My first 100 days as CTO

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I have 52 questions – that’s what I told Tomas after my first day with the company. We agreed to sit down and go through them, but one meeting morphed into two, and eventually, we were meeting every day for 30 minutes to sync up.

These meetings became a game-changer in how we operate and provide a level of alignment between us that helps the company move quickly. It also showcases Tomas’ transparent, humble, and friendly nature, which is embedded throughout the culture.

I came to EnPowered from the insurance industry. As insurance is incredibly complicated, I never thought I’d be working in a more complex field. I was wrong. The complexity of the energy sector blew me away. The fact that you cannot effectively store energy leads to well-intentioned decisions on how to compensate – but to anyone but experts, these workarounds are bizarre and confusing.

Fundamentally, most people don’t think about the fact that electricity needs to be used as quickly as it is generated.

Entering a new industry is daunting enough, but as an executive hire you are also entering a new (for you), established team. I’m really grateful for the incredible support from my team and the management team.

Expanding on that point, I’ve worked with and mentored many companies, so I don’t say this lightly: one of the most special things about EnPowered is the culture. While so many other firms are struggling with employee engagement during the WFH shift, we have a weekly, optional hangout where we play games that two-thirds of the company shows up to. It’s incredible.

As a new leader, especially one with such great culture, you need to resist the urge to make too many changes; don’t assume that what people are already doing is wrong. Part of this is just common sense, but it’s also part of my leadership style, which tries to bring more vulnerability to leadership roles. What I mean by this is that I want to help my team shine: if they’re winning, then so am I.

So instead of having to fight resistance to change, I actually had to advocate for sustainable growth. I’ve probably said “we need to be 1% better than yesterday” hundreds of times since I joined EnPowered. Even with this focus on sustainability, we’ve still accomplished plenty over the last 100 days.

On a personal level, I took over half the people that Tomas was overseeing, while company-wide, the biggest achievement was launching our updated online portal, our main customer-facing application.

We didn’t reach all our goals in my first 100 days, but we also hit some that I never anticipated. I hadn’t expected how thirsty everyone at the company was for development; they knew they could do better and needed someone to help them get there.

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Mike Kirkup


Mike is responsible for the entire product organization including design, development, data science, and product management. Mike is a huge supporter of the Waterloo region and startups which is seen through his prior position as the director of Velocity, the University of Waterloo’s world-renowned startup program. He has also participated in a number of boards including the Waterloo Region Economic Development Corporation, Golden Triangle Angel Network, and Intrideo. Mike received a Bachelor of Mathematics and Masters of Management Science from the University of Waterloo.