Lifetime of Achievement: Ignacio Galán

Ignacio Galán
Leading the Spanish utility since 2006, Executive Chairman Ignacio Galán has been applauded as the engineer behind Iberdrola’s rejuvenation

Energy and utilities companies make up some of the most valuable and profitable in the world, with Saudi Aramco, ExxonMobil, Shell and PetroChina among the largest based on sales, profit, assets and market value, according to Forbes.

Among its ranks is Iberdrola, the Spanish electric and utilities business that has seen a transformation like no other. And that transformation has taken shape under the leadership of its Executive Chairman Ignacio Galán.

Often applauded as the engineer behind Iberdrola’s rejuvenation, Ignacio has earned a reputation for revolutionising Iberdrola from what was widely regarded as a second-tier Spanish company to a global ‘major new utility’, among the world’s largest.

Ignacio Galán: Iberdrola’s transformation engineer

Ignacio joined Iberdrola as EVP and CEO in 2001, taking over leadership as Executive Chairman five years later. With him he brought a rich career spanning the energy landscape, starting with Sociedad Española del Acumulador Tudor from the early 70s before breaking away to directing Industria de Turbopropulsores (ITP) from its inception in 1990.

The remainder of the 90s saw Ignacio head up Eurojet and latterly moving into telecommunications with Airtel Móvi, now Vodafone España, before joining Iberdrola.

Under Ignacio’s leadership, Iberdrola has metamorphosed into a firm built around electrification, environmental protection and social responsibility.

“We are very proud of what we have been building at Iberdrola over the past two decades, in line with our century-long history,” he says. “We want to continue driving the transition towards an energy system based on renewable energy, grids and storage to build a more sustainable, fair, fraternal, supportive and prosperous society and a more habitable planet for new generations.”

Catapulting Iberdrola to new heights has come as a result of Ignacio’s laser-focus on and commitment to international expansion and electrification. This is one of the instigators behind Iberdrola’s investment of more than €140bn (US$151.7bn) in renewable energies, smart grids and energy storage.

A new era for Iberdrola

Ignacio’s leadership has ushered in a new era for Iberdrola, which historically has built its reputation as a domestic company with coal, hydroelectric and oil-fired plants. But, thanks to its Executive Chairman, it is now among the leaders in clean energy and an owner of electricity grids with operations in Brazil, Mexico, the UK and the US. Its operations provide energy for more than 100 million people, with the company striving to continue to do this in the most environmentally-conscious way possible.

In pursuit of this, this year Iberdrola announced it will invest €41bn (US$44.4bn) and hire 10,000 people by 2026 to accelerate its electrification efforts.

“The electrification of energy is unstoppable and will expand exponentially in the years ahead, supporting decarbonisation, boosting energy security and reducing the volatility caused by fossil fuels,” Ignacio declares. “Our strategic pillars focus on networks, geographical diversification and a balanced energy and customers mix. This plan will allow us to grow our asset base, grow our profitability and strengthen our finances, as well as increasing dividends and driving jobs and skills and economic growth.”

Iberdrola’s strategy will focus on delivering an enhanced grid to support security of supply — which now makes up almost two thirds of its total investment — as well as a strong expansion of renewables capacity which is driven by the substitution of fossil technologies and additional demand.

This is just one example of how Ignacio’s accomplishments, vision and contributions to Iberdrola — and thus, the energy sector — position him one of the industry’s most highly influential and impactful figures.

Now in his 70s, the Spanish businessman continues to be a pioneer of the energy revolution. This was something he advocated for decades ago, and is proud to publicly share that he stuck by, even when other industry voices were not on side.

Speaking in 2020, Ignacio shares: “When nobody believed that electricity could be produced with clean sources and everybody was thinking coal would remain for centuries… and oil and gas were absolutely needed, we were the only one saying we can generate and produce electricity with clean sources.”

It’s safe to say that Ignacio, throughout his career and especially at Iberdrola, has profoundly changed the profile of companies under his management, and continues to do so with a positive outlook to the future at the heart.


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