Enrique Alba: Mexico has everything to benefit from the energy transition | XXVIII Ibero-American Summit
For Enrique Alba (Cartagena, Murcia, 53), CEO of Iberdrola in Mexico, it was clear that if the energy company had to implement social projects, it had to do so in Oaxaca. There, the Spanish company has four wind farms, its largest project in Mexico. Its directors also pointed out that part of the lag in education in the southeast of the country is experienced in that region. In 2019, the company launched Impulso STEM, an education and scholarship program to stimulate the preparation of young people in science, technology, engineering, and math, or so-called STEM careers.
ALBA received on Friday in Santo Domingo – within the business meeting of the Ibero-American Summit – the Gold Award for best practices in terms of sustainable development goals granted by the Ibero-American Foundation for Quality Management (Fundibeg) for the implementation of this program in Oaxaca. The organization confirmed that the award was given to the company for its efforts in bridging the gender gap.
“We saw that there was a very significant lag in Oaxaca in the so-called STEM jobs, and then another thing was added that encouraged us to implement the project, which is that in that case only 10% of the students in STEM jobs are women engineers, as the project allowed us, in addition to training Talented young people from Oaxaca, attacking the issue of inclusion, the inclusion of women in university, the possibilities of well-paying jobs and breaking the gender gap”, Alba says about the project in an interview with EL PAÍS.
On the other hand, the Impulso STEM Program has provided scholarships to 55 young people to study engineering-related undergraduate degrees. Half of them are given to women. Many scholarship students go to the Technological University of the Central Valleys of Oaxaca to complete their studies in the same region. Iberdrola offers them apprenticeships at its facilities in the region and some of them start their careers there. “It is a sowing to generate Mexican engineers and also Mexican women engineers, so that they can join the company. That is why I say it is a very complete project of education, quality, education and the future, ”adds Alba.
In addition to scholarships, the company promotes renewable energy courses and workshops at secondary education institutions in the region. Alba asserts that in this way young people from Oaxaca can receive adequate professional guidance on the panorama that a STEM career can offer them in the future. Together with the UNU Institute for Renewable Energies, Iberdrola has already mentored 12,000 students in the Isthmus of Oaxaca region.
The director stresses that one of the goals of the program is to train professionals who have career opportunities and perspectives in their country. “The workforce at the four wind farms we have in Oaxaca is 100% Oaxacan. We want them to train there and be able to work in their state. We have a philosophy that the talent stays there,” he notes.
Alba asserts that although the uses and customs of the region have limited women’s participation in certain industries, Impulso STEM also serves to break taboos that some societies maintain about the role of women. The company represents 21% of its workforce. “It’s also trying to empower, say ‘yes you can’, don’t put restrictions on yourselves and don’t let them put them on you because of cultural, family or historical issues,” he adds.
Iberdrola has been operating in Mexico for more than 20 years and is present in 15 of the 32 states generating electricity through renewable energy sources. Alba says the country’s future in the face of the energy transition looks promising. “Mexico has it both at the solar level, where 80% of the republic is optimal for photovoltaic development, and at the wind level, where there are vast regions like the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Puebla, Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Baja California, with a lot of wind. In other words, Mexico has Everything to take advantage of the energy paradigm transition that’s happening around the world and to be a pioneer,” he explains.