In this personal interview with Bina Venkataraman, former Senior Advisor for Climate Change Innovation in the Executive Office of the President, we mine Bina’s unique career path, uncovering gems of wisdom for those interested in a career in sustainability. Bina explains the power of a specific question in shaping the career of someone interested in sustainability, how careers in sustainability often develop in a non-linear fashion, and how our individual interests and experience will mold and define our career.
Bina leads efforts to advance the role of science, innovation, and technology in sustaining the health of people and the planet. She teaches at MIT and writes for publications including The New York Times & The Boston Globe.
Bina served until late 2014 as Senior Advisor for Climate Change Innovation in the Obama Administration in the Executive Office of the President, where she led initiatives to stimulate creativity and entrepreneurship on the part of communities, companies, and citizens to respond to the changing climate. She is now director of global policy initiatives at the Broad Institute, and lecturer in MIT’s department of science, technology, and society.
Bina is an alumna of Brown University and holds a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School. She is the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship, a Princeton in Asia fellowship, a Metcalf fellowship, and a James Reston fellowship. As a journalist she previously covered energy, science, and public health for The Boston Globe and The New York Times. She serves on the Brown University President’s Leadership Council.
Bina has worked in India, Alaska, Cuba, Mexico, Vietnam, and Guatemala; she grew up in the Midwest. Aside from policy, journalism, social enterprise, and teaching, her previous endeavors have included translating Spanish and English in emergency rooms, teaching writing to Harlem high school students, working the graveyard shift at a dilapidated hotel in the Arctic wilderness, lobster fishing in Baja California Sur, and cataloguing films for a cinema critic in Havana.