Neha, tell us a little bit about yourself and your role with CLASP. How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and unique career?
Growing up in India in the 90’s, it was hard not to notice the rapid urbanization the country was going through. As a kid, I had often wondered what kind of pressure this is putting on our natural resources and that curiosity culminated in a master’s degree in Environment & Natural Resource Management from TERI School of Advanced Studies, Delhi. The time I spent at University made me more aware about the environmental challenges and climate crisis that we face and shaped the person that I am today. After graduating, I worked as a carbon and greenhouse gas emissions mitigation consultant. Subsequently in 2013, I joined CLASP and it’s been a fantastic ride ever since.
As a Program Manager, I provide technical and programmatic support to projects on appliance energy efficiency in India, and globally. My time is split across various projects including managing surveys in India, uncovering residential end-use, usage patterns, and behaviors for appliances, managing market and technical assessment, and analytical studies. When I’m not working on energy efficiency, you will either find me on a badminton court, on a getaway to the Himalayas or Rajasthan, or catching up on a movie.
After seven years with CLASP, what continues to keep you engaged?
Working at CLASP makes me feel that I am making a real contribution to the global fight against climate change. It also gives me great satisfaction to think that my work is helping my country to save a significant amount of energy, and reduce carbon emissions.
The sheer diversity of work in the field of appliance energy efficiency keeps me personally engaged. While it appears to be a niche field, it actually cuts across many other aspects of energy efficiency including buildings and industries. I also find myself drafting articles, creating bits for annual reports, attending meetings, and managing projects and partners. Each day with CLASP is unique and engaging. Plus, in India, we not only support policy formulation and revision but work across a breadth of areas including institutional capacity building and consumer awareness. We also have the opportunity to work on innovative programs, such as our recent projects on residential end-use and the impact of environmental factors on the efficiency of air conditioners. There are also international projects that provide me opportunities to expand my experience beyond India.
How do you think India is helping build regional appliance energy efficiency capacity?
I think India is doing very well with regard to appliance energy efficiency and many ASEAN countries are wanting to learn from India; either harmonize or adapt India’s Standards and Labeling (S&L) Programme. Lessons from our S&L Programme are also being adapted or replicated in other countries within ECOWAS and the Latin America region. Many want a Standards and Labeling Programme that’s as robust as India, especially in policy formation, product analysis, streamlining and strengthening through an operations manual, and other aspects that make the S&L Programme well-rounded.
How is the CLASP work culture unique?
The organization values its people and at the core of the culture is compassion and sensitivity for individuals and their families. Because we’re an internationally distributed team we take a lot of late night or early morning calls to accommodate time zones. This is acknowledged and work-life balance is central to CLASP’s culture. We’re a hard working team, but health and family are equally as important to our team health and satisfaction. This is something I truly value. CLASP’s management also cares deeply for the individual’s professional growth and is open to supporting learning and development.
How has mentorship within CLASP contributed to your success?
I give a lot of credit for my professional growth to the India team – and I have the privilege to work with Dr. Archana and Mr. Mukherjee. – who are stalwarts in the sector in their own rights. Being mentored by colleagues who have decades of experience in the energy efficiency field, has made me a well-rounded professional. Because of this I’ve been able to expand my work internationally and towards new opportunities within CLASP. In India, whatever we do is a big team effort, we don’t do anything in a silo. Everything is brainstormed and deliberated in the team. I also work closely with many international staff members, who have all contributed to my knowledge of the sector.