Mar 28, 2024

Onyx Renewables’ Hema Gupta Leads Confidence in Communication Session at WRISE Leadership Forum

Ms. Gupta uses her resilience and perspective to empower women to reinvent themselves.

Hema Gupta has been rebranding herself her whole life. As an immigrant from India growing up in the United States, she navigated a mix of cultures, discovering her own identity as she faced discrimination at an early age. As a young person, these experiences taught her how to stand up for herself and show kindness towards others at the same time. Today, Hema brings that same resilience into the professional world, both as Onyx Renewables’ Director of Procurement and as a champion of women in the renewable energy industry. 

Hema recently took the stage at an event hosted by Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy (WRISE) to speak to the power of confidence. Her presentation, titled “Can You Hear Me Now: Communicate with Confidence and Clarity,” draws upon her personal experiences and professional endeavors as she began her career in nuclear energy, an industry in which she was often the only woman in the room.

Resilience, reinvention, and authenticity

Throughout the session, Hema emphasized the importance of bringing your personal identity into work with you so that you present your most authentic self, even in the office. She believes that by synthesizing your personal and professional identities, you become closer to yourself. Hema encourages people to reflect on their experiences, perspectives, and sense of self on a regular basis to more deeply understand the individuality they possess, and how that individuality makes them a uniquely valuable person. There is data to support the idea that bringing our whole selves to work and speaking up for ourselves catalyzes our success. By “mobilizing your identity,” you are able to bring a source of value and insight to your work.

Communicating with confidence and clarity

Once you know who you are, it’s important to know where you want to go. Hema elaborated on the need for an “elevator pitch” — a one-minute synopsis of your identity and goals — in our professional lives. Having an effective elevator pitch often opens the door to future opportunities, invites others to share their own goals, and creates a more open, communicative industry overall. 

Toward the end of her presentation, Hema invited everyone on stage to share their elevator pitches. Despite her expectation that five or so people would come up to share, nearly everyone in attendance spoke up. Some women spoke openly about their fear of exposing parts of who they are, worrying that certain elements of their background, identity, and perspective would be negatively received. But by speaking honestly about her own experiences, Hema created a space for everyone to feel comfortable and empowered to speak up.

Toward the end of the session, Hema explained, “Understanding where you’re going is really important, and you must know yourself to know where you’re going.” 

Giving voice to their identities also helped some women in the audience redefine their paths, Hema noted. After taking into account their whole selves, some of the WRISE attendees told her they were considering a shift in their career journeys. In some cases, they even came to realize what they actually wanted to do was something entirely different. 

Rooting for the underdog

The renewables sector has always been an underdog in the energy world. Hema believes one of the main reasons why the industry is so welcoming is because “we know what it’s like to be on the outside.” Recently, she’s seen more women and people of color take up positions in renewable energy as engineers, project developers, and product owners. The WRISE Leadership Forum was especially exciting for Hema because it showcased the growing number of  women that have entered the renewables industry and how many different roles they play within it. 

With renewable energy deployments skyrocketing and maintaining its upward momentum, everyone wants to come along for the ride. Onyx Renewables is proud to contribute to building an industry where everyone is empowered to speak up and be themselves, and where a more diverse range of voices helps to bring individuals and communities together. With people like Hema leading the way, the future looks bright for renewable energy.