Advocating Change

The most prestigious designation on her resume is that of Country Programme Manager, India, for the Clinton Climate Initiative of the William J. Clinton Foundation. Leena Pishe Thomas is one of the few experts in the country well versed with energy efficiency and clean technology. Her knowledge of the subject is not just academic – she is also one of the few minds to have put her knowledge to use to create viable business modules

From starting and establishing programmes for the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) in India, to promoting clean energy technology and preparing Indian entrepreneurs to flourish in the global market, 38-year-old Leena Pishe Thomas has done it all.

During her time with the CCI, from 2007 to 2009, Leena was instrumental in starting and establishing their programmes in India. “I actively developed and implemented projects in building energy efficiency, roof-top solar photovoltic power, solar thermal energy, outdoor lighting energy efficiency, municipal waste management, carbon financing, hybridizing electric vehicles etc. In the role of Program Manager for the mentioned areas, I continuously engaged with the national and various State governments in India, private sector stakeholders, technology providers, financial institutions and carbon companies to initially identify gaps, find potential solutions, conduct discussions with stakeholders and finally implement projects.

The significant results achieved include the national hybrid-electric bus program being implemented by the Ministry of Urban Development, India, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi implementing an energy-efficiency program for 62 buildings, Delhi government and a large utility implementing a roof-top solar program and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi implementing the first integrated waste management project among others,” she tells, explaining her work in detail.

Leena completed her B.A. (Honors) in History and Economics from the prestigious Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Delhi and followed that up with business management from ICFAI, Hyderabad. She also completed the technical Certified Energy Manager’s Course from Atlanta, USA, funded by the US Government and attended the Eurochambres Academy in Brussels to do a course on doing business with Europe, funded by the European Commission.

For someone who began her career working as an executive assistant at the Indo-French Chamber of Commerce in Bangalore, she has come a long way today, acting as Regional Manager Bangalore for the European Business and Technology Center and CEO and Founder of Global Business Inroads. “One of the main reasons I decided to be an entrepreneur was because I wanted to travel. There is this notion that an entrepreneur would have the flexibility to travel and work. Many people do not realize that as an entrepreneur you tend to work a lot harder just trying to keep things going,” explains Leena as she talks animatedly about her journey from working as an assistant to owning her company and training European companies on Indian market etiquette.

Apart from being a savvy businesswoman Leena is also a full time mother to two beautiful girls – aged 13 and 9 – and the wife of Shibu Thomas, a successful restaurateur from Bangalore. “I must say it has all been possible because of the support of my husband Shibu Thomas and my parents and siblings. When the job with the Clinton Foundation came my way I was very skeptical to take it up as Tanisha, my younger daughter was just two. But my husband made me believe that I was making the right decision by taking up the job; my parents encouraged me as they know how much I admired President Clinton and that working with his foundation was a lifetime opportunity.

I firmly believe that a woman is complete only when she is satisfied in the things she does. For me my home, my family, my children and my work are the fulcrum of my being,” she says.

Presently Leena holds an almost full time role with the European Technology and Business Center, which focuses on climate change mitigation and helps European technologies and companies enter the Indian market.

“I don’t know whether we are going to sort the climate change issue in time, but these things have to be done. We don’t have to change our lifestyles, we just need to use different mediums to do the same things,” tells the savvy lady as she continues her drive to sensitize the community to the impeding threat of climate change.