The energy industry is often seen as male-dominated, with females facing significant barriers in breaking through the glass ceiling. However, society has seen more women achieving high-level positions and making a substantial impact.
This article explores the experiences of three female leaders of AboitizPower, one of the country’s largest energy companies. The piece highlights these “power” women’s views on success in a male-dominated industry, the challenges that come with it, and strategies to overcome these hurdles.
Vice President for Innovation and Digital Transformation, Aboitiz Power Corp.
Chat Balita’s keen interest in technology and its promise for the future led her to work in industries perceived as male-dominated, including defense, railways, air space, and now, energy. She believes technology is key to creating opportunities for women in these industries and bridging the gender gap in the workplace.
Technology knows no bounds in terms of gender, age, background, and origin, she said. Technology paves the way for equality and inclusion.
“My advice to those young women who want to build a career in these sectors is to be tech-savvy, learn some digital skills, and incorporate technology in their day-to-day work regardless of function,” Chat shared.
AboitizPower has several community programs to address the digital gender gap through its corporate programs or in partnership with external organizations with the same advocacies. According to Chat, these programs and policies promote equity for career advancement and leadership roles in the workplace.
“Empowering women in the workplace through the right policies, equal valuation of contribution, and being provided the same voice and representation in decision-making to shape the company’s future is crucial,” she said.
Chat also emphasized the importance of having a female network in her career journey. “The power of having mentors and colleagues facing the same struggles, sharing the same energy and passion, and inspiring each other is significant in overcoming challenges,” she added.
In AboitizPower, women leaders make up 32 percent of the executive team.
Knowing she’s contributing to the bigger purpose of AP as an organization motivates and inspires Chat to continue to excel in her role. In her line of work, she makes a huge effort to motivate and mentor the next generation of women leaders who demonstrate potential and the drive to make things happen.
She hopes younger women will feel more empowered to pursue leadership roles and break down gender barriers in the workplace by sharing her journey and stories of success.
Senior Vice President for Corporate Services – Luzon, AboitizPower Thermal Business Group
Ginger Tanchi’s passion for numbers led her to pursue a career in finance. As a Certified Public Accountant, she spent 15 years building her career in Business Finance and Controlling.
In 2020, she shifted to Corporate Services to seek a different challenge and broaden her perspective. Today, Ginger is a shining example of a successful woman in a male-dominated industry.
As a woman, Ginger faced many challenges in the industry. Still, she never saw her gender as a hindrance to her success.
“I felt privileged to work alongside many great women leaders and earned the respect of my peers and leaders regardless of gender,” Ginger said.
“I am proud to be part of a company that observes a culture of meritocracy and inclusion. I have never felt that excelling as a woman is challenging in AboitizPower.”
Ginger faced high demands on her time and energy in her position, but she never let it affect her personal life. She always found time to do things that helped her recharge, like playing golf, spending time with family and friends, and traveling.
Ginger said she believes in meritocracy and advocates equal opportunities for career advancement and leadership roles. She said companies should promote the best talent for the role, regardless of gender.
“Companies should encourage women to pursue careers in any field and showcase internally what women in different positions have achieved,” Ginger said.
Ginger’s motivation comes from seeing her team members and teams grow and develop together. “My life principle is to leave things better than I found them, and I hope to continue doing so,” Ginger said.
For the company, she is excited to see how AboitizPower will help shape the energy industry’s future and hopes her team will contribute to that vision.
Assistant Vice President for Renewable Energy Business Development, Aboitiz Renewables Inc.
Growing up in a small rural community in Albay, Kris Margallo thought she didn’t have enough female role models to look up to. As a young woman, her career options were limited to what she could see.
Kris was the eldest of eight siblings and wanted to help her parents send her siblings to college. Most of the huge concrete houses in her childhood neighborhood were owned by lawyers, doctors, and engineers, so she thought that could be her path. At that time, her folks didn’t have enough resources to put her through medical or law school, so she pursued engineering.
“It also helped that the Tiwi geothermal field, one of the oldest in the country, can be found in my province. I grew up fascinated by the idea of producing electricity from the hot steam beneath the ground,” she shared.
With her interest in geothermal and love for Chemistry in high school, she took up Chemical Engineering at the University of the Philippines, Diliman.
After graduating and before joining AboitizPower, Kris worked for a geothermal energy producer for almost five years as one of its few female drilling engineers. On her first site assignment, she found herself on board an onshore drilling rig with over a hundred men.
“I believe it is not an issue of gender. If you don’t desire to work in the field on long shifts and away from home, the job won’t be right for you as a person. The issue, I think, is a lack of female role models,” Kris emphasized. This often brought her back to her childhood days in her hometown, yearning for a female figure to draw inspiration.
Tasked to lead AboitizPower’s geothermal drilling campaign in Indonesia a few years back, she considered her doubts about her capability to lead as her biggest challenge. She was the youngest in the room, the only female, and tasked to manage hundreds of men in a highly patriarchal culture.
“What helped me was the support of my managers and constantly reminding myself that I was not there by accident. I was there because I deserved to be there,” said Kris.
She added that one of the reasons why women are underrepresented in the sector is the misconception that one has to be in a technical role. But, Kris, with her chemical engineering background, pursued an MBA and took up investment banking, demonstrating that there are several pathways for women to join the industry.
“I would like to highlight that no ‘correct’ pathway exists. Remember to choose the path that fits your interests, skill sets, and personal goals,” said Kris.
Kris recently rejoined AboitizPower and now holds a leadership role in the team responsible for creating business opportunities for renewable energy technologies in Southeast Asia.
Kris Margallo, Assistant Vice President for RE Business Development, is a remarkable woman who leads by example. She encourages diversity and inclusion and inspires young people, particularly women, to pursue careers in the RE sector.
Female leaders like Chat, Ginger, and Kris serve as role models. These women are paving the way for a more inclusive and equitable future by breaking barriers and stereotypes. They inspire young women to pursue careers in the energy sector, showing that they, too, can succeed in traditionally male-dominated fields.
With an increasing demand for innovative and sustainable energy solutions, having a diverse workforce that represents different perspectives and experiences is crucial.
The energy industry has been traditionally male-dominated and is still primarily so. But the presence of female leaders like Chat, Ginger, and Kris is a testament to the fact that the glass ceiling is slowly but surely breaking.
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