Jessica Verhagen

CEO, Hydra Energy, Age 38


Who or what is responsible for your work ethic?

A strong connection to purpose: I work to contribute to our planet being more sustainable.


What is your guilty pleasure?



What is the best book you would recommend?

Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization by Lisa Laskow Lahey and Robert Kegan.


Now that you are (or are close to) entering your forties, what goals have you set for yourself?

At work, I focus on empowering others and scaling with value-aligned partners to have the greatest positive impact on sustainability. Generally, I want to be more fluid with uncertainty, lead more with my heart, make time for being in nature and continue building and serving my community, friends and family.


What was your childhood career dream?

My mom thought I’d be a good lawyer as I was always picking things apart to understand them from different angles, but I just wanted to have a career that resulted in improvements for people and nature. It was less about what function I had and more about the outcome. 


Name your happiest place.

Being in nature on a nice day with friends.


What was your toughest business or professional decision?

Taking on the CEO position of Hydra Energy.


What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

Benevolence towards others has to begin with self-acceptance.


What is your best habit?

Journaling — it helps me gain clarity, self-reflect, challenge and ultimately improve myself.


Tell us one improbable fact about yourself.

I briefly worked in Tanzania.

Best piece of advice ever received?

Reaching one’s full potential means relinquishing the illusion that we are separate. I feel this applies not only to our teams hitting milestones together, but also that we as people aren’t separate from nature, we’re part of it; nor are we separate from the economy, we made it.


Biggest learning (about life or business) during the pandemic?

We can choose to not let fear get the best of us. I underestimated how resilient people can be. 


What career highlight are you most proud of?

Connecting environmental outcomes with financial structures into templates to scale more sustainable business models, like the first ‘hydrogen-as-a-service’ contract I did that brings low carbon hydrogen to heavy duty truck fleets for less than the price of diesel.