Meet Gwenaëlle Huet, CEO of the France Renewables BU
Gwenaëlle’s path to alternative energy sources was through hard sciences. She is an iron fist in a velvet glove. After climbing up the ranks of the great ministerial offices, she took over the helm of Engie’s Renewable activities in France.
As an engineer with the Corps of Bridges and Roads who holds a degree from the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, an agrégation in Chemical physics and a Masters in Molecular Chemistry and Engineering from the Ecole Polytechnique, Gwenaëlle knew the challenges of energy and their solutions like the back of her hand when she began her career with the French government. At the General Secretariat for European Affairs (serving the Prime Minister), she was responsible for inter-ministerial coordination on issues related to energy, industry and competitiveness. She then joined various ministerial offices as an advisor: Firstly, the Secretary of State for European Affairs, then the Minister of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and Territorial Development.
Only a socially-responsible company, on a global scale and at the forefront of energy transition could offer this formidable woman an environment that matched her expertise. This would be Engie, which she joined in 2010 as Director of European Affairs. Her role then was as an advisor to the CEO. The 1 January 2016 was a very special day for Gwenaëlle. She was appointed General Manager of the France Renewable Business Unit and gave birth to her twins. She was in charge of a double buggy and the leadership of seven subsidiaries. She coordinated 2,300 employees and managed a portfolio of assets representing 5,500 MW of installed capacity, generating a turnover of about €900 million a year. Upon taking up this strategic position for the Group, which has a leading position in renewable energy in Europe, Gwenaëlle started drawing up its roadmap: "My aim was to create momentum around our local eco-systems, to increase the potential of a territory’s resources and create low carbon solutions. Listening to our eco-system, thinking up ever more innovative solutions and developing a range of offers focused on making production and consumption greener are all strategic priorities that we push with our local stakeholders.”
A philharmonic touch
A violinist since she was four years old, Gwenaëlle has a sense of rhythm and measure. She knows how to express her intentions with accuracy and precision. "My role requires me to convey a vision and mark out a strategic direction". Both a composer and a conductor, she writes the score and conducts the orchestra. Her skills in decision-making, mobilisation and training play an essential role. Far from being practice runs, her days are devoted to defining new solutions, and challenging old methods. "Every day is different, with a lot of surprises, new actions for making progress and helping to move Engie's business forward: meeting the teams, creating a group around a key strategic focus, developing new projects, working on new business models". Gwenaëlle is full of enthusiasm. She wants to create a real buzz around her projects. "By capitalising on the viewpoints and experiences of every person, 1 + 1 = not 2, but 3”.
With this kind of mindset, nothing is inaccessible."There is always a solution to everything!”
Her optimism enables her to take up the biggest of challenges. Starting with what she believes to be the most important: access to energy for all.