- Since 2019, she is the company's only female CEO and has led great projects including the incorporation of hundreds of electric buses in the country’s public transportation system, an e-mobility project driven by Enel X, Metbus and BYD Chile, within the framework of a public-private alliance alongside the Ministry of Transport.
Karla Zapata, CEO of Enel X Chile, received the “2020 Executive Businesswomen Award” an award given by Revista Capital and Diario Financiero since 2010 that recognizes the talent and professionalism of women with business leadership positions.
Karla Zapata is married to Alexander and has two children: Alejandra (10) and Andrés (8). She has lived in Chile for 14 years. She is Peruvian and holds a degree in Industrial Civil and Systems Engineering, and is currently head of Enel X Chile, the Enel Group's business line that covers services and solutions such as electric mobility, distributed generation, smart lighting, urban infrastructure, efficient heating, among others.
She has been part of the Enel Group for the past 24 years, and throughout her career has lived in several Latin American countries such as Peru, Colombia, Brazil, and Chile, where she has held many roles related to commercial activities and clients. In the last 9 years, she has turned her career to the generation and development of new businesses and the sale of energy products and services related to new uses of energy, capturing market opportunities associated with innovation, electrification, technological changes, and digitization, among others.
Since 2019, she is the company's only female CEO and has led great projects including the incorporation of hundreds of electric buses in the country’s public transportation system, an e-mobility project driven by Enel X, Metbus and BYD Chile, within the framework of a public-private alliance alongside the Ministry of Transport.
You lived and worked in several Latin American countries before coming to Chile. How was your experience?
Living and meeting different people and colleagues in different countries have been a highly enriching experience. Knowing different cultures and business realities have helped me a lot both for my personal and work life. I started working in Peru a country where the participation of men in the energy sector and within the company was practically 100% I was a freak. Then I moved to Colombia at the age of 25, where I was pleasantly surprised by the number of women and the openness to female insertion in all areas. In Brazil, women participate mostly at mid-level positions, and in Chile, things have changed a lot over time, there are gradually more women occupying leadership roles.
What do you think companies need to do to increase the number of women in higher positions?
The first thing you need is the conviction of all the leaders of a company, and then I think women have to believe that we are worth it. We need to take some risks when leaving our comfort zone and give ourselves the chance to apply to certain positions, without the mindset that those positions are only for men.
How is the female participation in electric companies, considering that the area has always been linked to “male” jobs?
I think the hardest part of my career has been to position myself as a woman in a historically male company. Men have traditionally led the energy sector and I think that has been one of the hard parts, but being present with a lot of energy, my curiosity to know and participate in many areas and projects of the Group, so much they motivated me to leave my own country, adding to the fact of having very powerful teams integrating more women, are part of the key factors to advance in this sector.
For me, teamwork is incredibly important, and I think men and women complement each other in the workplace. The mix of technical skills and soft skills is key, but it is also fundamental to build trust, and not only with the team but also with your superiors and with your peers, that is essential to achieve excellence and be chosen to lead teams.
How do you feel about received this award that has singled you out among other women that hold business leadership positions?
It is really an honor for me to receive this award. It fills me with a lot of pride and personal satisfaction because I know everything that is behind it: my family, my husband and my two children, who have always been my pillar and main support, and my work family, above all, the great team that has accompanied me for some time now. They all have been fundamental for this achievement since behind this there is a lot of work, passion, and commitment.
I want to add that while this is a personal award, it is also recognition for an entire organization and the strategy of the company I have been a part of for the past 24 years.