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Mahua is a graduate of Yale University and has had a distinguished career in carbon finance and corporate social responsibility. She led the development of a carbon protocol while in the World Business Council for Sustainable Development in Geneva, was a successful deal manager in the pioneering carbon finance business of the World Bank in Washington, and headed up Mittal Steel’s carbon portfolio management business in London before returning to India to join Emergent Ventures as a senior manager responsible for corporate financing.
What did you study?
I think the point at which I took the right step was when I was at graduate school. I knew that I wanted to work on Business and on the Environment, and I wanted to combine them. I believe in the power of incentives to guide human behavior. If one can build an environmental framework with the right incentives, that framework will spur positive practices. I got a degree in Environmental Studies and Management, and have stayed with Renewable Energy and Climate Change ever since.
What do you do?
Mahua now runs a $27 Million Fund, CQC Green Ventures, that finances energy efficiency projects all over India through carbon credits. Mahua manages a staff of almost 20 members in CQC Green Ventures and in turn the supervision of contractors with hundreds of staff engaged daily in distributing compact fluorescent light bulbs to replace inefficient incandescent light bulbs in poorer households across India.
How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and unusual career?
I have always been an environmentalist at heart. I grew up surrounded by nature. I love the outdoors. But later on, in my undergraduate years, I realized the approach traditional environmentalists were taking wasn’t fitting with my philosophy.
I also always wanted to do international work. So, I made a choice to try living in different countries not just for the sake of living in different countries but also to further my career journey.
What skills are needed for the job?
I have been described as stubborn by various people. I don’t give up easily. I think along the way I digested the fact that if I am going to be working on something as long-term as Climate Change, perseverance will be key, because we won’t see results easily.
I developed both resilience and patience because of my professional environment. For instance, back when Carbon Credits and Emissions Trading were being designed, I knew that could not happen overnight. It needs the involvement of several countries. It has a lot of political consequences. There is potential for several downfalls along the way, but provided you keep your eye on the ball, somehow or the other you can make it through.