Sherena Hussian: Leveraging Expertise in Business, Law and Technology to Drive Positive Impact

Sherena Hussain
Sherena Hussain

The demand for advancements through innovation has become a rallying cry across industries. From sustainable development to technological breakthroughs, the ethos of innovation is reshaping the collective future. Sherena Hussain, Chief Operating Officer at FleetZero, is driven by an ideology—advancing impact through innovation. Drawing from a diverse career spanning public-private partnerships, tax structuring and pioneering research in sustainability, she embodies a holistic approach to addressing complex challenges.

Sherena’s journey epitomizes the realization that sustainable progress requires integrated systems solutions. From structuring multi-trillion-dollar financing structures to spearheading international initiatives, she has adeptly balanced multiple perspectives and skills to drive high-impact solutions. Her tenure as CEO of climate tech startups and role on the global stage highlights her commitment to catalyzing change in critical sectors like transportation and energy.

Recognized with awards such as the Hennick Medal for Business and Law and a ULI’s Women Leadership Initiative Champion, Sherena’s influence extends beyond corporate realms. As a trusted commentator on CBC News Network’s Weekend Business Panel, she navigates and dissects trending business stories, reinforcing her expertise and thought leadership.

Within FleetZero, Sherena continues to champion innovation, scaling the company towards a future where sustainability and efficiency converge, reshaping industries and fostering a brighter, greener tomorrow.

Innovating for Impact

Being an academic in financing and partnership models, Sherena says, “Investing in sustainable infrastructure projects is crucial for global development.” Despite growing capital interest, many projects stall at the planning stage due to a deficit in a viable business model. “We need to bridge the gap between capital sources and infrastructure projects,” she emphasizes.

Sherena’s research and leadership in G7 and G20 initiatives highlights the need to enhance institutional capabilities, particularly by upskilling senior government officials. She notes that building capacity is a core first-step to deploying innovative financial structures. This lays the foundation for robust risk management and blended capital structures using both public and private capital.

Collaborating with innovators, Sherena explores cutting-edge technologies like AI to assess risk and digitally replicate infrastructure projects. These innovations help price risk accurately, she explains, emphasizing their role in advancing environmental, social and economic goals while maintaining core financial principles such as insurability and debt service.

Through her work, Sherena aims to facilitate smoother connections between capital providers and sustainable infrastructure projects. By leveraging technology and enhancing institutional capabilities, we can drive impactful investments. She underlines the importance of sustainable development in global progress with her thought leadership and collaboration at forums like UN COP.

Forging Pathways

Sherena is an advocate for equitable development, and she observes that in the midst of AI advancements and global trade shifts, sustainable development policies are often overlooked and difficult to realize. In her role as Values20 Employment and Entrepreneurship Task Force Lead, she urges policymakers to prioritize creating supportive ecosystems for entrepreneurship aligned with sustainable goals. This balances the entrepreneurial need for attracting capital while fostering sustainability.

Sherena is also involved in developing AI technologies and advocates for pragmatic policies promoting principles like privacy by design and technology for good. “We need policies that support innovation and attract capital,” she asserts, highlighting the importance of a balanced approach to technology regulation. By leveraging her expertise, Sherena strives to shape policies that encourage innovation and contribute to sustainable and equitable development, ensuring a brighter future for all.

Fostering Collective Growth

“In global development circles, I strive to create opportunities for collaboration across diverse industries,” states Sherena, emphasizing the importance of shared growth. These arenas offer unique opportunities to benefit all. By actively engaging in international gatherings, she facilitates partnerships for innovation and scalable solutions. “We aim for impact through collective action,” she stresses.

Her approach focuses on raising the bar for everyone involved, rather than individual advancement. “Achieving collective growth is aligned with my goal of impact through innovation,” she shares.

Balancing Risk and Reward

Sherena emphasizes the crucial role of law in structuring deals and financing flows for small and large projects. “A legal mind must balance attention to detail with managing risks for the client’s benefit,” she explains.

With a background in tax law, Sherena adeptly navigates capital flows and incentives to catalyze clean tech deployments. Understanding tax implications is essential in creating structures that support sustainable initiatives. Her expertise in law enables her to address the unique challenges inherent in complex projects ensuring smooth transactions and favorable outcomes for clients.

Unlocking Unique Solutions

Sherena emphasizes that technology is most effective when paired with thoughtful problem-solving. “I encourage my teams to utilize skills like active listening and critical thinking to define and solve problems,” she states.

In sustainability and technology, issues are multifaceted. Sherena fosters collaborative environments that challenge assumptions and consider stakeholder needs. This enables teams to unlock unique solutions.

Her leadership approach focuses on developing frameworks for problem-solving and implementing diverse options. By promoting core skills and collaboration, she ensures teams can address complex challenges effectively.

Elevating Sustainable Transportation

Sherena highlights real estate’s role in facilitating zero-emission mobility solutions. It is a platform for introducing necessary infrastructure and facilities. Understanding this landscape allows for nuanced solutions that generate additional cash flow for energy and transportation transition projects.

Contracting structures in real estate are also vital for electric vehicle deployment and emerging business models like fleet-as-a-service and charging-as-a-service. Sherena emphasizes the importance of utilizing these structures to support both decoupling and consortium models such as battery-as-a-service within the realm of sustainable transportation.

Towards Greener Horizons

“At FleetZero, we believe innovation thrives with technological investment,” says Sherena. Quarterly, she works with the FleetZero team to meticulously map out technology plans and solutions, prioritizing client and frontline worker feedback across different facets of the transportation and energy transition. This enables FleetZero to identify market gaps for technology solutions.

FleetZero’s proactive approach has positioned the company as leaders in leveraging technology to enhance the customer journey towards low-emission transport. By staying attuned to client needs and industry trends, Sherena leads the company to continuously refine strategies to drive innovation and impact.

Empowering Excellence

FleetZero understands the complexity of the market and stands by its clients throughout their journey. Sherena explains, “We’re there to help when challenges arise.” In times of transition, problems are inevitable but the speed in resolving them is paramount. FleetZero ensures its team remains updated on the latest innovations to address issues promptly and effectively. This includes mechanic training programs to keep staff informed about industry trends and solutions.

To stay ahead, FleetZero actively engages with industry publications and collaborates on applied research while also interacting with clients and OEMs to gather real-world insights. Regular fireside chats with the CEO ensure the sharing of valuable knowledge company-wide. By prioritizing continuous learning and collaboration, FleetZero remains a trusted partner, helping clients navigate challenges and optimize their fleet operations effectively.

Seeding Sustainable Futures

“At FleetZero, giving back is ingrained in our culture through what I call the 12 Seed Program,” Sherena explains. “Each month, FleetZero dedicates a day to community enrichment activities to both plant ideas and foster connections that improve our neighborhoods.” Sherena personally engages with universities and industry associations to encourage women to explore career paths in STEM and sustainability. Additionally, FleetZero partners with organizations like Partners in Project Green to plant trees, enhancing the Greater Toronto Area’s physical ecosystem.

A recent initiative spearheaded by Sherena involves delivering free energy transition workshops to small businesses in collaboration with local utilities. “Through these efforts, FleetZero aims to plant 12 seeds of change annually,” Sherena states. By investing in community engagement and sustainability, FleetZero embodies its commitment to making a positive impact beyond business operations.

Inspiring Confidence

Sherena is passionate about fostering women in leadership roles, actively championing emerging leaders and encouraging industry to challenging assumptions. “I aim to prevent women from being an afterthought in longer-term economic and sustainability solutions,” she asserts.

In her leadership roles, Sherena encourages women to learn through practice, ensuring they gain transferrable skills applicable across industries. Recently, she spoke at an alumni Women in Leadership event emphasizing the importance of confidence and authenticity. “It’s crucial to be true to yourself and confident in your actions,” she highlights. Through her advocacy and leadership, Sherena is dedicated to creating inclusive spaces where women can thrive and lead with authenticity.

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