Emily Charry Tissier: Protecting Oceans to Protect the Future

Whale Seeker

Emily Charry Tissier is a biologist with over 20 years of experience working in coastal and arctic ecosystems. She has a deep appreciation for the natural world and a strong commitment to sustainability. Throughout her career, she’s had the opportunity to work with a wide range of professionals from different disciplines, and she is passionate about collaborating with multidisciplinary teams to achieve common goals.

As the co-founder and CEO of Whale Seeker, she brings her expertise to the development of innovative AI solutions for healthy oceans and marine life. She exclaims that it’s been an incredible journey, and beams with pride as she shares that Whale Seeker was recently recognized as a top 10 AI project for sustainable development by UNESCO’s International Research Center on Artificial Intelligence.

The Plunge in the Ocean Of Opportunities:

As a female entrepreneur, she was inspired to bring into her own business by combining the 3 Ps – personal drive, passion for the field, and the desire to make a positive impact. The one specific challenge she encountered in her entrepreneurial journey is the underrepresentation of women in the field of AI (Artificial Intelligence). She laments that it is a reality that the tech industry, including AI, has traditionally been male-dominated. This lack of diversity poses obstacles such as limited access to networks, resources, and mentorship opportunities.

However, she firmly believes that diversity is crucial for innovation and success. By sharing her experiences and accomplishments, she strives to inspire and encourage more women to pursue careers in AI and entrepreneurship.

The Origins of the Whale Seeker:

 In 2017, she and the co-founder of the Whale Seeker Bertrand embarked on a research mandate for narwhals. It was a painstaking process for them as it involved manually analyzing over 6,000 aerial images. As they went through this process, it dawned on them that there was a major gap in the technology available to facilitate mammal detection tasks.

That’s when it quickly became apparent to them that this technology would be incredibly useful for numerous industries such as ships looking to avoid whale-strike-related penalties, oil companies facing whale-related delays during seismic studies, and governments seeking to manage their marine populations more effectively.

In 2018, the duo were joined by Antoine Gagné as CTO, and together they founded Whale Seeker with a mission to solve the problem of slow, manual, and expensive marine mammal detection. The goal of The Whale Seeker is to provide accessible whale detection for industries and governments seeking to minimize their impact on marine ecosystems.

Empathy, resilience, curiosity, and collaboration have been key in my journey so far. By understanding others’ needs, adapting to challenges, embracing continuous learning, and fostering collaborative relationships, I have been able to build strong connections, overcome obstacles, and drive innovation in my entrepreneurial journey. As an entrepreneur, I define success as achieving a balance between my business goals, personal fulfilment, and the well-being of my family and team. It’s important for me to not only drive the growth and positive impact of my business but also to be present for my loved ones and nurture those relationships. While I may not claim to succeed at it every single day, it is undoubtedly the constant aspiration that drives me forward.

– Emily Charry Tissier

The Whale of Time and the Ocean Of Experience:

Emily believes that networking and mentorship serve as invaluable pillars for business growth. They facilitate meaningful connections, provide access to knowledge and resources, and offer guidance from experienced individuals who can help navigate challenges and foster continuous learning.

To promote innovation and adaptability in the field, the organization fosters a culture of creativity and curiosity among their team members. Methods like idea exploration, feedback-seeking, and continuous improvement are encouraged. They also stay informed about market trends, technologies, and customer needs which allows them to anticipate changes and outperform competitors.  The organization’s investment in ongoing learning and development enhances its team’s skills and knowledge. They also actively seek partnerships and collaborations to leverage expertise and explore growth opportunities. With an agile and flexible approach, they embrace change as an opportunity to meet market demands, ensuring their competitive advantage.

Their technology is designed to minimize the impact of human activities on marine ecosystems, and they ensure that their business practices are sustainable and environmentally responsible.

As a Certified B Corp company, the centre of its value is on using technology responsibly and sustainably. They care deeply about the ethics surrounding the development of their AI, as well as the use of their solutions.  Their ultimate goal is to make a positive impact on the environment and society, while also delivering value to their clients.

Educating clients about AI and its benefits has been a significant challenge for us. Some fear being replaced by AI, but we aim to empower clients with accurate information for better decision-making in protecting marine ecosystems. Ethical AI use is paramount as we grow. To overcome this, we employ a comprehensive education strategy. We engage actively, explaining how AI enhances their work, not replacing their expertise. By showcasing positive outcomes and benefits, we’ve gained trust and shifted perceptions.

-Emily Charry Tissier

Overcoming the Tide of Biasness:

According to Emily in the tech industry, including AI, there is still a gender imbalance despite progress.  But Whale Seeker, they are committed to addressing this challenge. They have embraced   10 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), out of the 17 SDGs including SDG #5: Gender Equality. Within their company, they are prioritizing creating a safe and inclusive working environment for all genders. Whale Seeker actively promotes gender equality through their recruitment efforts, ensuring that women have equal opportunities in STEM careers.

Also at Whale Seeker, they approach risk-taking by carefully evaluating the potential rewards and consequences of each decision. Emily is a staunch believer that calculated risks are essential for growth and innovation. One of the most significant risks they’ve taken so far was investing heavily in research and development to develop their AI-powered marine mammal detection technology. It required substantial financial resources and time, but it has paid them off by positioning them as a leader in the industry and providing their clients with valuable solutions.

I prioritize by setting boundaries, delegating tasks, and practising self-care whenever possible. I try to embrace flexibility and regularly reflect on my balance, making necessary adjustments. It’s important to acknowledge that achieving work-life balance is a continuous process, and while I may not be perfect, I remain committed to finding harmony between my work and personal life.

-Emily Charry Tissier

The Vision and the Way Ahead:

Over the next 5 years, Emily’s vision for Whale Seeker is to establish it as a renowned and influential name in the realm of marine conservation and monitoring. She aspires to be recognized as a company that is truly driving positive change in safeguarding its oceans and the diverse creatures that rely on them. Simultaneously, they are committed to equipping their clients with top-notch tools for data-driven decision-making, ensuring they have the means to make a significant impact. On a personal level, she will continue trying to strike a balance between her professional and personal life, enabling her to consistently bring her utmost dedication and best self to the table.

I would talk to them about the importance of striking a balance between staying focused and committed to your mission, while also prioritizing our well-being and that of your team members. It’s important to remain focused on your mission, but not at the expense of your well-being or that of our team members.

Embrace failure as a learning opportunity, surround yourself with a supportive network, stay adaptable and open to change, foster a culture of innovation, cultivate persistence and resilience, and never stop learning. Each entrepreneurial journey is unique, so don’t be too hard on yourself!

-Emily Charry Tissier