Katya Somohano, CEO, CFE Calificados (Mexico)
What was the most significant business challenge you had until reaching your current position?
The effective start-up from scratch of CFE Calificados operations in the new Wholesale Electricity Market (MEM) in Mexico. At the time I had two simultaneous project in my hands: I was head of the Office of the Transformation of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), from where I coordinated the restructuring of CFE and its division into thirteen new companies. I was also the Chief of the Investment Promotion Unit in the same institution.
In a short period of time, I joined an interdisciplinary work team, gathering the best talent from the CFE and the private initiative. I continued to set up the company’s energy trading desk or “trading floor” and begin negotiations with developers to integrate the CFE’s qualified energy portfolio. Since then, we have spearheaded the opening of the MEM, with the achievement of key market milestones, such as the first electricity hedging contract in Mexico; we carried the first bilateral financial transaction in the Energy market, and the first private auction of Energy Certificates Clean as well.
Working in these circumstances, our aggressive commercial strategy contributed to the positioning of CFE Qualified as the leading supplier for large energy consumers we are today. The relevance of this achievement can be understood in the light of an important challenge. The “qualified supply” is a new form of energy commercialization, in which the CFE competes for the first time and in equal circumstances with private. This has involved the development of new skills to serve a new segment in a highly regulated and newly created market.
If you had to give advice to future women leaders in the Energy sector, what would it be?
Never stop getting yourself ready. The energy sector is characterized by its high regulation. It is dynamic and extremely complex, which requires studying and continuous preparation. Women who decide to participate in this sector must rely on their talent and the ability to face challenges. I would also advise you to maintain the spirit of establishing a frank dialogue and close collaboration with other relevant players in the industry. Listening is learning. Doing is growing.
I would also tell them to lead with openness to ideas, but with determination. Women are able to build bridges where there are none and find creative solutions to complex problems. Make discipline your best ally and your travel companion’s intuition.
What business policies / practical changes would you implement in your country to improve inclusion (not only gender, but religious, racial, sexual, etc.)
In my opinion it is about removing the obstacles that stop women developing their professional careers. It is necessary to build conditions to help talent flourish, keep work teams balanced. I personally do not believe in quotas as the only mechanism to generate opportunities and increase the participation of women. Women, we have the talent and the merits to achieve our goals, but only if we are given the opportunities to take advantage of them with effort.
In particular, it is important to have schemes that make family life compatible with professional challenges. A large number of prepared women stop their career because they cannot find mechanisms to balance these two facets.
Another initiative that would encourages inclusion is the recruitment of female students, through internships and professional practices. Many women can join energy projects through these mechanisms. It is a seedbed of talent and diversity. They also allow women to enter the work life and organize their personal spaces early.
On the other hand, the institutional spaces for dialogue are a controlled and safe way to exchange points of view. The implementation of these allows to develop empathy and tolerance among workers.
Finally, all labor inclusion policies must consider the adoption of policies of zero tolerance for discrimination and inappropriate behavior against women. These acts must be denounced and strongly sanctioned by the leadership.