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The strength of the team

The strength of the team

Marlène is French, Antonio is Peruvian, and they both work in the Business Line International and Emissions department at Laborelec, share a strong bond and form, as Marlène says, a French Peruvian super duo!  We asked them a few questions about their career path and their vision of professional equality.

Professional equality means seeing the real added value of your colleagues beyond differences and ensuring that everyone is on an equal footing, with equal pay recognition. Marlène

The difference in power between men and women depends on education and exposure to the outside world. Antonio

Could you sum up your career path in a few words? 

I have a degree in international business during which I was able to do an internship in London, then a European degree in International Management (DEMI) in Poland. I then validated my year with an internship in Belgium in an oil trading company where I stayed for six years as a trading salesperson with my own client portfolio. I followed international customers from A to Z for different types of products such as heavy fuel, bunkering, distillates, special products on prospecting, petroleum trading, marketing, transport, customs and stock management.
After this episode in the world of oil, I wanted to better understand the energy world as a whole and in 2018, I started working in sales at Tractebel in the Energy department. In June 2021, I joined Laborelec as Offering & Sales Officer in the Emissions & International department.
I am Peruvian and an electromechanical engineer. 
After studying in Peru, I worked in the mining sector in South America for almost two years. But I felt it wasn't my vocation and I realised I would rather work in the energy sector. 
In 1998, I joined ENGIE in Peru, where I worked in almost all the group’s activities, from the construction of power plants, through to their maintenance and operation, and to the natural gas sector. 
In 2007, I started a new journey in R&D and expertise at Laborelec, where I had the unique opportunity to work in different areas of expertise and in positions ranging from KAM expert, to Branch Manager, and finally to my current position as Sales Manager, in Belgium and in our branch in Chile.

Can you sum up your mission in one sentence?

Through commercial offers, I bridge the gap between the technical language of our experts and I take care of logistics. My aim is to best represent Laborelec and meet the identified needs of customers.
With Marlene, we are responsible for sales and therefore for the profitability of our department. It is very important for us to have the cooperation of the whole team. I use a lot of my technical expertise to work with Marlene and we complement each other on commercial and technical aspects.

Do you see being a woman/a man in this job as an advantage or a liability? 

At ENGIE, it’s quite neutral, I don’t feel any difference, even though I find that in this environment, which is sometimes very masculine, the diversity that I bring as a woman is always a plus. On the commercial level in particular, I bring another perspective that is sometimes complementary to that of my colleagues.
It was very different in oil trading where I worked before. This is the sector where I think I have suffered the biggest difference in treatment due to the clichés about being a woman, of French nationality and being younger than average. In certain circumstances, I had to establish myself and create a place for myself to be heard and respected at my fair value.
I am an exception in my family, I am the only man in the midst of many women. I've always worked and shared with women. For me there is no real difference, no advantage or disadvantage in working with women. I have worked with very competent men and women over the course of my career. 
In some areas of the industry, it's probably still difficult for women. But at ENGIE, the most important thing is the motivation and competence of the individual. Our team is very international, there are French, Peruvian, Italian, Caribbean, Iranian, and Bosnian people, and the most important thing for me is the motivation within the team, the relationship between people and diversity. 

In your view, professional equality means...?

It means seeing the real added value of your colleagues beyond differences (age, gender, years of experience, nationality, degree, physical appearance, etc.) and ensuring that everyone is on an equal footing, with equal pay recognition. 

Marlène, I suppose that in your former job, you may have had experiences related to professional diversity? 

I have had a lot of experiences in fact, it's a different environment...but it's difficult as a woman surrounded by men to know when you should be offended and where the line is where it wouldn’t be ridiculous to report this type of behaviour. 
These six years were the basis for my relationship to normality in terms of the place of women in business, which was wrong. But at ENGIE I am delighted to see that gender equality is at a much more advanced stage. 

And you, Antonio? For example, in the mining sector, did you encounter situations or clichés about the division of work between men and women?

During my time working in the mining sector, I realised that women’s work in remote operations was very difficult, especially for a woman with children. The mines are very far from the cities, and you can't go home every night. I think there is probably more flexibility today. 
But the problem is more global. In small villages in Peru, my wife and I found that the difference in power between men and women depends on education and exposure to the outside world. Education and better living conditions help to reduce these differences.

What aspect of your job do you find most exciting?

A big part of my work is about relationships which I am very passionate about, whether with customers, suppliers, carriers or my colleagues. It is always a challenge to respond exactly to their needs, but the satisfaction that this brings me when this happens is a real driver for me.
For me, it’s an opportunity to link expertise and management. To have a lot of expertise, be able to pass it on to customers and also ensure that you get a good result.  What I find increasingly important is the relationship aspect with colleagues. Without a good, highly motivated team we would not be able to achieve our objectives.  

What’s the craziest project you've ever worked on?

Whether at Tractebel on large offers or in trading when French refineries went on strike, and the French resellers started ordering in Belgium 24/7, these are always stressful moments but also those which have given me the best memories thanks to my colleagues and the atmosphere created in the team. 
Having only been at Laborelec for a short time, I like to be involved in maintaining the cohesion of my team through meeting other colleagues within the YPN which I’m involved with, and various actions such as TADA which aims to introduce disadvantaged children to new jobs.
In 2001, there was a very large earthquake of magnitude 8.4 in Peru. Many people died and there was a total blackout. Our challenge was to replenish and maintain electricity supply to the entire community. We worked with the entire team to restart power plants that had been damaged and/or to prevent further damage to key equipment such as the steam turbine. Some colleagues who had no family in the town where we lived and I were at the power station, while other colleagues whose family were waiting for them went home. We worked all night and the following days, with great difficulty, to restore the plant to working order. 
What I found most exciting was the collaboration between people and empathy between colleagues who had to stay at home and those who were working at the plant.

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