Lisa Larroque Alexander is the Chief Sustainability Officer and Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Sempra, where she is responsible for sustainable value creation, corporate social responsibility, and external affairs. Sempra is a leader in sustainability, diversity, and inclusion and is the only North American utility holding company included in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index.
She’s also on the board of directors for the United States Chamber of Commerce and Equality California and is the President of the Sempra Foundation. And served on the boards of several nonprofit organizations focused on social and environmental issues. Before joining Sempra, Lisa was a partner at a management consulting firm where she advised leading electric utilities and Fortune 500 companies in the entertainment, health care, and manufacturing sectors.
Take us through a typical workday. What are a few of your ongoing responsibilities?
My role at Sempra includes oversight of our sustainability, corporate citizenship, government affairs, and communications teams, which gives me an opportunity to work with many different groups across the company. My teams work to keep our stakeholders informed of the company’s activities and in turn, listen for ways that Sempra can be increasingly responsive to stakeholders’ changing needs. It’s a rewarding job that keeps me deeply engaged in all areas of our business, allowing me to share insights about our commitments to and innovation around safety, the environment, ethical governance, diversity and how our employees are serving the communities where we live and work.
There is an increased urgency to help connect millions of people around the world to more secure and reliable energy while at the same time advancing technology and innovation for energy to become cleaner and more affordable over time. It’s a complex issue, but the ultimate goal is an energy system that serves everyone with environmental, economic and social benefits, built with an unrelenting focus on safety and reliability. Our growth platforms — Sempra California, Sempra Texas and Sempra Infrastructure — are strategically positioned to deliver on these opportunities because of their significant size and scale in key markets, financial strength and their continued network expansion. I love that my job allows me to collaborate with global stakeholders and our highly talented team members, tapping into their deep expertise and helping align our portfolio with long-term macroeconomic, market and policy trends, mitigating the risks of our business and identifying new opportunities and value streams through investments in infrastructure.
No two days are the same because there’s a lot of ground to cover, but at the end of the day, my goal is to empower our teams to support our vision—delivering energy with purpose. At Sempra, that means helping to diversify and modernize North America’s energy networks to enhance energy security and advance a sustainable low-carbon future.
What are some of the biggest challenges your company/organization will be tackling in 2023 and beyond?
Sempra is helping advance the global energy transition by investing in modern energy networks to serve some of the world’s largest markets, including California, Texas, Mexico and global natural gas markets. In 2023, we will continue our efforts with the goal of helping to deliver improved energy security, economic growth and a lower-carbon society.
As an infrastructure company delivering energy around the world, we are investing in three key capabilities: decarbonization, diversification and digitalization – which we refer to as the 3Ds – to help us reach our goals and help others do the same. We believe diverse sources of energy will continue to be important to help achieve the bold climate goals embraced around the world.
Decarbonization means reducing the carbon content of energy and is central to decarbonizing the industrial, transportation and power generation sectors. One of our biggest challenges as society will be to help these hard-to-abate customers transition to a lower carbon/zero carbon energy source.
Diversification focuses on bringing new lower- to- zero-carbon fuel choices to markets and is a central part of the global solution, coupled with expansion of distributed networks and storage to improve resiliency.
And by digitalizing our energy networks with artificial intelligence, machine learning, sensors, drones and other technologies, we aim to improve operational efficiency, safety and service to turn on the integration of real-time information and cutting-edge analytics, benefiting network operators and consumers.
How can a company develop its ESG Strategy to optimize organizational resilience?
As we’ve witnessed in previous years, change and unforeseen circumstances are inevitable in the world we live in. However, a strong sustainability strategy can generate a level of resilience that facilitates longevity and success—even during the toughest of times.
It is important to look at a company’s long-term priorities and its ability to thrive amid changing macroeconomic and policy trends, while simultaneously mitigating business risks and capturing new opportunities. At Sempra, sustainability is at the center of our business strategy and underpins our focus on delivering shareholder value. This commitment to do the right thing has allowed us to capture new business streams and deliver value for our shareholders. We continually examine different ways to cultivate sustainable business practices, including data analytics, tools and processes not only to further our sustainability commitments, but also enhance our business outcomes. In doing so, we aim to enhance our operational activities, as well as improve reporting on the issues important to our stakeholders and be more agile in the face of constant disruption.
It’s also important to have a diverse community of thought leadership, where consistent and regular communication, assessment and feedback from our peers and stakeholders can help us to hear different perspectives, set higher expectations and recalibrate our own standards, especially during challenging times.
What was a successful project or implementation you worked on at your company that you can share?
Bringing a sustainability strategy to life requires a concerted and coordinated effort across all areas of business internally – including strategy, finance, engineering, public affairs, safety, human resources, supply chain and safety teams – and collaboration with external stakeholders including shareholders, academia, government, financial markets and more. I’m especially proud of the partnerships we’ve built throughout the company, and within the communities we serve, and the level of stakeholder engagement we continue to experience.
One example of this multistakeholder view coming to life is our work with the World Economic Forum. Through the Forum, I’ve connected with peers across the globe to advance future energy systems for the benefit of all stakeholders. In 2021, we developed a System Value Framework that helps government, business and investors to consider a holistic view of the benefits of the energy transition, including metrics like job creation, alongside emissions reduction and cost. We’re now in the process of developing a whitepaper on the integrated energy system of the future – one built with an energy network that delivers clean electrons or clean molecules supported by storage and cleaner fuels such as renewable natural gas and hydrogen.
Our operating companies, which include San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E), Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas), Sempra Infrastructure Partners and Oncor Electric Delivery Company, have made investments in technology and innovation that have yielded tremendous results.
Through the Forum, we get to share our practices to help other companies and developing regions of the world mirror the exciting work we’re doing in California, Texas and Mexico. Likewise, we get inspired by the insights of others and continually improve our sustainability strategies to stay at the forefront of our industry.
What market trends do you expect to see in the next few years? What challenges will the industry face, and what technologies or organizational changes will overcome them?
One of the greatest challenges of our lifetime is the need to address global emissions, while meeting the rising demand for energy and furthering economic growth and prosperity, especially in developing countries. Regulatory oversight will also be challenging as companies look to navigate the varied global, federal, state and local standards and regulations that are being proposed and will be implemented over time.
To achieve net zero by 2050, the global community will need to support energy diversification in all regions, and advanced economies will need to continue to lead and scale decarbonization Investments – while also minding resilience for a just transition.
In closing, I would offer that whether it’s the consumer or commercial sector, Sempra, with its talented workforce, is well-positioned to invest in safe and resilient energy infrastructure to help enable the well-being of the nearly 40 million consumers and thousands of businesses that we have the privilege of serving every day.
Connect with Lisa and the rest of her team at Sempra
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