Sustainable Buildings and Grids

Creating with purpose: Aligning personal and company priorities

By: Erika Gupta, R&D Group Head for Sustainable Buildings and Grids

Why Engineering? That is a question I have gotten a lot. The answer is because I love a good puzzle—and because I was exposed to it early on. Engineers tend to run in my family. What I love about engineering is that it combines science, math, and business to create solutions to some of the world’s most complex problems. Why Sustainability? Well, that is one of the greatest challenges of our day. It is important to me to work on problems that matter and find solutions that can make the world a better place. 

Why Engineering? That is a question I have gotten a lot. The answer is because I love a good puzzle. Why Siemens? Our focus on Sustainability and creating technology with purpose is part of what attracted me to the role. 

Why Siemens? Our focus on Sustainability and creating technology with purpose is part of what attracted me to the role. And it was through BossmakeHer (BMH), a Siemens talent-acquisition partner, that I was able to discover this opportunity. I’m just six weeks into the job, as of this writing, but I am learning more and more about Siemens’ capabilities every day. Some of the greatest opportunities will come from integration and optimization across the Siemens offerings. By bringing buildings, microgrids, smart manufacturing, and mobility together through digitalization we can create optimized systems that reduce carbon footprint at a lower cost.   

 

Another key thing that attracted me to the company was that I was really impressed by the people I interviewed with. Starting with Dan Meyers in People & Organization (P&O; formerly Human Resources), everyone I met clearly cared about making the world a better place through our work. The company has the depth and breadth of experience required to advance the technologies necessary to tackle climate change. They also made it very clear that continuous learning and professional development is important to them. 

 

Continuing to develop myself and others has always been important to me as well. I have participated in several different STEM mentoring programs in the past, both as a mentor and mentee, and I’ve already connected with the GROW2GLOW network (Global Leadership of Women) at Siemens. I am also already looking for ways to work with Arturo Pizano, Olympia Brikis, and the rest of the Siemens Technology team improve the internship opportunities, particularly for underrepresented minorities in STEM.  

 

Addressing the climate challenge has been the focus of the last ten years of my career, working at the Department of Energy in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. I loved the degree of impact my work could have because it wasn’t influencing just one company or one location—it was focusing on providing R&D funding focused on solutions that were too high risk for most companies to invest in on their own but were critical to achieving a net-zero energy ecosystem.  

 

I worked on a variety of R&D portfolios at DOE, including: hydrogen infrastructure, building-to-grid integration, connected communities, and more. My time at the DOE gave me a deep appreciation for the importance of working across sectors to find sustainable solutions and bring sustainable products to market. If there is one thing I can take away from my time at DOE it is that collaboration and cooperation across a large and diverse organization is always challenging and takes more time than “going it alone,” but the outcome is worth it. 

 

Still, I always knew I wanted to transition from the public back to the private sector. I thought I would remain in the DC area until my stepson graduated high school in 2024—then I could start a job search. But as more companies began to make the shift to remote working during the pandemic and became much more comfortable hiring people who would be 100-percent remote, I realized that I could make the move now. Which is when BMH reached out.

 

After receiving several calls, I knew BMH was serious about starting a conversation between me and Siemens. BMH connected me with Dan, and with the management team in Technology. The quality of those initial conversations was excellent—I was able to ask as many questions as were being asked of me and learn a lot about Siemens in the process. That carried me to the interview stage, during which I was able to see the clear alignment of the leadership team’s vision and my own. I realized that as head of this R&D group I would have a lot of white space in which to create a vision for the group to focus on in the U.S. 

 

In other words, this new role was the perfect fit for me, and me for it and Siemens. BMH had made a very good pairing, which is crucial in an extremely crowded and complex job market. Women in leadership roles, or seeking leadership roles, can use BHM as a resource to connect with great opportunities at companies like Siemens that align with their professional and personal values, while also achieving their career goals.

 

I feel that I’ve clicked exactly into place here and will have an essential influence on creating positive outcomes. I’ve joined a team of leaders that understand how important it is that people are not afraid to fail. I’m not saying that failure is to be expected, but that the risk of failure is something we must tolerate. It’s absolutely necessary to push ourselves further than we think we can go, and learn from what does not work, so that we achieve more than an incremental improvement—we can leap forward and change the world.  

Published: March 24, 2022