Gina Orozco is Vice President of Gas Engineering and System Integrity for Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), Sempra Energy’s regulated California utilities.
Gina oversees gas engineering and system integrity and has the responsibility for engineering support, integrity management, operations training, asset management, research and development, and information systems. She was previously the Vice President of Gas Distribution, being responsible 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, resource management, local engineering, and planning.
Since joining SoCalGas as an engineering intern in 1990, Gina has held a variety of increasingly responsible roles in engineering, field services, system operations, environmental, international development, and labor relations. She has a master’s degree in Business Administration from Claremont Graduate University and a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the California State University, Los Angeles. She currently serves on the board of directors for Adventist Health White Memorial Medical Center Charitable Foundation and the California State Parks Foundation. Gina also is on the Drucker Industry Advisory Board and is an alumna of the Southern California Leadership Network and Leadership California.
Hi Gina. Can we start the interview by discussing how you became an engineer? When did you decide it was the career for you?
I have always had an affinity for the technical side of things. As a child, I would take radios apart and look at how they worked, and I was top of my class in math and science. Despite this, I did not think about being an engineer. This is because I did not know any women who were engineers. It was not until the summer between my junior and senior years of high school that I met a girl who said she was going to study engineering, and thought, “Wow, maybe I can do that.” Soon after, I attended a career fair at USC where I met a woman with an engineering degree for the very first time. She earned her engineering degree in the 1960s so I decided 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, Los Angeles.
Is it true you started at SoCalGas as an intern?
Yes, I started at SoCalGas 32 years ago as an intern. I remember mailing my resume to SoCalGas and then receiving a call for an interview. I was so thrilled when I was successful in getting the internship. I felt like I won the lottery! I loved the work and culture at SoCalGas because I felt like I was part of the team. As I got closer to graduating, I was offered a full-time job and thought, “This is where I’m going to stay.”
What advice do you give women who are thinking about a career in engineering?
I remind them that just because men have dominated the field, it does not mean the field 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’re looking for something very technical, or policy or marketing, there are opportunities to suit your interests and strengths.
You have been 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 made the decision to help women enter jobs that were at that time non-traditional. For example, when I started in operations, it was very unusual to see women in a manager or region director job. That has changed. There was also a big effort to promote women into executive positions. If you look back 15 or even 20 years ago, there were very few women who were executives. The company has done an excellent job in changing that.
What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
I would tell my 20-year-old self not to stress so much about the future, to stay focused on your goals and know that there will be great people along the way that will help you achieve your dreams.
What excites you about the future and your work at SoCalGas?
It is exciting to be at SoCalGas. We have ASPIRE 2045 and so many other important projects. ASPIRE 2045 provides clear goal posts for where we want to go as a company. We are proposing to build the Angeles Link – the nation’s largest green hydrogen energy infrastructure system. I have a team that is doing a lot of work around hydrogen blending and we are partnering with other industry organizations to make this idea operational. It is great to be part of such important work.