Meet Boyana Achovski, GIE Secretary General

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Editorial board
14 March 2024
Meet Boyana Achovski, GIE Secretary General

How did your journey into energy and climate start?

My journey into the energy and climate sector has been quite unexpected…! Yet immensely rewarding. With a background in international relations, I initially aspired to evolve in politics and even diplomacy. For sure, energy was not yet part of the picture. This was until I joined Bulgartrangaz, the national operator of the Bulgarian gas infrastructure, which offered me a managerial opportunity. I had to lead a team of experts, mostly men, to drive international investments to leverage the development of our gas network. Thirteen years later, I find myself deeply rooted in the fascinating topic that is energy and its policy developments at the European level.

What are the key lessons learned from this journey?

That’s important to embody bravery, determination, and discipline, all while maintaining a positive mindset. Invest in yourself to nurture your confidence and remember to surround yourself with a supportive network. I’m thankful for the inspiring mentors and dedicated team members who have played a significant role in today’s success.

Could you tell us more about your current role and responsibilities?

Being the head of a European association is a great responsibility: our actions are leveraging the transformation of the whole European landscape. We support people and industries on their path towards climate neutrality by developing solutions to transport, import and store molecules, including hydrogen and biomethane.

As we represent members coming from 25 countries, we understand the national starting points towards decarbonisation within European regions. It’s our duty, as politicians, industry leaders, or citizens, to nurture diversity in our workforce and in our energy systems. That is the only way to deliver the necessary resilience and sustainability for a successful energy transition.

For energy resilience, we must diversify supply routes and sources and build on the synergies that exist between molecules and electrons. When it comes to people, we should make sure to explore the creativity and efficiency generated when genders, generations, and cultures partner up. One thing is clear: we need more women in driver seats.

Working at the heart of EU policymaking, we understand how rich the EU is because of its unity but also its differences. Combining diversity and collaboration is a powerful tool, and being an EU citizen is definitely empowering. It was super important for me to reflect those values in my approach towards leadership, for instance, when hiring people for my team. Today, we have 9 people coming from Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Morocco and Romania. Having a good balance between genders and generations was also important for me.

Congratulations on your latest achievements! Could you give us some insight into what this recognition means?

It was an honor to close 2023 by receiving the award for the most Influential Woman Leader in Energy of Central and Eastern Europe. Starting 2024 by being recognised as a top EU leader to drive energy topics forward, kickstarted this year of elections with an extra motivational boost.

Over the past decade, my role as a global ambassador for gas infrastructure has allowed me to champion the power of diversity in COP28, all around Europe and as well in my country, within my involvement in the Council of Women in Business in Bulgaria’s activities. Those are truly humbling acknowledgments: may they inspire others. As Michelle Obama wisely said: ‘’The only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work hard for them.’’

Do you see any additional challenges for women in the energy field?

The energy sector is not as much of a ‘’men’s world’’ as when I started my career, but there is still quite some work to be tackled, with a disparity within countries. It’s good to see initiatives such as the ones by FSR arising to increase awareness, create supportive schemes… and shake the norms.

As a woman in the energy field, I’ve dealt with gender biases and stereotypes. Never underestimate the power of soft skills, knowledge, and network: those are the foundations of your shield. Throughout your career, you’ll often hear that you’re either too much or not enough. But at the end of the day, when you balance those criticisms, you realize it’s impossible to please everyone. I’m not saying ignore feedback; just filter it. What people say tells more about them than about you.

What advice do you have for young professionals looking to build a successful career in the energy industry?

Continuous learning and professional development are paramount to be one step ahead and stay relevant in the dynamic energy sector. My advice to young professionals is to embrace learning opportunities, broaden their horizons, and invest in both leadership skills and technical knowledge. There’s nothing better than the experience gained in the field: real challenges are the most instructive. Besides, I decided to create fully completed program for Female Leadership in the Energy sector and to support young female experts and those ladies, that feel it is the time to step-up in their career. Very soon, I will merge my personal experience, and strategies for visionary leadership, decision-making, and people management in such learning program that I trust to be helpful, inspiring and facilitate positive change and innovation within the industry.

Would you like to share a final message?

Championing diversity and inclusivity within the energy sector, both at a regional and international level remains one of the most fulfilling missions. New projects coming up in that regard very soon…! Stay tuned. My final message to aspiring female professionals in the energy sector is to believe in themselves, embrace opportunities, and strive to make a positive impact on the world around them.


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