At Elia, men and women are equal

In 2014, Elia became the first Bel20 company to have women account for 35% of its Board of Directors. The system operator is successfully managing to spread this trend throughout the company. These three examples show that even in a technical environment, women hold their own.

Barbara Verhaegen (46)
Head of Internal Communications and Culture

"I am a trained business engineer and have always been passionate about communication. After spending many years working in the creative environment of a communications agency, I joined Elia as a spokesperson in 2013, ultimately switching from external and project communications to internal communications. I also currently lead the Make a Difference (MAD) cultural change programme."

How does Elia seek to promote a strong corporate culture?

"By encouraging six behaviours, including feedback, simplification and impact, among our employees through inspiration sessions, workshops and team discussions. In doing so we hope to incorporate these behaviours into Elia's strong DNA. We also have a network of 'MAD Champions', programme ambassadors who help us devise initiatives tailored to Elia's various teams. Fostering a culture takes time, but it is key to realising our strategy!"

Anneleen Van Melkebeek (35)
Commissioning Manager

"I'm responsible for a number of teams of technicians tasked with guaranteeing the safety of the high-voltage grid, and I also manage infrastructure projects on the ground. Over the 12 years I've been working for Elia, I've had plenty of opportunities to take advantage of internal mobility. For example, I kicked off my career through the starter programme before taking on the role of business analyst. I then started working on infrastructure projects as a project leader, team leader and programme manager, before landing my current role."

As a woman, have you ever experienced difficulties in the technical world?

"As a student of mathematics, science and, later on, engineering, I was surrounded by men anyway. (laughs) Everyone is equal at Elia: it goes without saying that everyone is treated the same way but unfortunately it's still mainly men who are interested in technical training."

Elsa Celens (49)
Controlling Programme Manager

"Personally, being a woman has never caused any difficulties for me at work. At Elia, it doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman so long as you do your job well."

Have things changed a lot?

"Oh yes. (laughs) When I started here over 20 years ago, I was the only woman in my department. Women were mainly found in admin roles while project-related jobs were done almost exclusively by men. Happily this is no longer the case, and there are also a lot of women in technical roles at Elia."

Why should young women opt for Elia?

"Well, first of all I think that Elia has a lot to offer in terms of diverse career opportunities. You're allowed to grow and there's also a focus on training. You also get to work in an exciting environment that has a direct impact on society."

Metro, 2020