Nelly Molina Q&A: Driving Sustainable Value for Shareholders
Nelly Molina is vice president of investor relations for Sempra Energy. In this role, Molina is responsible for communicating with the investment community about Sempra Energy’s disciplined focus on delivering long-term sustainable value.
Before starting her current role last year, Molina previously served as chief financial officer for Infraestructura Energética Nova (IEnova), managing the company’s corporate finances, business planning, financial reporting, mergers and acquisitions, investor relations, risk management, and information technology, among other areas.
In 2020, Molina was recognized by Institutional Investor Magazine as the best overall chief financial officer among Latin America energy companies in the publication’s list of “Latin America’s Most Resilient Executives and Companies.”
Learn more in this Q&A with Nelly Molina:
You began your Sempra career with IEnova, Sempra’s subsidiary in Mexico. IEnova develops, builds and operates energy infrastructure in Mexico and is one of the largest private energy companies in the country. How did this experience prepare you for your current role?
I spent the past 10 years of my career with IEnova and joined the Sempra Mexico team prior to the initial public offering (IPO) of IEnova. Preparing for the IPO was one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had as a finance executive, working hand in hand with a great group of people from Sempra in the U.S. and in Mexico. I was involved in the small details without losing sight of the big picture.
This was a remarkable team effort and the transaction was completed quickly and efficiently. I also had the privilege to be around and guided by extraordinary leaders at Sempra and IEnova — leaders with a clear long-term vision of what we wanted to accomplish. The IPO process prepared IEnova to operate with agility and with strong governance since day one.
Managing the corporate finances at IEnova helped me to transition to this new opportunity as Sempra Energy’s vice president of investor relations, for which I am very grateful. I now have the challenge to develop new skills in a different country and learn more about the full Sempra businesses and the markets where we operate.
What advice would you give to women considering a career in finance?
It may not be as common to find females in the finance field, but this is changing as more women are preparing for these roles with a broader finance skillset. There’s plenty of room for women in finance!
- First of all, I would say that one should take every opportunity to learn. Acquire experience, deep knowledge and abilities across a broad range of topics.
- Second, continue with additional and post-graduate education. I completed my master’s degree after I got married, while I was working full time, pregnant and living in a new city. I know it requires a lot of energy, but the effort is worth it.
- Third, find the right mentors and people that can support you every step of the way.
- Finally, find a good balance between your professional and personal life. Having firm support from my family and my husband was fundamental to what I wanted to accomplish professionally.
It requires hard work, no doubt about it, but it is very rewarding when organizations can benefit from your experience, knowledge and openness to continue learning and growing.
What are some of the ways Sempra Energy provides long-term, sustainable value for shareholders?
We are very proud of our strong financial and operational performance in 2020 and the many accomplishments achieved throughout a difficult year worldwide. Our results are a credit to our strategic focus on creating sustainable value, on disciplined and consistent execution and on safety and operational excellence, and to our high-performance culture.
In every step we take, we are focused on creating sustainable value for our shareholders. In 2020, we increased our dividend for the 11th consecutive year and executed a $500 million share buyback program as part of our goal of returning value to shareholders.
Our focus on transmission and distribution investments, underpinned by our U.S. utilities, has delivered stable cash flows, improved earnings visibility, and strong organic growth as we continue to invest in safety, reliability and cleaner technologies.
Additionally, through our plan to simplify the ownership structure of Sempra LNG and IEnova under Sempra Infrastructure Partners, we believe there is an opportunity to create scale, unlock portfolio synergies and better position the business for growth. We expect the new business structure to create additional shareholder value over the long-term.
We are committed to expanding our position as a leader in the top-tier North American markets where we operate: California, Texas, Mexico and the LNG export market. We are focusing on innovation and sustainability as our operating companies enable the delivery of lower-carbon energy.
I believe we have a very compelling story for the near- and long-term as the owner of one of the largest energy networks in North America. We also are confident that our strategy of making critical new investments in transmission and distribution infrastructure will help accelerate the energy transition.
What are Sempra Energy’s priorities for 2021?
As our Chairman and CEO, Jeff Martin, said in our year-end earnings call, we are continuing to focus on executing health and safety programs to help mitigate COVID-19 risk for our employees.
We want to continue our strong track record of operating safely and reliably while serving our customers across our businesses.
One important milestone is completing the proposed Sempra Infrastructure Partners transactions, including selecting the right partner and the right value for our infrastructure business franchise.
Additionally, we are continuing to execute on our five-year, $32 billion capital plan and we continue to see robust opportunities to invest in our U.S. utilities and our infrastructure business. The capital plan is anchored by $29 billion dollars of investment in our U.S. utilities from 2021 to 2025, with a focus on safety and reliability. This represents over 90% of our total capital plan and is the largest utility capital program in our company’s history.
We are making investments to enhance our pipeline infrastructure and investing in innovative and cutting-edge technologies to advance our industry-leading wildfire mitigation program at San Diego Gas & Electric to help keep our communities safe.
Financially, we are focused on delivering strong financial results for the year and continuing to strengthen our balance sheet. In 2021 and forward we will continue to support the global energy transition and help advance a net zero future for the communities we serve.
This article contains statements that constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are based on assumptions with respect to the future, involve risks and uncertainties, and are not guarantees. Future results may differ materially from those expressed in any forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements represent our estimates and assumptions only as of the date of this press release. We assume no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statement as a result of new information, future events or other factors.
In this article, forward-looking statements can be identified by words such as "believes," "expects," "anticipates," "plans," "estimates," "projects," "forecasts," "should," "could," "would," "will," "confident," "may," "can," "potential," "possible," "proposed," "in process," "under construction," "in development," "target," "outlook," "maintain," "continue," or similar expressions, or when we discuss our guidance, priorities, strategy, goals, vision, mission, opportunities, projections, intentions or expectations.
Factors, among others, that could cause actual results and events to differ materially from those described in any forward-looking statements include risks and uncertainties relating to: California wildfires, including the risks that we may be found liable for damages regardless of fault and that we may not be able to recover costs from insurance, the wildfire fund established by California Assembly Bill 1054 or in rates from customers; decisions, investigations, regulations, issuances or revocations of permits and other authorizations, renewals of franchises, and other actions by (i) the Comisión Federal de Electricidad, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), U.S. Department of Energy, Public Utility Commission of Texas, and other regulatory and governmental bodies and (ii) states, counties, cities and other jurisdictions in the U.S., Mexico and other countries in which we do business; the success of business development efforts, construction projects and major acquisitions and divestitures, including risks in (i) the ability to make a final investment decision, (ii) completing construction projects or other transactions on schedule and budget, (iii) the ability to realize anticipated benefits from any of these efforts if completed, and (iv) obtaining the consent of partners or other third parties; the resolution of civil and criminal litigation, regulatory inquiries, investigations and proceedings, and arbitrations, including, among others, those related to the natural gas leak at Southern California Gas Company's (SoCalGas) Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility; the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our capital projects, regulatory approval processes, supply chain, liquidity and execution of operations; actions by credit rating agencies to downgrade our credit ratings or to place those ratings on negative outlook and our ability to borrow on favorable terms and meet our substantial debt service obligations; moves to reduce or eliminate reliance on natural gas and the impact of volatility of oil prices on our businesses and development projects; weather, natural disasters, pandemics, accidents, equipment failures, explosions, acts of terrorism, computer system outages and other events that disrupt our operations, damage our facilities and systems, cause the release of harmful materials, cause fires and subject us to liability for property damage or personal injuries, fines and penalties, some of which may not be covered by insurance (including costs in excess of applicable policy limits), may be disputed by insurers or may otherwise not be recoverable through regulatory mechanisms or may impact our ability to obtain satisfactory levels of affordable insurance; the availability of electric power and natural gas and natural gas storage capacity, including disruptions caused by failures in the transmission grid, limitations on the withdrawal of natural gas from storage facilities, and equipment failures; cybersecurity threats to the energy grid, storage and pipeline infrastructure, the information and systems used to operate our businesses, and the confidentiality of our proprietary information and the personal information of our customers and employees; expropriation of assets, failure of foreign governments and state-owned entities to honor their contracts, and property disputes; the impact at San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) on competitive customer rates and reliability due to the growth in distributed and local power generation, including from departing retail load resulting from customers transferring to Direct Access and Community Choice Aggregation, and the risk of nonrecovery for stranded assets and contractual obligations; Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC's (Oncor) ability to eliminate or reduce its quarterly dividends due to regulatory and governance requirements and commitments, including by actions of Oncor's independent directors or a minority member director; volatility in foreign currency exchange and interest and inflation rates and commodity prices and our ability to effectively hedge these risks; changes in tax and trade policies, laws and regulations, including tariffs and revisions to international trade agreements that may increase our costs, reduce our competitiveness, or impair our ability to resolve trade disputes; and other uncertainties, some of which may be difficult to predict and are beyond our control.
These risks and uncertainties are further discussed in the reports that Sempra Energy has filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). These reports are available through the EDGAR system free-of-charge on the SEC's website, www.sec.gov, and on the company's website, www.sempra.com. Investors should not rely unduly on any forward-looking statements.
Sempra North American Infrastructure, Sempra LNG, Sempra Mexico, Sempra Texas Utilities, Oncor and Infraestructura Energética Nova, S.A.B. de C.V. (IEnova) are not the same companies as the California utilities, SDG&E or SoCalGas, and Sempra North American Infrastructure, Sempra LNG, Sempra Mexico, Sempra Texas Utilities, Oncor and IEnova are not regulated by the CPUC.