Women in Energy Story Telling: Doina Vornicu

My name is Doina Vornicu, I am the Chief Operations Officer of CEZ Group in Romania, one of the well-known leaders of the energy sector.

I am currently involved in the transformation of CEZ Group in Romania into a smart company, with improved processes, like remote control grids, better services and new technologies.

When I look back at the starting point of my career, I would say that the first real contact with the energy field happened after my graduation in 1985, when I started working at IRE Botosani, a subsidiary of the Industrial Plant of Energy Grids of the Energy Ministry.

Then came the year of 1991, when I became the first Romanian Technical Director of the National Energy System, this being my first big step on the career ladder.

Other top management positions followed in SC Electrica SA (the Romanian national energy company), the General Directorate of FRE Botosani in 2000, and the Manager position of International Projects at Transelectrica in 2005, where I got the opportunity to launch the project of the 400 kV Romanian–Turkish submarine cable.

My path in the energy field offered me the opportunity to encounter all sorts of great personalities, starting with the people that built the national energy system from which I had the chance to learn strategy, tactics, politics, and more important, how to improve my work.

Another important lesson I got from those times is that there’s more to being a good manager than perseverance and hard work, it’s about giving your colleagues a goal and convincing them to follow that goal— which will bring the whole team a well-earned success.

In 2006, a new and exciting opportunity was revealed to me in the energy private sector, this being the moment I joined CEZ Group in Romania, a company that puts a great value on its employees, helping and preparing them at a superlative level and giving them the chance to strive. I am the best proof of that, being the first Romanian manager granted the second position of importance in the group’s business in Romania, that of Chief Operations Officer.

I am often asked who do I give credit for my success? And my answer is simple: to my family and colleagues, the persons I have encountered in this field, which somehow managed to shape me into the person that I am now. It’s all about people and their dreams. Energy comes from people, as we at the CEZ Group in Romania, like to say.

I never had trouble in balancing work and family time because my family is very supportive of my work, they are always there, beside me, encouraging and helping me all the way. I would not have gotten so far in my career if it weren’t for them; they gave me confidence and support throughout the most important moments. My husband for instance, is also an engineer in the field, so he gets the utility and importance of my job.

The main perk of my job and of those in the energy field, is the chance we get to provide an essential item in everybody’s life by lighting up the bulb in their homes.

My professional life has always been a challenging one and I confess I wouldn’t have it any other way. Therefore, I cannot name the biggest challenge of my career, I prefer to say that all challenges are important when they come.

I am very proud of every single project I was involved in and if I were to mention only one, that would be the wind park that Group CEZ in Romania built at Fantanele and Cogealac.

In this project, displayed in the Dobrogea area, I was the Risk Manager at the largest on-shore wind park in Europe, with a capacity of 600 MW installed power that gathered 240 wind turbines that produce a large portion of the green energy requested by the EU from Romania.

I recall many hours of hard work, taking great risks and many challenges. It was the first project in Europe of this magnitude, it required a special care towards the environment and we had limited time to obtain all approvals and notices needed. The project also benefited from the engagement of many international teams.

In the energy field, a woman needs perseverance and a strong team. I remember working 10 times more than my fellow colleagues to achieve the same results as them or even better ones. Also, the team you work with is very important because success is usually gained by the effort of a team.

In the 90s for instance, the energy field was mostly a male field, but now, it’s a domain where women can evolve and put their mark on the next big revolution, which might as well be grid-less energy.

I think that women are very appreciated for their commitment and that large companies like the one I work for, are the best environment that can consolidate and shape a career.

If I were to offer advice to young women in search of a career in Energy, I would say to choose books as best friends from the early stages of their academic preparation and know that people, honor, and perseverance are the key ingredients for building a long-lasting career.

A good example of must read for high-performing women to stay ahead of the curve is Dale Carnegie’s “Scrisoare catre unii tineri/ Letter to some young people.”

Also, someone else’s experience can give you the confidence you need to achieve all your goals. Mentoring can be an inspirational source and stories of success can help its readers draw their own carrier path.

I think that the attitude towards women being at the helm on important businesses is starting to change and that prejudices tend to appear when the person in question doesn’t think she/he is the perfect match for a certain job, therefore, confidence is the key in making someone invest in your career, closely followed by perseverance and hard work. A great leader is most likely to observe the talent of a confident women and to help her advance further the career ladder.

In closing, I would like to share the words that guided me to make the decisions that had the potential to change my life, words written by Nicolae Iorga: “Nu spune niciodată ‘nu se poate’, ci începe cu ‘să vedem”/ Never say: “It’s not possible.” Say instead, “We shall try and see,” which also became my favorite motto.