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GWNET brings you the 1st instalment of the “Meet the Women in Energy Empowerment” series which celebrates the work and achievements of the women who are part of the Women in Energy Empowerment Mentoring Programme. This programme is made up of 30 mentee-mentor tandems, with mentees from Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine. Meet mentee, Natalia Kharitonova, a Manager at the Department of Trade Marketing and Special Projects at Gazpromneft-Lubricants, LTD (subsidiary of Gazprom Neft) in Russia.

1) Tell us a little about yourself. What do you love most about what you do?

I have a solid technical education in mathematics, computer science and computer engineering. I have recently successfully completed an MBA at the PWC Academy under the management practice program. Next, I plan to specialize in corporate governance including the Practice of the Board of Directors and digital transformation.

I have successful experience working with leading oil companies, such as Rosneft, TNK, YUKOS, LUKOIL, suppliers of raw materials, and equipment for the oil and gas industry. For the last 9 years, I worked in the Marketing and Strategic Development Division and the Production division of the Gazprom Neft subsidiary.

Over the past three years, I have been deeply immersed in the issues of Global Energy: decarbonization, decentralization, sustainable development goals, alternative types of energy, hydrogen, CCUS (Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage), Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, and CBAM (Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism). Between 2019 and 2021, I studied at the “Energy Center of the Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO” in these areas.

I am a member of the Association of Professionals of the fuel and energy complex “Women in Energy”. Most of all, in my work I like to solve difficult, complex tasks, explore and implement new business directions, improve the efficiency of existing business processes, inspire people, and build strong teams to solve ambitious tasks.


2) What were your goals when you started working in the energy sector? What are your goals today?

When I started working in the energy sector, I wanted to become a high-level expert in one of the departments of light petroleum products and work in a famous, technological, vertically integrated oil and gas company.

Today I want to become a leader in the field of sustainable energy, join the Board of Directors or the Advisory Board of 1 – 3 companies and teach in 2 – 3 business schools in the field of SDGs, ESG, decarbonization, and decentralization.

I also want to promote the ideas of ESG, SDGs, decarbonization, decentralization, and alternative energy sources and build a mutually beneficial dialogue on CBAM. I am driven by the desire to make companies not only profitable but also energy sustainable.

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3) What are the opportunities for sustainable energy in your country?

Russia has excellent starting opportunities for the development of sustainable energy: the largest wind and solar power technical potential in the world, the absorbing capacity of forests, the relatively low carbon intensity of electricity mix (with a high proportion of natural gas, nuclear and hydropower), a scientific base and talented specialists.

In the near future, the Cabinet of Ministers of the Government of the Russian Federation will prepare a roadmap for the period up to 2050 in order to reduce Russia’s carbon intensity and ensure the implementation of “major innovative projects of national importance”. These projects include the development and implementation of new approaches in the areas of renewable energy, nuclear power generation, hydrogen energy, and energy storage, as well as establishing a national system for precise monitoring and utilization of climate-active gases.

4) What challenges have you faced in the sector? Can you tell us how you overcame (or are overcoming) this challenge(s)?

Currently, as part of the specialization in the MBA program at the PWC Academy, I am researching the technological solutions of Siemens Energy AG for decarbonization in the energy sector, taking into account the increasing global demand for energy. I implement the acquired knowledge through working with Russian companies, International companies, and Ambassadors of African governments.

In this work, I was faced with a lack of deep knowledge and sincere interest in the field of decarbonization, ESG, and SDGs, including the management of many companies.

When consulting the management of companies in the field of strategic management, I talk about the risks and opportunities for the company in the field of decarbonization, decentralization, CBAM, ESG, and SDGs. For example, for a Russian company with four marketplaces and its own production, I proposed to introduce a calculator for calculating the carbon footprint of the company’s products. For an international automobile company, I have prepared recommendations for a technological partnership in the field of modern mobility based on the Carbon Free Zone.

I write articles on these topics on LinkedIn and share my knowledge at public events. I am in search of a learning platform where I could periodically give a lecture on this topic.

Woman stands in front of factory plant
5) Where would you like to be in 5 years and how can this mentoring programme support you?
  1. Member of the Board of Directors, Advisory board of 3 companies.
  2. Top manager in an International Energy Company. VP for Strategy and Innovation.
  3. Teacher at a business school/university in the field of Energy, SDGs, ESG, decarbonization, and decentralization, 2-3 schools (in Russia, Europe, Japan or China).
  4. Mentor for 1 to 2 people.
  5. Advisory business in the field of strategic management in the energy sector.
  6. Carrying out preparatory work for the creation of my company. Purpose: distributor of licensed products in the energy sector, services for the creation of integrated automation systems, digital transformation, technological preparation of production, document management, energy efficiency improvement.
  7. Member of a Charitable Foundation.

As part of this mentoring programme, I plan to develop a roadmap for 5 years with key points, resources and deadlines. I also aim to position myself as an independent director, VP of strategy and innovation, and the future owner of the company. Lastly, I aim to find a role model, choose a business school/university for teaching, and make a programme for teaching and start collecting material.


6) What advice would you give to women hoping to join the sustainable energy sector?

I want to quote the words of Ralph Lauren:

“Love what you do, be passionate, work hard, work together, take risks, stay real, never compromise and aspire to the best.”

It is impossible not to fall in love with the energy sector. It has many different directions, complex technological solutions, interesting and ambitious tasks. This sector is currently undergoing transformation and global changes which opens up many opportunities for you to realize your talents!


Read more about GWNET’s mentoring programmes here


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