Carlyle's Goyal Brings India Lessons to Infrastructure, Energy Investing
Bloomberg Markets|August - September 2021
POOJA GOYAL, 41, brings a unique personal insight to Carlyle Group Inc., where she leads the renewable and sustainable energy team and co-heads the infrastructure group.
BRIAN ECKHOUSE

A native of Mumbai, Goyal says her early experiences in India showed her how essential reliable infrastructure is for a community. At the University of Pennsylvania, she received degrees both from the school of engineering and applied science and from the Wharton School. A research project on catastrophe bonds led her to a job at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and eventually to Carlyle, where she’s now a partner. She spoke with Bloomberg Markets in late June about her career and the opportunities she sees today. The interview was edited for length and clarity.

BRIAN ECKHOUSE: Was there anything in your childhood that hinted at a career focused on energy, climate, or natural disasters?

POOJA GOYAL: My family comes from a town in India called Mathura, and I used to spend my summers there. We didn’t have access to consistent or reliable electricity; we didn’t have access to a clean water supply; wastewater systems are not reliable. I have some very specific memories around how infrastructure impacted our day-to-day lives. So, for me, infrastructure—and more specifically clean sustainable infrastructure—has been an important theme that’s driven a lot of my decision-making.

BE: Can you share any of those memories?

PG: This is a very specific example because I remember it in a great amount of detail. The summers out there used to get very hot—consistently mid-to-high 90s. In the evenings we would actually spray cool water on the rooftops and sleep on the rooftops because that would be cooler than sleeping indoors. We not only didn’t have air conditioning, but power outages were fairly consistent, which would make it impossible to sleep indoors. You have monkeys out on these rooftops. But more than that, you don’t have any privacy, which is not particularly reassuring from a safety perspective.

I used to remind myself that I’m only visiting for the summer, but my family lived there throughout the year. When you don’t have your basic needs met, how do you think about education? How do you think about economic development? So, for me, infrastructure is just very critical in terms of driving social as well as economic development. I do think sustainable infrastructure actually does that in an equitable manner.

BE: Have you always wanted to work on something that would make a tangible difference for society?

PG: I come from a family of very strong-willed women. My maternal grandmother had four daughters. That is very tough when you have four daughters and no sons growing up in India. So between my grandmother and my mother—who was married off before she could go to college—and my mother’s three sisters, I was taught from a very young age that it was incredibly important for a woman to be financially independent.

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