December 5, 2016

Drucker Alumna First Latina Executive of SoCalGas

Portrait of Gina Orozco-Mejia
Gina Orozco-Mejia (Photo courtesy of SoCalGas)

Drucker alumna honored as “corporate pillar”

One was an engineer. Another was a parent. Both were Gina Orozco-Mejia’s role models—and both were women.

Together, they had a strong influence on the Drucker alumna (EMBA, 2013). Orozco-Mejia—who moved to Southern California from Mexico as a teenager—was recently honored for her dedication to diversity as a Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) executive and for being one of the highest-ranking Latinas at a Fortune 500 company.

“Embracing a diverse workforce is good business,” she said. “For instance, at SoCalGas we honor diversity because we recognize that we all learn from one another and we work best as a team. Each one of us brings various life and work experiences, and that tapestry enriches the way SoCalGas conducts business.”

The California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce honored Orozco-Mejia during its 37th annual statewide convention held in Riverside Sept. 22. The organization represents the interests of more than 800,000 Hispanic-owned businesses throughout California.

She was also recognized for being named vice president of gas operations for the utility—she is the first Latina to be appointed to an executive position in the nearly 150-year history of SoCalGas. Orozco-Mejia received the Latina Corporate Pillar Award in recognition of her efforts to champion suppliers owned by women, minorities, and veterans disabled in the line of duty.

Last year, $665 million—or 44.7 percent of the company’s total procurement—of SoCalGas’ contract spending went to woman-, minority-, and disabled-veteran-owned business enterprises, Orozco-Mejia said.

“Supplier diversity is good for our customers, our partners and the communities we serve,” she added. “Supporting supplier diversity brings economic benefits to not only our suppliers, but also to the regional economies where they do business . . . We encourage a sense of giving back to help our most vulnerable. When we help one another, when we listen to one another—we all grow stronger and learn from one another.”

Orozco-Mejia, who grew up in Jalisco, Mexico, credits role models in her early life for helping her grow and learn—propeling her educational and professional successes. Her mother, for example, encouraged her to pursue an education and economic independence.

After her family moved to Los Angeles County, Orozco-Mejia considered a career in the sciences—medicine or engineering.

Then she met an engineer—a woman—at a career fair at the University of Southern California who inspired her. Orozco-Mejia came to a deciding point: Engineering was not “a man’s job,” she told the Press-Enterprise newspaper.

“As a child, my family instilled in me a drive to work hard and to view challenges as opportunities to grow,” Orozco-Mejia said. “As a child, I never imagined the opportunities ahead of me, but they’ve become a reality.”

She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from California State University, Los Angeles. When Orozco-Mejia was a junior, she accepted an internship with SoCalGas and remained with the utility ever since. Before becoming a vice president, she served as director of labor relations, of regional operations, and of systems operations. In her current position, she oversees all aspects of gas distribution operations for Southern California Gas and San Diego Gas and Electric, two regulated California utilities owned by Sempra Energy.

“I hope my story inspires others to dream big, aim high, and to work hard,” Orozco-Mejia said. “You can accomplish so much with hard work and perseverance.”