Celebrating Women in MRE: An Interview with Adrienne Downey


In the rapidly evolving renewable energy landscape, women are playing a pivotal role, not just as participants but as shapers of a more equitable and sustainable future.

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Adrienne Downey, an enthusiastic advocate of inclusivity in the energy sector.  Adrienne Downey, serving as the Principal Engineer and Country Manager at Hexicon, is a trailblazer in the marine renewable energy (MRE) sector. Leading NYSERDA’s offshore wind program, she secured over 4.1 GW towards the 9 GW target by 2035. With a background in Chemical Engineering and Sustainable Environmental Systems, Adrienne’s expertise drives high-impact projects for a sustainable future. She brings extensive experience to MRE, advocating for advancements and progress in the industry, but it is her current role in the US offshore wind market that truly highlights her proficiency in marrying engineering acumen with strategic energy solutions, making Adrienne an exemplar of multi-faceted leadership in a technically intricate domain.

Adrienne’s narrative serves as a compass for professionals and aspiring experts, charting their own paths in renewable energy. Her career embodies the collective viability of women steering high-stakes, large-scale projects that support a healthy planet.

The Power of Allyship and Sensitivity in Leadership

In our conversation with Adrienne, what stood out was the subject of allyship but also sensitivity in leadership. She underscores the unique sensitivity women bring to leadership roles – an awareness that allows for a more comprehensive response to both operational challenges and broader social and environmental implications. She highlights, “[women’s] innate interconnectedness and the importance of collaboration and social interdependence in achieving high-impact and durable results…that is the superpower of women without a doubt… we think in systems and create processes rather than specific outputs to achieve ambitious goals. We recognize that durable solutions are people-centric and process-driven – that to be successful, they need to be living and breathing and nurtured to take on a life of their own, part of that makes me think very much of motherhood.”

Mentors, Networks, and Professional Touchstones

Mentorship and networks emerge as a cornerstone of Adrienne’s journey, playing a vital role in personal and professional growth. As Adrienne highlights, mentors offer guidance through challenges, while also benefiting from the fresh perspectives of mentees.

Beyond personal networks and mentorship, she highlights the importance of organizations and platforms like Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy (WRISE), and how they are instrumental in creating a space for professional networking and education for individuals across the industry.

Learning by Embracing Diversity

Under the spotlight of gender diversity, Adrienne reflects on her leadership responsibilities and emphasizes the importance of recruitment, support, and inclusivity in retaining a diverse workforce. She maintains, “You have to think about how you’re recruiting and then once you get past the recruitment perspective, what are you doing to support and retain people? How are you making the workforce inclusive: institutionally, practically, and as humans? It doesn’t end by getting people in the door.”

She advocates against micromanagement, highlighting the need for trust, alignment of vision and core objectives, and adaptability in a high-performing workforce.  She observes, “There is no playbook for Climate Change; now – more than ever – we need to be open to different ideas and approaches. It’s not the time to rely solely on the tried-and-true templates because they are outdated and insufficient in helping us to collectively succeed in tackling this extremely complex and multifaceted generational shift in our energy sector.” Her position, however, is clear. To be a leader is not just about being at the forefront; it is about opening channels for learning and growth. When you lift up and empower those within your sphere of influence we unlock the collective treasure trove of many minds, perspectives, talents, and experiences. Embracing diversity is just the first step.

Encouraging Risk-Taking and Self-Value

For those entering the renewable energy sector, particularly women and underrepresented groups, Adrienne recommends embracing risks, rejecting stereotypes, and crafting personal narratives that emphasize growth along the journey not a fixed outcome. The narratives we write for ourselves should be rooted in confidence, continual learning, and value intellectual and emotional growth.

Her message resonates universally, emphasizing that struggle and failure is not the antithesis of success but an integral part of the journey. ”When we try new things, embrace challenges, and take risks, we evolve, adapt, and carve our unique paths.”

Risk becomes a stepping-stone, and its reward is growth and learning. So, let us write our stories unapologetically and embrace the journey ahead.