Noorie Rajvanshi, PhD, Director, Sustainability & Climate Strategy, Siemens US
For Siemens sustainability scientist Dr. Noorie Rajvanshi, protecting the environment and fighting climate change is more than just a job. It’s the family business.
Early life in India
“Getting a PhD and having a passion for sustainability were kind of basic requirement to be a member of my family,” laughs Noorie. “Both my parents have PhDs and both work in the sustainability field and run a research NGO in rural India. My mom is an agronomist and works in agricultural research and my dad is a mechanical engineer by training who works in renewable energy R&D.”
Noorie spent the early part of her life in India, watching her parents conduct research to solve problems of rural India and at the same time implementing principles of sustainability living in their daily lives.
“My dad was one of the very few people in the early 80s who returned to India after his graduate studies in the United States and decided to focus his work on using technology for rural development, especially in the field of renewable energy,” she says.
A career path begins
Noorie completed her undergraduate studies in India before coming to the United States for her graduate work at the University of Florida (UF). She followed her father’s footsteps and decided to pursue a PhD in Mechanical Engineering and earned a scholarship from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Much of her PhD research focused on environmental life cycle assessment. So when the opportunity arose to work as a life cycle engineer at Siemens, she felt the stars had aligned for her career.
“That was my first role within the company, and it was the perfect opportunity at the perfect time,” says Noorie. “We began to really focus on and redefine our thinking about the whole life cycle of a product. How to quantify the total the environmental impacts of a product… starting from where the material originates to the final product all the way to end of its life and how we dispose of it.”
Life cycle assessment is an increasingly complex but critical undertaking in Siemens’ overall sustainability efforts, both internally and externally. Her expertise in the field led to Noorie’s next assignment; helping cities and local governments reduce their environmental impact. Over the past five years she has been part of a team that has worked with 15 different cities in North America (including Los Angeles, Orlando, Portland, Washington, D.C. and Charlotte) to evaluate the environmental and economic impacts of these growing cities and helping them develop technology focused plans to achieve their sustainability goals.
“Cities are announcing these lofty goals for how they want to achieve climate neutrality by a certain year, explains Noorie. “But they don’t necessarily have a step-by-step strategy for how technology can help them do it. Our team developed a tool that allows cities to create a tailored plan for climate action… and by doing so we help give cities a glide path to achieve their carbon reduction goals while simultaneously creating jobs and improving air quality.”
Leading Siemens US to a Sustainable Future
Noorie recently transitioned from her external work with cities to focus on achieving the ambitious internal goal that Siemens has set for itself: becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
“My role is to figure out how we get there,” she says. “It’s a gigantic, shared task, but the job is incredibly rewarding because I get to work across all lines of business and develop new partnerships across parts of our company that will allow us to meet our carbon neutrality goal in the United States.
“For example, we have this goal of having all our fleet vehicles be electric by 2030. But how do we actually do it? How do we encourage our fleet drivers to adopt these vehicles? I use the data and analytics to inform our strategy. Figuring out who is driving, the fuel usage, our spend on fossil fuels, what kind of vehicles are we driving, how can they be converted to what is in the electric market and what’s missing to immediately start converting all our vehicles to electric?”
Noorie says the other important aspect of her role at Siemens is helping the company lead by example and the domino effect such leadership often creates.
“People are looking at us at Siemens, as one of the most sustainable companies. We have to show leadership, we have to be transparent. We need to go beyond just setting goals.
“Siemens has a huge supply chain and customer base. So, we’re also creating new avenues to work with our customers and our suppliers to help them achieve their own sustainability goals through technology.
“At Siemens, we have the technologies that are going to make every day sustainable for the whole world. We’re actually creating the products that will make a carbon neutral world. It’s a very important part of why I love working here and what I do.”
And, doing what you love and helping others achieve alongside yourself, she says, is another lesson learned from her family.
“It’s part of who I am,” adds Noorie. “I love numbers, I love data, I love to have a robust analysis behind everything. To me achieving our goals and helping others do the same is true leadership.”