Vanya Kumar


By Ms Nancy Van Nieuwenhove | February 2020

Vanya Kumar
Executive Director, Commercial and Investment Attraction, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Interests: infrastructure projects, government, investment attraction, cross industry collaboration, energy, utilities and transport.

Vanya is a Monash University Alumni and experienced public policy executive. She holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Business (Management) (Honours): “an education gives you the ability to see the world and its possibilities. My experiences at Monash University taught me to be curious, challenged me to be better and gave me courage to look beyond traditional career pathways”.

Vanya has always been interested in energy and utilities, infrastructure and the world of projects and project finance. Her interest in energy emerged during the time she worked at The World Bank: “I was working on civil systems in third world countries which drove home the importance of things like access to electricity, water, sanitation, hospitals, schools, post offices, transport and energy – things which we take for granted in developed countries such as Australia”.

Vanya’s career has taken her around the world. “I feel like I am from many places, but Melbourne is my home. For periods of my life, I have lived in the United States, India, Singapore and other parts of SE Asia. In private practice, I worked on a range of large commercial transactions and infrastructure projects. During my time in Government, I have not only had the privilege of working on a number of State-significant projects, but also projects which focus on preserving the culture and heritage of our beautiful city.”

"I feel privileged that through-out my career, I have had the benefit of strong women and men who have mentored me on my life journey. For these people, my gender, race or colour was never a part of the discussion. Though, there have been challenges and moments of despair, I am fortunate to have come after the many great women who forged a path for my generation. To achieve one’s goals, hard work, grit and humour are all essential. However, I encourage all young women (and men) to find the right mentors and networks to support them in their lives. Success should be viewed not by a single achievement, a mistake or adversity, but by the life one builds. It is a combination of the colleagues and friends one meets, the big and little achievements at work and home, and the richness of the experience".

Vanya Kumar joined the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) in October 2018. As Executive Director, Commercial and Investment Attraction, she works with the energy industry and Victorian communities to help develop a sustainable energy future. As part of her role, Vanya oversees government supported major energy projects such as the 2017 Victorian Renewable Energy Auction Scheme projects, business and industry engagement activities in the energy sector and takes a lead role in the application of the new energy technologies sector strategy.

“It’s a very exciting time to be part of the energy sector as this once-in-a-generation transition rapidly advances”. Vanya mentions that Victoria is progressing its transition, “Victoria has a set a series of renewable energy targets being 25% by 2020, 40% by 2025, and 50% by 2030 and emission reduction targets, together these targets are expected to drive investment in the renewable energy sector”. What do these targets mean in practice? “In terms of my work, I’m excited by the prospect that a range of promising new energy technologies will reach commercialisation over the coming decade, contribute to our energy transition and in achieving these targets.”

Vanya is part of the Monash Energy Institute Advisory Council since late 2019: “I’m really looking forward to supporting the cutting-edge work occurring in the energy space at Monash. I see opportunity for both government and educational institutions to share learnings and work together as our energy transition rapidly advances.”

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