“The Stem and AlsoEnergy leadership carries extensive experience, knowledge, and expertise in this industry and has created a performance-driven culture that rewards enterprise and offers a great environment for the people and the organization to grow.”
– Sushain Sharma, Managing Director – Stem India
Tell us about yourself and your background.
I come from the northern, mountainous Himalayan belt of India and now live in Gurgaon in the National Capital Region. I am an engineer by education and attended business school at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. My career has spanned several industries, mainly in manufacturing, Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), e-commerce, and logistics. Prior to working in clean energy, I was running a startup that ambitiously sought to bring technology and analytics interventions to the logistics sector. While still nascent, conversations around electric vehicles (EVs) and green logistics models were springing up in several discussions, and my curiosity was piqued. The move into the renewable energy industry was fortuitous and unplanned, yet I’ve been here for more than six years now and have loved every single day.
On the personal front, my wife loves the mountains, and I have been (quite happily!) dragged along on some extremely adventurous trans-Himalayan treks and ice-climbing expeditions. I love to cook traditional Indian food and consider myself an amateur food originist. I enjoy listening to rock (Iron Maiden being the go-to) and occasionally playing the drums.
What is your role at Stem?
I head the New Delhi, India office for Stem and lead its development as a global capability center with almost a hundred employees focused on sales support and customer success. When AlsoEnergy was acquired by Stem earlier this year, the India office witnessed tremendous growth in size and responsibility to set up domestic sales in the region. Those with experience in Asia-Pacific would know how incredibly tough this market is to sustain let alone thrive in. We work with several marquee PV developers and IPPs in the region and have created a glowing reputation for our products and services. Now a part of Stem, we are committed to internationalization, prospecting new markets, creating an unparalleled engineering and technology center, and catapulting the organization into the next stage of growth. We are investing massive effort and time in bringing the best talent pool on board and continuing to build for the future. I play my part in streamlining operations and processes that are internationalized to India, overseeing transition challenges, keeping communication channels open, and establishing feedback mechanisms to continuously improve. I am also part of the team prospecting and strategizing for organic and inorganic growth opportunities for Stem in the APEC region.
What’s the most interesting thing you have worked on lately?
Talent acquisition has been critical as we continue to grow. We have been receiving continual new-hire requests over the past few months. Without a doubt, growing the Stem and AlsoEnergy team in India has been a unique experience in this supercharged tech market, and scaling up rapidly has been our top priority – kudos to the HR team and the hiring managers for the amazing job they are doing!
Growth comes with its own challenges and opportunities. Creating a healthy team culture is incredibly important to provide people with an atmosphere of collaboration where they can trust each other and feel valued. Evolving into a process-driven mindset requires time and mentorship – the unflinching support and motivation from the leadership team at Stem and AlsoEnergy has been such a joy. I do not know of many companies where the leadership team makes the herculean effort to present themselves to teams across the globe. Being able to speak in person with them is always motivating to our office culture and facilitates lucid communication. Along the way, we have celebrated small wins, played cricket matches, and outgrew our original office space – all while growing as One Team.
What recent industry trends have made a big impression on you?
Evolving technologies and policies across the US and Europe are well known. In India, the line between C&I and utility-scale clean energy is rapidly blurring. Wind-solar hybrid projects are becoming mainstream even in the C&I segment. There has been sustained private investment to complement the government’s renewable energy push, and several India solar EPCs and project developers have seen big investments from global private equities. Storage, green hydrogen, and eMobility have found advocates across industries and sectors and are at various stages of growth. The local government recently awarded the world’s largest storage tender (3GWh) to an Indian independent power producer. More than 23 GW of renewable energy assets has been acquired and consolidated this year alone.
An effect of this tectonic shift are the global reputations several Indian solar companies have made for themselves. We regularly come across companies like S&W and Mahindra in all the geographies we operate in across EMEA, Australia, and North America. That global visibility gives them a significant advantage of plowing technological innovations into all markets, and it puts us and other energy companies under healthy pressure to constantly innovate and improve our products, service, and pricing. It is strangely motivating to see these companies make more stringent demands on technology and quality every day… just goes to show the Asian renewable energy industry is taking strides toward maturity. It makes us uniquely positioned to leverage global engagements and calls for a concerted and harmonized sales effort.
All this progress is fueled by an immense workforce, and we have seen the industry absorb more talent than ever before. Recently, I came across a job advertisement by a large Indian IPP conducting walk-in interviews for more than 800 positions – from technicians all the way up to VPs – in one day. Renewable energy companies like Stem and AlsoEnergy are some of the largest recruiters across premier engineering campuses nowadays. And the enormity of the renewable energy revolution is not lost on candidates either. I see this industry fast becoming a magnet for the best brains as people start realizing how they can use innovative technology and research to catalyze a better future for themselves and the world.
Any advice for newer professionals interested in this space?
This trifecta that we exist in – renewable energy, AI, and analytics – is an amazing spot to begin and build careers. The industry is young, and the missing burden of legacy is a great equalizer. If people are passionate about the work that they do, their lack of prior experience in energy is no detriment to starting here. That also fosters inclusion where everyone is respected for their skills and ability to adapt irrespective of their background. We have had people who joined us fresh out of college in Support and then moved across teams to Engineering or Product Development because they demonstrated that ambition and capability. You constantly need to update your skills and knowledge since we are ahead of the curve.
What about Stem would you want our partners/customers to know?
Stem and AlsoEnergy coming together heralds the coming-of-age of the energy optimization industry. We are bringing together the best-of-class software, hardware, and services to the market and are committed to working with our partners and customers across the globe towards more optimized solutions. Stem and AlsoEnergy is truly an international group supporting partners and customers in various time zones through our network of international offices. The challenge is operationalizing it to truly provide customer support quickly & fairly – that’s what this organization has been consistently delivering and has been aptly recognized for industry-wide. The Stem and AlsoEnergy leadership carries extensive experience, knowledge, and expertise in this industry and has created a performance-driven culture that rewards enterprise and offers a great environment for the people and the organization to grow.