Greenhouse Pioneer: Wendy Stephenson
Wendy Stephenson is a renewable energy engineer and became CEO of The Converging World in 2009. Since then, Wendy has grown the business from an operating capacity of 3MW to 13MW and established teams in Chennai and Mumbai. Wendy was one of the keynote speakers at the Women in Sustainability event that marked International Women’s Day, so we met up to find out what drives her and her top tips for women struggling to get their voices heard. Tell us, in 20 words or fewer, about The Converging World - what's your mission? To converge towards one planet living, through investing in renewable energy and using the surplus for reforestation. What drives you? My deep connection with the natural world. I have always felt really at home in the natural environment, so to see the degradation and the lack of respect and the separation – the way we have set ourselves apart from nature – I find that really challenging. India is no different, where I spend a lot of my working life and where I am regularly confronted with air pollution and rivers of plastic. What message did you want to convey at WINS’ International Women’s Day event? If we could stop focusing on male vs female and start focusing on the qualities that are needed in the workplace – both feminine and masculine – then we could move beyond gender and it would just become a human issue. Right now, the masculine dominates and is out of balance and has been running riot for centuries, and I believe that is one of the major causes of the environmental degradation that we must now address. What would you tell women who struggle to get their voices heard at work? I still struggle with how to have the feminine voice heard in a male-dominated environment. I don’t want to give up my feminine qualities but being soft is often seen as being weak. Somehow, we have to find a way to break the pattern of self-doubt in women that goes right back to the classroom, even earlier in some cases. We have to really start believing in ourselves and the value that we bring, but not in a forceful way. We have to do it in a way that is straightforward and honest and unemotional – backed up by facts and evidence. How is The Converging World inspiring change in others? We have a can-do attitude. We’re a small charity but we’ve gone out to India, one of the most challenging business environments in the world, and we are still there 10 years later. We have proven the model and now we’re going to scale it. If we can do it, whether it’s reforestation or wind farms, anyone can do it. Let’s stop talking about it and just get on with it. What's the best advice you've ever been given? There’s no such thing as failure – you can only learn from the journey. Can you leave us with who'd be your Eco Hero? Charles Eisenstein. He speaks very eloquently and passionately about the shift in consciousness that is needed if we are going to address climate change. His book, Sacred Economics, traces the history of money from ancient gift economies to modern capitalism, revealing how the money system has contributed to alienation, competition, and scarcity, destroyed community, and necessitated endless growth. I am having more and more conversations with people who are frustrated with the lack of progress being made in tackling climate change and improving our natural environment. If it’s getting worse, then something else has to shift. And part of that narrative is about being the change we want to see in the world and perhaps a shift in consciousness. They say it takes just 1% of the world to make a change. So let’s get on and make it. About Greenhouse At Greenhouse, we support a wide variety of organisations pioneering new standards of sustainability across multiple sectors. Whether it’s fashion, finance or farming, we’re always on the look-out for new opportunities to reach our clients’ target audiences. If you’ve got a great story and need our help to tell it, we’d love to hear from you.