CEO Interview: Ann Hand of Project FROG

With a resume spanning executive positions at Exxon Mobil, BP, and now Project FROG, Ann Hand proves that going green is the future of the energy and building industry.

The former Chief Marketing Officer of British Petrol (BP), Ann Hand is the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of Project FROG, the California based manufacturer of smart building systems.

Leading FROG on its way to the top—they already exceeded their revenue target for this year—Ann lends her expertise as a world-class green energy executive while FROG continues to leap, so to speak, expand and change the way things are built forever. She took a few minutes out of her day to discuss how she got in to the clean energy sector, how entrepreneurism is in her DNA and her thoughts on global warming.

Alister & Paine: Tell me a little about Project FROG.

Ann Hand: Project FROG was created a few years ago and challenged the way that things get built. The original vision was an ever portable building that kids go to school with across the US, along with portables that get used whenever there’s disaster relief, like what occurred with Katrina.

The world was just saying there’s just got to be a better solution. We came at the building industry backwards and said that we could build something that would be better, greener, faster and cheaper all at the same time. The result is a unique set of pre engineered pre manufactured product that overrides at a construction site and gets finished in a matter of weeks versus months.

Alister & Paine: It’s refreshing to see a female executive in such a high position of power. What’s your candid take on women in the workplace?

Ann Hand: I worked my way up from the bottom. My father was an entrepreneur and I feel like it’s in my DNA. The only way I was going to be the best I was going to be and be distinctive and stand out would be to be true to who I am and the way I’ve been raised and how I’m wired. ‘Get your hands dirty and don’t chuck your own personality out the door when you go into work.’

Alister & Paine: What part of your background inspired you to enter the progressively growing green industry?

Ann Hand: When you start out in the traditional oil industry and then get an opportunity to focus on the bigger problem of the environment within a very powerful oil company you realize there’s significant purpose around it and it’s hard to go back to just the traditional business.

I was dancing around the space of energy efficiency. I actually took one of BP’s retail gas stations and decided to upcycle it. To take a dirty old gas station and challenge ourselves to create something that was in many ways exactly the same as the FROG Project.

This isn’t about us designing for 50 years out. This is about just real obvious smart choices you can make that reduce your cost on the site.

Alister & Paine: How has building environmental awareness changed since you’ve been in the field?

Ann Hand: A few years ago most people didn’t even realize that nearly 40% of the carbon emissions were from the building environment. Everyone focuses so much on transportation and cars they don’t even look at our buildings as the biggest contributors. Now there’s a real appetite for it, and there’s so much inefficiency in the build environment. You don’t have to give up anything to have a better building to occupy.

Alister & Paine: As someone so immersed in the green energy sector, what’s your personal solution for global warming?

Ann Hand: Do I have a personal solution? We’re all going to have to explore some big ideas. Some big ideas are going to be other sources of energy, which might be wind and solar on a much bigger scale, and many people have ideas about nuclear as well.

If I put on my marketing hat I would say that now it’s time for us to really grapple with this big problem. We’ll have to do some really bold things with the technology state and at the energy security state as well.

If you see technology being directed at transportation and new energy generation and all those other areas we’ll quickly see ourselves having a plethora of things that can help us chop away at this problem much faster than just say, changing out your light bulbs.

Alister & Paine: How do you think the present administration is affecting the “green” sector?

Ann Hand: I’m very excited about the direction the administrations going. It’s just the additional push we need to really enable the private sectors side—that extra wind in the sails is great.

Alister & Paine: Do you have any advice for executives in the job market, looking for the right company to lead?

Ann Hand: I had to be in a business that was really ready to commercialize. I have a lot of experience in sales, marketing and business development and I’ve tried some early stage start ups, which were 5 years away from going to market. Could I technically have done the job? Maybe. But would it really be the place where I could hit it out of the park? Probably not.  I think there’s something about taking your time.

If you can align with a company’s mission that is compelling to you, and at the same time the company is at a stage that links up with what you do best, that seems to be the golden moment.

That’s what I’ve found with FROG.