Gina Orozco is Vice President of Gas Engineering and System Integrity for Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG & E), the California regulated utility companies of Sempra Energy.
Gina oversees gas engineering and system integrity and is responsible for technical support, integrity management, operational training, resource management, research and development, and information systems. Previously she was Vice President of Gas Distribution, with responsibility for providing leadership to a team of approximately 2,300 employees at SoCalGas and SDG & E, as well as overseeing gas distribution operations, maintenance, construction, asset management, local engineering and planning.
Since joining SoCalGas as an engineering intern in 1990, Gina has held a number of increasingly responsible roles in engineering, field services, systems operations, environment, international development and labor relations. You have a master’s degree in business administration from Claremont Graduate University and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from California State University in Los Angeles. She currently serves on the board of directors of the Adventist Health White Memorial Medical Center Charitable Foundation and the California State Parks Foundation. Gina is also a member of the Drucker Industry Advisory Board and is a student of the Southern California Leadership Network and Leadership California.
Hi Gina. Can we start the interview by talking about how you became an engineer? When did you decide it was your career?
I’ve always had an affinity for the technical side of things. As a kid I took apart radios and watched how they worked, and was the best in my class in math and science. Despite this, I didn’t think of being an engineer. This is because I didn’t know any woman who was an engineer. It wasn’t until the summer between my freshman and senior year that I met a girl who said she was going to study engineering and she thought, “Wow, maybe I can do that.” Soon after, I attended a job fair at USC where I first met a woman with an engineering degree. She got her engineering degree in the 1960s, so I decided that if she could do it in the 1960s, then I could do it in the 1980s!
Where did you study engineering?
I studied electrical engineering at California State University in Los Angeles.
Is it true that you started at SoCalGas as an intern?
Yes, I started at SoCalGas 32 years ago as an intern. I remember sending my resume to SoCalGas and getting a call for an interview. I was so thrilled when I managed to get the internship. I felt like I had won the lottery! I loved the work and culture of SoCalGas because I felt part of the team. As I approached graduation, I was offered a full time job and thought, “This is where I will stay.”
What advice do you give to women who are considering a career in engineering?
I remind them that just because men dominated the pitch doesn’t mean the pitch isn’t ready for a new player. I talk about my experience and give examples of other women who have engineering careers. Engineering can take you in many different directions, whether you are looking for something very technical, or political or marketing, there are opportunities to suit your interests and strengths.
You have been working with SoCalGas for more than three decades. What makes the company special?
One of the many wonderful things about the company is our focus on diversity. Years ago, the company decided to help women get into jobs that weren’t traditional at the time. For example, when I started working, it was very unusual to see women in a managerial or regional manager job. This has changed. There has also been a great deal of effort to promote women to management positions. If you look back 15 or even 20 years ago, there were very few women who were executives. The company did a great job of changing it.
What advice would you give to yourself in 20 years?
I would tell myself in 20 years not to stress myself so much about the future, to stay focused on your goals and to know that there will be great people along the way who will help you make your dreams come true.
What excites you about the future and about your work at SoCalGas?
It is exciting to be at SoCalGas. we have ASPIRA 2045 and many other important projects. ASPIRE 2045 provides clear targets for where we want to go as a company. We aim to build the Angeles Connection – the largest green hydrogen energy infrastructure system in the nation. I have a team that is working a lot on hydrogen blending and we are collaborating with other organizations in the industry to make this idea operational. It feels good to be part of such an important job.