was the first global carbon credit deal made by an Australian grazier. The deal was worth over half a million dollars and proof that a new dawn of private investment into nature had arrived.

A field of cows at the farm

We saw first hand how restoring Wilmot’s ecological landscape was growing the landscape’s natural capital and how much additional value was created beyond carbon sequestration. Seeing this inspires us to keep solving for the teams working to restore nature and build the tools they need to access emerging biodiversity and natural capital markets.

As a Product Manager, these experiences, alongside our customer interviews and office days, ground my understanding in who we build our software for. Whether it’s a button to import data, or inventing a better way to manage carbon credits - we have thoughtfully embedded customer centricity into every step of our product build process.

Supporting symbiosis

Collaboration lies at the core of how we work at Cecil. On this retreat, I enjoyed being part of important conversations that form the building blocks of Cecil. These involved discussing our “why”, our values, Cecil’s product vision, and future market hypotheses. It didn’t matter how senior or junior you were, whether you’re an engineer or a designer - your voice matters.

My favourite session was on culture, where the team shared what they enjoyed most about working at Cecil. Some highlights:

  • License to be ambitious and bold in what we do
  • Learning & growth
  • Customer obsessed and investing everything back into the product
  • Room to experiment and create
  • Trust to deliver

It was a huge privilege to spend three days in nature, hearing from a team on the frontline of this emerging regeneration movement. Stuart’s love for the land - its lush vegetation, gushing waterfall and crisp air - is something I will never forget.

From turnips to product strategy, being able to share so openly and honestly with the team made me really proud to work at Cecil. After witnessing the beauty of this thriving landscape, we returned home with renewed conviction that restoring the world’s natural ecosystems is the most cost-effective and scalable way to fight the climate and nature crises.

Our co-founder Alex Logan driving a tractor alongside Head of Design, Sean Batchelor
Global team session on strategy
Team discussions on all things strategy, values, product vision, market hypotheses and more...

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We are hiring across a range of roles and would love to hear from you. Apply here.

Our co-founder Alex Logan with Senior Science Advisor Michael Molitor deep in conversation and apparently sharing a fashion stylist
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