Abengoa is a company that is constantly looking ahead and never falling behind. It is looking at creating a sustainable world for future generations and solving today’s problems all at once. Abengoa is a one-stop shop for design, engineering, management, construction, and operation in the energy and environment sectors. The company uses and invents innovative technology to provide solutions to generate energy from renewable sources, convert biomass into fuels, and provide clean drinking water to many parts of the world. With a history of more than 70 years in the energy sector, and more than 26,000 employees worldwide, Abengoa is a true giant in the industry. Executive Vice President of Abengoa Abeinsa, Manuel Valverde, spoke to The CEO Magazine about Abengoa’s history, its vision for the future, and how it has grown so quickly in the last 10 years.

Manuel, originally, was a mathematician, having studied mathematics at the University of Seville in his native Spain. After graduating with his bachelor’s degree in 1986, Manuel got his first job at Abengoa and has been working with the company ever since. His first position was with the Abengoa subsidiary Abengoa Control Data (ACD), working as a software analyst and programmer. He worked developing high-level applications for the energy management systems branch, which required a move away from Spain to the corporation’s headquarters in the United States. “I am a mathematician,” Manuel says. “When I finished studying I joined Abengoa’s computer company in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I started working over there and getting involved in a lot of things.”

After two years in this role, Manuel was promoted to a project manager position, overseeing a number of IT projects Abengoa was working on. These projects centred around developing real-time systems to control and optimise electricity networks and energy use, and allowed Manuel to get his first experience in a management role. After three years doing this, he moved into a commercial director position, in charge of the proposal team. “I started from an analyst and programmer role, all the way up to a product developer, working with different teams and putting together proposals, initiating contracts and signing those contracts, developing products for our customers.”

The commercial director role meant that Manuel was in charge of all domestic and international quotations for the automation, control, and telecommunication projects that related to electric, oil, and gas companies. It was a lot of responsibility after only five years at Abengoa, and showed the company’'s confidence in Manuel’s leadership skills. This confidence was shown again when after three years as a commercial director, Manuel was appointed project director of the company’'s interests in Mexico. This meant moving south to Mexico, and being responsible for the automation of the country’s national gas and LPG pipeline. The project had a budget of US$120 million when it began in 1997, and Manuel had to manage a team of more than 125 engineers and 450 contractors.