POWERful Women welcomes new Board members, including two new young professionals

POWERful Women welcomes new Board members, including two new young professionals



POWERful Women [1] is delighted to announce the appointment of Joanna Whittington, and Tomi Isaacs to its Board; and the addition for the first time of young professionals in an advisory capacity – Francesca Putzu and Ola Balbaa. Francis Gugen has also announced his retirement from the Board, after 10 years. 



Katie Jackson, Chair of POWERful Women, said;


“We are delighted to welcome our two new Board members, Joanna Whittington and Tomi Isaacs, whose experience in organisational governance and diversity and inclusion strategy will bring fresh and valuable insights. We are also excited to bring early career representation onto the Board for the first time from two young women working in energy, offering their unique perspectives and advice as we embark on the next decade of POWERful Women. We all look forward to working with our new members.


“We are also saying a sad goodbye to Francis Gugen, after 10 years of support on the POWERful Women Board. We thank him enormously for his valuable contributions, which were always insightful, honest and constructive, and for being a strong ally to the team and to the mission of POWERful women since its inception.”




Joanna Whittington [2] has held a number of senior roles in the energy and transport sectors and in economic regulation and was formerly Director General, Energy and Security at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Commenting on her appointment, she said;


“I am delighted to be joining the Board of POWERful Women, a fantastic organisation that has, in the last ten years, made a significant contribution to the profile of women in the energy sector. An equal, diverse and inclusive energy sector is an essential enabler of the energy transition and POWERful Women is an important catalyst to achieving this.”


Tomi Isaacs [3] is a Senior Director at Catalyst, the global NGO helping build workplaces for women, and formerly worked with the 30% Club and at WPP. She commented;


“The energy transition and UK energy companies’ commitments to achieve Net Zero targets over the next 25 years requires the best talent from a diverse workforce. I’m thrilled to have been asked to join the POWERful Women Board. I hope to shape the strategy to achieve the ‘40% by 30’ target, which will transform the UK energy sector.”


Young Professional Board Member, Francesca Putzu [4] is a data analyst, currently leading power market analysis for EMEA at the solar developer Lightsource bp.  She said;


“I’m deeply honoured to join the POWERful Women Board as a Young Professional Member, especially as we celebrate its 10th anniversary this year. I look forward to contributing to their dedicated efforts of creating a more gender-balanced and inclusive energy sector workforce that better reflects the diversity of the society it serves.”

Young Professional Board Member Ola Balbaa [5], is a Wells Engineer at bp and was nominated in the “Top 50 Women of Egypt”.  She said;


“As a young professional working in the energy sector, I always believed that diversity adds value. Joining the POWERful Women Board holds a huge opportunity for me to contribute to a more innovative environment, through embracing talent and creating equal opportunities. That way we can embrace diverse perspectives and better tackle the worldwide energy challenges.”



Francis Gugen is one of the founding members of POWERful Women’s advisory board, supporting the initiative since it began in 2014. Francis commented;



“It has been a privilege to be part of taking POWERful Women from an idea to a force for meaningful change and to see it now in the hands of the next exceptional generation.  I believe that POWERful Women has not only changed the opportunities for women but has made men more effective too; both needed for the vital energy transition.”


POWERful Women was established in 2014 and this year is celebrating a decade of championing women in the UK energy sector.





Anna Stanford, Communications Adviser: +44 7961 234634  anna@powerfulwomen.org.uk



  1. About POWERful Women

POWERful Women (PfW) is a professional initiative working to achieve a gender-balanced, diverse and inclusive energy sector in the UK to meet the needs of a net zero future.  Our target is for at least 40% of middle management and leadership roles to be held by women by 2030. To deliver this we work with business leaders, D&I experts, government, the regulators, aspiring women and partner organisations to accelerate change. We support, challenge and connect: publishing research and annual statistics on female representation in the industry; encouraging collaboration, learning and sharing through the Energy Leaders’ Coalition; running a mentoring programme for women; providing practical career and D&I resources, case studies and guidance; communicating the benefits of better diversity and inclusion; and running networking and learning events. We Find out more at www.powerfulwomen.org.uk


  1. Joanna Whittington has held a number of senior roles in the energy and transport sectors and in economic regulation. She is currently an independent Non-Executive Director at SGN, a UK gas distribution business, and a Non-Executive Director at the Payment Systems Regulator. Before starting her portfolio career, Joanna was Director General, Energy and Security at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) from October 2018 to December 2022. While at BEIS she was champion of the women’s network, Women Empowered. Joanna was the CEO of the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) from January 2016, after joining in 2014 as Director of Railway Markets and Economics with responsibility for ORR’s economic regulation and competition roles. Prior to this she worked at Ofgem where she held a number of senior posts. In her last role as Partner for Markets, she was responsible for regulation of the wholesale gas and electricity markets.


  1. Tomi Isaacs is a Senior Director at Catalyst’s EMEA office, and leverages her experience and expertise to manage partnerships with UK Headquartered companies, across different industries, from media and financial services to extractive industries and tech. Using research to drive greater workplace inclusion, Tomi ensures that organisations and their senior leaders are equipped with the necessary resources to achieve meaningful change across their equity, inclusion and diversity initiatives. Tomi is a sought-after panellist and moderator, and delivers keynotes that promote inclusion and workplaces that enable underrepresented people to thrive. Prior to joining Catalyst, Tomi worked at Moving Ahead, managing cross-company mentoring programmes for the 30% Club. She was also a Global Account Director at WPP, working in communications, strategy and business development functions across the WPP Group for over 10 years. Tomi has a BA in History & Politics from Goldsmiths, University of London, and lives in London with her husband and two daughters.


  1. Francesca Putzu is an energy data analyst, currently leading power market analysis for EMEA at Lightsource bp, a global leader in solar development. Her expertise spans energy data analytics and power trading, having previously worked at Arenko, a software services company that optimises grid-scale battery storage. With previous experience at Statkraft and the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology, her enthusiasm for building the future energy system extends beyond her work. She was previously in the committee leading the Energy Institute’s Young Professionals Network in London and was awarded the Lights on Women Scholarship to study electricity markets by Florence School of Regulation. She holds a dual masters degree in MSc International Energy from Sciences Po, Paris School of International Affairs, and MA Science and Security, from King’s College London’s War Studies Department.”


  1. Ola Balbaa graduated in Gas and Petrochemical Engineering in 2012 and got an MSc in renewable energy at Alexandria University, Egypt. She has been working in the energy field for ~8 years, moving from a graduate Wellsite leader role to a lead Engineer in Wells at bp. Currently, she is part of the central wells discipline team looking after drilling operations in the North Sea. During her career she has lectured at a variety of conferences including SPE, ADIPEC, IADC and the Women’s Global Leadership conference in Houston. She was nominated among the “Top 50 Women of Egypt”, an award given to influential female figures by the Minister of Planning and Economic Development and has appeared on TV shows and podcasts to discuss women in male-dominated careers, their challenges and inspirations. She is also mentor to a number of graduates pursuing engineering careers and has led the D&I committees at SPE YP and BP Egypt Women in Wells Network.


  1. The full list of PfW Board Members can be found here: https://powerfulwomen.org.uk/board/


Photos are available on request.