Continuing with the series of interviews that began on the occasion of ‘International Women’s Day’, today we spoke with Rosa María Sanz, chairperson of Sedigas. With more than three decades’ experience in the energy sector, she is the highest representative of this association that aims to promote the use of gas as a key element of economic development in our country and as a guarantee of quality of life for future generations.
It is true that the energy sector, perhaps due to its high level of technology, especially in field activities, energy control centres and other rotational activities, has historically been dominated by men. However, we should not forget that the first female chairperson of Red Eléctrica de España, the electrical TSO, equivalent to Enagás in the gas sector, was Paulina Beato in 1984 or that the main figures in Spain in the energy world multinationals such as SHELL and ENGIE are women.
Undoubtedly, the same social demands to move towards gender equality can also be seen in the world of energy, and progress is being made.
The recent renewal of senior positions within the European Union has led to two women heading the two most important institutions, the Central Bank and the European Commission. The latter, chaired by Ursula Von der Leyen, has been very much aware of the objective of equality in European institutions since her investiture speech. There are currently 13 women Commissioners out of a total of 27 members.
From the energy sector in Spain there are several institutions that promote the talent and visibility of women, by driving equal opportunities. AEMENER, in which SEDIGAS has an investment, is an association whose objective is to encourage female initiatives in areas such as technology and engineering, to promote women in the world of energy.
Another example is the platform launched three years ago, Women4Climate. The aim is to promote and involve women in decision-making in the fight against climate change.
Companies in the energy sector have long been publicly committed to integrating skilled people into their teams, with an open mind focused on equal opportunities and diversity.
A society can no longer be understood without women playing a decisive role – women who, with a responsible vision, want to make their best contribution to development, especially in these times of uncertainty and change. We have seen some of this in recent months, where well-known female leaders in different public and private spheres have stood out for their firmness, respect for truth, humility and desire to do things well, presenting solutions above all other considerations.
It is complicated to highlight someone or something in particular from a career of more than 30 years, but in the most complicated situations where I have had to make decisions that were personally more difficult, it is true that I always have the same role model in mind. A person who, because of her honesty, with herself and with others, has been a model of way of life. I hold on to her criteria for analysis and what is more important, her values, and this helps me naturally, day by day.
In addition, I have always tried to seek learning from people I have met in my professional career, and in this I have been fortunate, both with bosses and colleagues and collaborators with whom I have been able to work.
But also from the things that come along – and never by chance – friendships, books, articles, films, music, everything can be an inspiration, even if it is not consciously sought.
The energy transition is an indisputable challenge, and one of the most complex facing modern society. The dramatic situation experienced in recent weeks has had the indirect consequence of reducing polluting air emissions, in a forced balance that has been more responsible with our environment. But we must be aware that the process of decarbonisation of the economy is a gradual and permanent process that must be developed in a fair and balanced way. It is essential to plan the stages by analysing the implications of each of the decisions taken by locating the agents and sectors affected and designing future alternatives for them as well. We must all work together for a decarbonised society, but always intelligently, to safeguard the country’s key sectors, such as energy, and seek the most efficient way to reduce emissions.
The energy transition is an indisputable challenge, and one of the most complex facing modern society
This stage of great challenges also requires great leaders, with skills adapted to this new reality. We live in a changing society, where we are all permanently connected, therefore it requires a flexible and moderate leadership but also one that brings common sense, good work and pragmatism.
In these complicated times, society has shown us its enormous solidarity. This solidarity, which is simply empathy towards others, is another of the qualities, which in my opinion, is needed in leaders right now, to face a recovery compatible with our objectives of sustainability positively, with closeness and creativity.
During the health crisis caused by COVID-19, the role of natural gas has had two main lines of action. In the short-term, the gas sector has been concerned with guaranteeing security of supply. The priority was to continue operating normally and guarantee the supply of a basic energy service, for homes and for hospitals and critical centres. But we must always guarantee the health of the people who had direct responsibility for carrying out this activity.
We must all work together for a decarbonised society, but always intelligently, to safeguard the country’s key sectors, such as energy, and seek the most efficient way to reduce emissions.
In the medium-term, and as industrial activity resumes, the role of gas in this regard is fundamental. The gas sector is essential in today’s economy because of its competitiveness in relation to other sources of energy supply and because of its contribution to the economic and financial sustainability of the production industry.
In the recovery phase of the economy, gas must be positioned as one of the main vehicles for growth. It is a key and irreplaceable source of energy for the industrial sector, as well as for long-distance and maritime mobility.
This crisis is making us rethink many areas and reorder priorities. In the energy model that we will have to build from now on, we will have to capitalise on all that we have learned, by generating sustainable value from it.
The gas sector is essential in today’s economy because of its competitiveness in relation to other sources of energy supply and because of its contribution to the economic and financial sustainability of the production industry.
The whole development of the circular economy and renewable gases, in which the gas sector is already investing, will be highly relevant. The development of these energy sources, which will allow industry to have an alternative fuel compatible with its thermal needs, but at the same time neutral in terms of carbon emissions, will also be a local focus for development and the generation of new jobs. The promotion of this line of growth will be able to add to and form part of all the measures necessary for the recovery of the economy in Spain.