Tom Dahri is the 22i CEO.
As a senior officer in London's Metropolitan Police Service, Tom led protection of the British Prime Minister, security at the 2012 London Olympics, as well as team leadership during two of the most high profile British events of recent years - the 2017 London Bridge terror attack and Grenfell Tower fire.
After 30 years in the Met, Tom founded 22i in 2019.
For the view from the top, we interviewed Tom in early December 2019.
Tell us about yourself, Tom.
I'm married with two teenage children.
I retired from the Metropolitan Police in 2019 after completing 30 years of service.
My last posting was as Senior Investigating Officer with the Met’s Homicide Command, investigating homicides and fatal Health and Safety investigations in London, sometimes overseas.
Investigating homicides provided their own challenges, but being a team leader of the Met’s Disaster Victim Identification team brought the challenges I faced to a different level.
In 2017 at the London Bridge terrorist attack, for example, I led one of the teams recovering the bodies of victims and suspects. A few weeks later, I led another team into the remains of Grenfell Tower to recover the victims of the tragic fire, spending the first five days inside the tower.
These tragic events resonate with me to this day and will stay with me for the rest of my life.
What was the path that took you to where you are today?
Policing was a far from a normal career - it was far more eclectic!
My early career was fairly normal until I joined Special Branch, where I saw and was involved in things that I never envisaged when I first joined the police in 1989.
Some of the greatest responsibilities were leading an intelligence team during the July 2005 London bombings, protecting the Prime Minister by heading up firearms protection teams at Downing Street, and leading the International Liaison Unit [ILU] at the 2012 London Olympics.
The ILU was a bespoke multi-agency unit formed from the police, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Home Office and Ministry of Defence. We liaised with the law enforcement agencies of the 204 nations at the London Olympics, as well as 50 of the world’s top commercial sponsors.
Looking back, I think this all taught me how to lead people, how to stay calm and focused, to stay on-task and deliver.
It really is amazing what you can achieve with good people around you.
What made you found 22i?
I was always interested in cyber, either in security or software development. Whilst developing a cyber security business, I saw an opportunity in the market and I am currently in the process of taking full advantage of it!
What vision do you have for the company?
We passionately believe that AI must work for people and the planet. We want to be innovative and disruptive with our ideas, to be smart with maximum impact.
So, in 2019 we've really focused on developing a strong product and service. On the partnership side, we have a great collaboration with Schneider Electric - they've really helped refine our go-to-market strategy.
2020 will be really exciting. We're about to sign a major partnership, plus deals with Big Six UK energy companies. This will not only generate nice revenue but also help drive our 2020 funding strategy - we've been self-funded until now but plan to get out there and secure funding to move us up to the next level.
I'm aiming high - I want us to be a $100 million company in 5 years. Ultimately, it's all about the triple bottom line - people, planet, profit.
That's the vision.
What do you feel is the biggest strength of 22i?
Smart people and smart solutions.
Firstly, the company has strong and experienced people from a range of industries who all bring something to the table - tech, engineering, security, professional services, consultancy.
Secondly, our AI is truly disruptive. Our first target market, for example, is smart meters. The British smart meter rollout is years behind target, with companies playing catch up and incurring a massive $700 million in extra costs, not to mention an unnecessary extra 40,000 tonnes of CO2.
Our solution can strip out these costs and massively improve efficiencies and health and safety.
We're even planning to lead the creation of a global standard for the safe, efficient installation of smart meters across the world. It's easy to forget that smart meters are a critical path in creating a sustainable economy.
That's why we'll be working with policymakers in 2020, starting with the UK's All-Party Parliamentary Group for Energy Studies. We'll then look to roll this out to the EU and US, plus emerging markets in Africa and Asia.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The biggest challenge has been the realisation that I’m no longer a cop! After 30 years in one institution it is quite challenging.
The other big challenge is one of self belief, that I have transferable skills that are needed in the private sector.
Unlike the military, there's very limited support for people leaving the police and looking to lead in the private sector. There's some support through the police unions or some former police officers and staff offering CV writing skills, but that's about it.
As an institution, policing should provide greater support - we bring unique experience and skills to business and life.
What are your outside interests?
Besides loving to spend time with my family, I love my rugby with a passion!
I’ve finally decided to hang up my rugby boots as my body was taking too long to recover from the games. Also, I was way too out of shape to play the game and tackles hurt a lot! I’m now happy to just watch the matches from the stands.
Who or what has most shaped who you are?
My beautiful wife, Lynn, has made me who I am today. We met when I was young in the police, where I was just drifting along with the flow of life and career. She provided me with focus and believed in me, reminding me that there's nothing I can’t do and making me recognise that the only barriers to success are the barriers I create myself.
She's been my greatest support in life and continues to support me into my new career.
Finally, what was the best advice you ever received?
Three people (my wife and two 22i colleagues) gave me the same advice - 'believe in yourself, you have so much to offer to people and business outside the public sector!'.
Now I feel like I'm on a mission. I don't want to just talk about a sustainable economy - I want to help create it too.
22i provides the perfect opportunity to deliver.
Tom can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org