Canary Media’s Loading column chronicles gender diversity in the climate tech sector. The first part is a short Q&A with an industry role model on their career path. The second part presents updates on career transitions. Please send your comments and advice to [email protected]canarymedia.com. canary thank you FischTank PR for its column support.
Kavita Patel: an impact investor who finds strength in authenticity
Kavita Patel is Director of MUUS Climate Partners, a climate technology venture capital fund that invests in climate solutions and high-tech applications. This interview has been edited and condensed for brevity.
How did you find yourself in this professional career?
I am the child of immigrants from South and Southeast Asia and have been interested in sustainable development from an early age. I completed work experience in Thailand and China that shaped my worldview, and learned the importance of the financial system in fueling the growth of these economies. I also knew that climate change was altering the integral energy and transportation systems necessary for economies to thrive. I joined BlackRock to better understand the financial markets and understand how great investors think and make decisions. I was in the Financial Institutions Group when Hurricane Harvey hit, and I also [worked there] through some of the California wildfires. My insurance clients started asking me how to integrate climate considerations into their portfolios, so I started analyzing and presenting [environmental, social and governance] and impact investing opportunities for this clientele – and I loved it. This eventually led me to MIT for a MBA, where I focused on sustainability, which allowed me to really dive into impact investing, particularly climate tech and entrepreneurship. Fortunately, this led to MUUS Climate Partners. I’m really lucky to now spend all my time thinking about how companies can scale fast enough to decarbonize the economy by 2050.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Be authentic. Early in my career, I thought I had to be serious to be taken seriously, but I’ve since learned that being authentic is actually much more powerful. Reshma Saujani has a efile Speech that deals with the need to be brave, not perfect. And that really speaks to me. It was in part this realization that inspired me to take more risks and pitch my ideas on sustainable investing strategies to the financial institutions I advised, and then to pursue a career in corporate venture capital. climate technologies. I am continually inspired by the authenticity of the women I see in climatetech who are driving decarbonization forward and embodying the passion, risk-taking and bravery that I hope to demonstrate throughout my career as well.
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What obstacle did you encounter and how did you overcome it?
I was seriously ill while receiving my MBA. It’s hard to say if I overcame it or if my doctor overcame it. I certainly couldn’t have made it without my husband, my family and my friends.
At first, I had this idea that being sick was this embarrassing vulnerability that I shouldn’t share with people. Initially, my classmates all presented themselves as perfect or as if nothing had happened. But then we had this storytelling club, and one by one everyone started sharing their real challenges. I realized we were all going through something and that was the kind of environment I wanted to live in and perpetuate. It gave me the courage to tell my own story. Now I’m very committed to leading with authenticity and vulnerability in everything I do, which coincidentally is a very powerful way to inspire, empower and engage others.
In your opinion, what are the interesting and little-known career opportunities in the field of climate technology?
There are currently many opportunities for chemical and metallurgical engineers as well as supply chain professionals. Historically, the focus on venture capital and climate technologies resume generally on software-related skills, but there is growing recognition and capital flows to hard-to-decarbonise sectors. And now, with the Cut Inflation Act, we have explicitly recognized as a country that national security and energy independence depend on domesticating the supply chains that are critical to the energy transition, especially in metals and mining. These are the areas our portfolio companies ask us the most about when looking to recruit.
What is your superpower?
Flexibility of mind. In today’s world, it feels like we’re encouraged to take sides or choose a team and stick to that point of view at all costs. I make a concerted effort to constantly seek out new information and adapt my views accordingly and to try to uncover and adjust my biases, recognizing that we all have them. I find that being able to articulate my thinking and this journey really helps to build consensus, both in investment decision-making and also more generally in the world of climatetech resumewhere so many stakeholders are needed to get things done.
Career Development in Renewable Energy and Cleantech Venture Capital
Emily Fritze has been promoted to partner at The Westly Group, a venture capital investor focused on climate technology.
Meredith Breach has joined venture capital investor Energize Ventures as a senior investment associate, where she will support the firm’s growth capital platform. Energize Ventures recently led the $22 million Series A investments in Sinai Technologies, a decarbonization intelligence platform. Energize Director Eileen Waris has joined Sinai’s Board of Directors as a director, and Lauren Densham, Energize’s Head of Impact and Environment, Social and Governance, has joined Sinai’s Board of Directors. joins the Board of Directors as an observer.