Czarnikow’s move into renewable energy: meet Gabriela
April 23, 2021

Czarnikow’s energy offering is fresh and tailored to our clients’ needs. CZ Energy, our ethanol and electricity joint venture in Brazil, harnesses our knowledge of and longstanding presence in the Brazilian sugarcane industry. We caught up with our colleague who has been heading up the business, Gabriela Andri Yoshida, to find out more about the industry and what her role involves.

Gabriela, you joined Czarnikow in 2020. How did you find joining the team in such an interesting year?  

I am sure 2020 was an odd year for everyone and the professional path that I chose was no exception. I became part of Czarnikow at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when everything was surrounded with uncertainty. Of course, the setup of the business was full of challenges, but variables such as management support, team spirit and hard work contributed to overcoming all of them. It was the best experience I have ever had professionally. I am very happy to be part of this beautiful journey. 

What is your educational background 

I got my bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Universidade Federal do Paraná. I chose this major because I have been always interested in the systems that support human activities, for example, electric power, oil, gas, and communications. I also have a Specialization Certificate in Metallurgical Engineering. 

What is your professional background?  

One interesting thing about my life in the energy business is that, somehow, it started a long time ago when I was a kid. My father used to have a gas station business and during my free time I remember helping him attend to his customers (it was more fun than work, but I had to mention that). The second unconventional experience I have that helped me to better understand the multi-cultural environment that shape business today, was working at Disney World for one year. There I had contact with several people from around the world (just like at Czarnikow!).  

The second part of my professional background was with infra-structure companies such as Construction (MRV), Logistics (ALL-Rumo), Metallurgical (Gerdau) and energy trading (Capitale). All of these experiences led me to making the connection with Czarnikow’s Brazil team in February 2020.  

Have you always been interested in working in the commodities sector?

Yes. As soon as I graduated from college, I went to work in the steel industry, where I had more exposure to the energy sector and contact with other kinds of commodities, which ended up becoming my great professional passion. 

What attracted you to your role at Czarnikow? 

The opportunity to create a business from scratch. It is amazing to see ideas on paper realised into a solid and profitable venture.  Czarnikow’s respectability and the confidence in our company, plus our existing portfolio of consumers and energy generators, makes us even more sure of success in this new business. 

Do you see any new opportunities for Czarnikow arising from these unique times? 

Yes, Czarnikow’s energy desk is based on what we call ‘structured energy products’ which are tailor-made, systematic solutions for our clients, especially consumers and generators. These clients have gone through a “roller coaster” in every aspect this past year. Therefore, we provide solutions that are totally customised and adapted to their needs, maximizing the profitability in energy, or reducing their costs with this commodity. 

What would you say is the number one misconception about renewable energy? 

The belief that renewable energy is only about the environmental aspect. Today we know that the economic aspect of these resources is very relevant in this profitable and growing market. 

What aspect of your role at work do you find the most enjoyable? 

Energy is one of the only commodities that attracts all sorts of clients – they can be anyone.  On the consumption side, we can go from the food industry to hospitals and even final consumers. On the generation side, we can go from primary generators to those who have energy as a by-product of their usual process, such as biomass mills. This hodgepodge of counterparties makes you learn a lot everyday and is the most interesting and enjoyable part of my job. 

What aspect of your role at work do you find the most challenging? 

The energy market is constantly transforming both in technology and in regulation. Having all the changes on my radar can be very challenging. 

If you could name one key skillset required for your role, what would it be?  

Communication or “commercial skills” are vital for dealing with distinct counterparties and managing a team composed of diverse professionals. 

What advice would you give to someone new to the industry? 

 It is impossible to do a good job individually, join forces with good people to make it possible.  

Finally, how do you see the industry evolving over the next five years?  

I see the industry growing stronger through mergers & acquisitions, digitalization, innovation, and environmental initiatives. But I also see the number of companies focusing their efforts to be sustainable growing as well. In my opinion this is the best characteristic of forward-facing industries, because it is very important to be concerned not only with the environment but also with people – the society. 

Image credit: Fernando Reyes