Serena Agaba Rwejuna

Partner & Co-Head, Energy Markets and Regulatory Practice, White & Case LLP

An accomplished attorney, Serena Agaba Rwejuna found a loophole in her promise to her family not to pursue more academic degrees after she collected her fourth.

“HA HA! My cheat code is working in the energy industry,” she said. “I am able to constantly learn and develop new skills, challenge myself, tap into my intellectual curiosity and creativity, mentor, train and empower others, all while developing effective, commercially minded, real-world solutions to some of our most pressing and complex issues. I truly love what I do, and it taps into all of my greatest talents, skills and passions!”

The daughter of an East African immigrant, Rwejuna takes her standing seriously as one of just a handful of black women who are “Big Law” partners specializing in energy regulatory matters. She uses her platform to mentor and serve as a role model to diverse young professionals, particularly for the development and advancement of women, African and African American lawyers.

“Working in the energy industry, I’ve often found myself as ‘the only’—the only woman in the room, the only person of color in the room, the only woman of color in the room,” she said. “I’ve made it my mission to mentor, champion and empower other women and diverse professionals so future generations hopefully won’t have to endure being ‘the only.’”

Rwejuna has taken on the mantle of advocate and champion for diversification in the energy industry.

“Not just because it’s good for business and the bottom line, or because it’s what we need in order to support the energy transformation and energy transition,” she said. “But because it’s the right thing to do and it’s critical to empowering the next generation of leaders within our industry so they’re prepared to solve our most complex energy challenges.”

Rwejuna advises young women in the industry to “invest in building a personal board of directors, which is a group of people who you trust, admire or aspire to emulate professionally and seek out their guidance and support as you approach each major decision you have to make—whether professionally or personally.

“Having a diverse sounding board of advisers has helped me at every stage of my career and I encourage every young professional—especially women and professionals of color—to build and cultivate a personal board of directors early in their educational and professional careers.”

Rwejuna has availed herself of numerous mentors in her career, all of whom demonstrated outstanding leadership, selflessness and dedication to empowering others.

“Some of the best advice I’ve ever received is to think and act like the role you want—not the one you have,” she said. “My earliest champion in the legal profession challenged me to act and think like a partner, an executive and an owner—even as a junior associate.”

She also attributes her leadership skills, in part, to studying management.

“Attorneys are often trained to be excellent writers, effective orators and zealous advocates, but what is often missing is a focus on leadership and relationship building—and the importance of developing strong and effective leadership skills and authentic relationships,” Rwejuna said. “Learning how to lead, empower and authentically connect with others has had the most impact on my career and success.”

“It’s the difference,” she said, “between an effective individual having an immediate impact and an effective leader leaving a legacy.”

When she began her career, Rwejuna wanted to be an example for other women and professionals of color who often did not see leaders who looked like them holding the highest positions of influence within our industry.

“My passion for authentic and empathetic leadership is at the core of every goal I set for myself and my team,” she said. “My ultimate goal is to continue to break barriers, shatter glass ceilings and clean up sticky floors as an authentic leader and executive within the industry. As for my next goal, I’d love to take my unique skills and experiences to the C-suite and public company boards where I can hopefully have an even greater impact and opportunity to lead!” 

Check out the rest of Hart Energy's 2024 Women in Energy here
Three More Things

1. For more than 10 years, I’ve maintained two personal goals: do or try one new thing every week; and travel once per month. These have helped me to remain authentic, engaged and human while working in a fast-faced, demanding industry.

2. I love traveling and am on pace to have visited 40 countries by the end of this year.

3. For the past decade, I’ve been a dedicated volunteer, supporter and board leader for Calvary Women’s Services, a D.C. nonprofit organization that provides housing, health, education and employment programs to empower women experiencing homelessness and survivors of domestic violence to regain their independence.