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Meet the Funga Team: Erika Randolph

Updated: Jan 2

Get to know the Funga crew with this first installment of our "Meet the Team" series. Come back monthly to meet more team members, hear about their journey to Funga, and understand their vital role in our community.

We’re big fans of the “Today I get to….” mentality. So, what do you get to do every day at Funga?

I joined Funga as Head of Business Strategy and Operations in September 2022, and recently became Chief Operating Officer. We have an incredible team with deep experience in ecology, biotechnology, forestry, and beyond. I see my primary role as helping this team execute effectively every day by setting clear organizational goals and strategy, developing structures that help us scale thoughtfully, and delivering to the highest quality on our commitments with forest landowners and carbon buyers.

If you had to explain what Funga does to a third grader, what would you say?

Just like our lungs clean and filter the air we breathe, trees clean and filter the earth’s air. Funga helps trees grow faster and be healthier, so they can continue to play their incredibly important role in maintaining the health of our planet and the people on it.

Erika is based in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Tell us a little bit about your life. How did it lead you to Funga?

As a kid growing up on five continents, I was fortunate to experience an incredible diversity of culture, landscapes, and ways of stewarding our environment. I developed an interest in how global companies impact the environment and communities around them that led me to pursue higher education in international development, economics, and sustainable business. My career has taken me from mountain mining towns in Peru and Chile, to international policy work in Washington, DC, to consumer product development in Vermont. At the heart of it all is developing strategy and executing programs that enable companies to embed sustainability in their business operations for the better of their teams, communities, and the planet.

I came across Funga in August 2022 after leaving my previous role at geospatial data startup Descartes Labs to focus exclusively on climate work. The role has been the perfect combination of partnering with a talented founder to execute ambitious climate solutions, thoughtfully scaling a mission-driven organization, and providing meaningful nature-based solutions to companies that are committed to innovation and positive engagement with nature.

Balance is important (it’s one of Funga’s core values!), and on evenings and weekends I unplug from the world of climate tech to enjoy the outdoors and my family in beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico.

What is your favorite part of the job?

The Funga team, hands-down. Regardless of their level of experience, everyone at a startup has to do something new every day. I love being surrounded by such a supportive, intelligent, funny team whose commitment to biodiversity and nature shines through in every decision we make. They make it easy to do hard things.

The Funga team in the Santa Fe National Forest at a recent offsite.

What is one workflow/productivity tool or trick that you can’t live without?

This is a tough one… Spotify and a deliberate email and Slack-free hour each workday morning to plan the day. Don’t mess with my morning power hour!

What trivia round would you know every answer to?

The Funga team is exceptionally competitive, so this has been put to the test many times. My top three would be: US National Parks, Choosing the Right Flour for your Baking Endeavors (or: Baking at 7,000 Feet!), and Competitive Swimming Rules and Regulations. 🏜️ 👩🏻‍🍳 🏊🏼‍♀️

Enjoying fiction, geology, and sunsets at Grand Canyon National Park.

Can you share a favorite memory of/with the Funga team?

All of the Funga team has spent or will spend time in the field to connect with our core business of implementing soil microbiome restoration as a regenerative forestry practice. As you can see in the photo above, we all have Funga work vests. At a recent offsite we introduced a new annual team event: team members were awarded work vest “merit badges” for key contributions to the team: serving on a planting crew, inoculating seedlings, leading a lunch and learn event, or achieving a milestone anniversary. The event was filled with fun stories, genuine appreciation for the diverse and balanced team we have built, and reminders of the importance of our work in the context of climate impact. I’m excited to see how this celebration evolves each year with our growing team.

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