Leaders Making a Difference

International Women’s Day (IWD) edition, 2024

As a part of our Leaders Making a Difference interview series, every March and into April, dss+ draws special focus on women leaders from around the globe. Through engaging conversations, they share their insights and stories - and collectively reflect on the vast array of challenges faced by the business community. We’re proud to provide this platform, highlighting the incredible impact they all have, across a broad range of roles, sectors, and countries.

Meet the Leaders

Ms. Seema Arora
Deputy Director General, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Member of the dss+ Impact Advisory Board
With over three decades of experience, Seema is a renowned expert in environmental management and sustainable development in India. She collaborates with industry, government, and community-based organisations to develop policy instruments, curate collaborative initiatives, and advise the government on low-carbon growth strategies and sustainable development action plans. Seema’s multifaceted contributions make her an invaluable asset in advancing sustainability across sectors and stakeholders.
Cristiane Goulart
Labour Relations, Health and Safety Leader, Mercedes-Benz Brazil
By combining legal expertise and extensive experience in health and safety, Cristiane Goulart has created an inspiring career built on passion and responsibility for safety and the well-being of employees.
Nanny Gaul
Head of Property Management for MPA Property Administration, a Member of FIBRA Macquarie
Nanny Gaul’s remarkable success story unfolds from her modest beginnings in Colombia to her flourishing career in the US, where she arrived as a young woman with limited English skills and no college degree. Hard work paid off and within a few years she entered the industrial real estate industry where she has held several C-level positions. Today, as the Head of Property Management for MPA Property Administration, a Member of FIBRA Macquarie, a real estate investment trust targeting industrial, retail, and office real estate opportunities in Mexico, Nanny is responsible for managing a portfolio of 240 industrial properties.
Nanny recently spoke with dss+ about her incredible career trajectory, why she believes empathy is critical for anyone in a leadership position, and why learning from the people around you will ultimately help accelerate your career.
Brenda Allen
VP, Health, Safety, Security & Environmental, Motiva Enterprises
Brenda Allen has spent her career advocating for safety, security, and environmental best practices within the oil and gas industry. After receiving her MS in Hydrogeology, Brenda worked as a Geologist before holding a global leadership role at Shell where she was responsible for environmental management across all Shell sites throughout the world.
Brenda now heads the health, safety, security, and environmental operations at Motiva Enterprises, a Houston-based company that refines, distributes, and markets petroleum products. She recently spoke with dss+ about supporting the experts on her team, allowing equal opportunity for everyone to flourish, keeping her values in generosity and how these ideas can benefit anyone in a leadership role.
Saakshi Agrawal
Director – Strategy, Wibmo, a PayU Company
Saakshi, a strategic fintech leader, merges financial expertise with innovation, championing diversity and driving sustainable practices. Her journey embodies resilience while fostering continuous learning, defined by clarity, integrity, and empowering leadership.
Ting He
Deputy General Manager, China Construction Science and Industry Corporation
Self-proclaimed as a “non-mainstream” female leader in the construction industry, Ms. He Ting, Deputy General Manager, China Construction Science and Industry Corporation, has developed a profound understanding of sustainability over her 20+ years career and become a committed practitioner of sustainability in the industry. In this interview, drawing from her experiences as Vice President and Chief Information Officer at China Construction Fourth Engineering Division Corporation Ltd. (CSCEC-4), she shared insights on technological innovations, corporate sustainability development, internal collaboration, and talent cultivation. She also shared her personal journey of sustainability, as well as experiences in continuous research and diversified learning.
Luciana Côrtes Carvas
Human Resources, Occupational Health & Safety and Social Responsibility Director, São Martinho
With an extensive background in human resources, Luciana Côrtes Carvas drives workplace safety at São Martinho with great authenticity, ensuring her career journey is a opportunity to influence, care for and lead people in a respectful and enjoyable way. With 12,500 people working for this organisation, amongst the largest sugar-energy groups in Brazil, the responsibility is large.
Nathalie Viens
Managing Director and Head of Asset Management Private Infrastructure, CBRE Investment Management
Nathalie Viens has worked in operational and asset management across several industries — renewable energy, transportation, fiber — before landing at CBRE Investment Management, where she is responsible for developing and managing private infrastructure, asset management, strategy and implementation across it's portfolio. Her skill set throughout her career has included risk management, operational excellence & transformation, and value creation. Nathalie recently spoke with dss+ about why pragmatism has served her well, why female leaders should always ask for what they want, and why successful leadership is about empowering employees to thrive.
Judy Zheng
QSE Director, Swire Coca-Cola China,Chair of the Swire China Health & Safety Working Group
Drawing on background in food engineering and extensive experience in diverse operational roles across the supply chain, Judy Zheng, QSE Director, Swire Coca-Cola China, deeply understands the critical importance of safety. During the interview, she shared insights on the roles and values of corporate safety culture and safety management, as well as the development of leadership, influence, and other soft skills through her involvement in safety practices.
Marna Cloete
President, Ivanhoe Mines
Marna Cloete’s trajectory into the mining industry emerged out of necessity and opportunism. Now, as an influential leader in the sector, Marna explains the significance of shaping her career path and the power of a ‘can do’ mindset.
Talia Elsener
Head of Corporate Sustainability and Responsible Investing, Arcmont Asset Management
The ability to absorb, learn and summarise detailed reports has become a key skill for Talia Elsener, as she navigates and leads Arcmont Asset Management’s ESG efforts. Here she explains her career progression and the impact of linking financial incentives with positive change.
Yuki Ghantous
Japan Country President, BHP
Unafraid to dive into the unknown and test the limits of what’s possible, BHP’s Yuki Ghantous has embraced a journey across cultures, sectors and roles. Yuki shared her principles for leadership and decision making, as well as her thoughts on the business value of listening, with dss+.
Isabelle Pagnotta
Partner and Head of Business Services, Inflexion Private Equity
With over 20 years of private equity experience, Isabelle Pagnotta has a proven track record of backing and partnering with management teams to help them accelerate growth and achieve their ambitions. Here Isabelle discusses why she’s an advocate of diversity in the financial world, as well as her passion for mentoring aspiring female private equity professionals.
Yvette Manolas
General Manager and Head of Global Decarbonisation, Woodside
Combining engineering experience, operational know-how, business acumen and a positive leadership style has enabled Yvette Manolas to drive real change right across Woodside’s global business. She met with dss+ to discuss her role, the way businesses and leaders can approach decarbonisation and sustainability more broadly, and what’s worked for her.
Anne-Sophie Heitz
Safety (EHS) Leader, Global Water Technology, Xylem Europe
In her latest role as Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Leader for global water technology provider Xylem Europe, Anne-Sophie Heitz builds on a vibrant passion for safety that began when working in the power generation industry. Anne-Sophie talks to dss+ about how a curious mind, a thirst for knowledge and getting to know her audience have been crucial qualities for conquering safety leadership challenges.
Virginia Esly
COO Europe and Member of the Executive Management Board, Messer
With extensive and diverse operational business experience, including overseeing merger integration and business transformation, Virginia Esly shares her leadership style, passion for innovation and the importance of being customer focused to gain a competitive edge.
Cherie Tan
Head, Public Affairs, Science and Sustainability, Bayer Crop Science, Asia Pacific
Formative years in the field have shaped Cherie Tan’s career and her approach to sustainability. Now Head, Public Affairs, Science and Sustainability at Bayer, Cherie spoke with dss+ about the lessons that stayed with her and how she applies these in her daily work, as well as the reasons why she encourages other leaders to head out into the field.
Anna Petrachkova
Health and Safety Director, Emirates Steel Arkan
With over 20 years’ senior experience of safety management within multi-national oil, gas and mining companies, Anna Petrachkova champions persistent, visible, and sincere leadership as the secret ingredient of a safety culture.
Dr. Alexa Dembek
Chief Technology and Sustainability Officer, DuPont
A born problem solver, Alexa Dembek has spent the past three decades at DuPont building winning teams, strengthening its innovation engine and driving impact across multiple leadership roles. As the company’s current Chief Technology and Sustainability Officer, Alexa talks to dss+ about how innovation and sustainability are intertwined to deliver business value, how she stays motivated as a leader, and important lessons she’s learned along her journey.
Nathalie Ponzevera
Director of Health and Safety, RATP Group
With passion for defining strategic issues and implementing solutions, Nathalie Ponzevera uses her extensive management experience to drive safety and performance by creating a culture that is open, honest, and celebrated.
Aurore Amaudruz
Director of Markets at Romande Energie
Passionate about renewable energies and their impact, here Aurore explains the importance of walking the talk, surrounding yourself with the best people, understanding market triggers and being inspired every day.
Doris Horvath
Head of the Safety, Security and Environment, Luxembourg National Railway Company, CFL
With a wealth of safety management experience, Doris Horvath is passionate about managers investing time in face-to-face safety management to create an open and engaging safety culture.
Betül Susamis Unaran
dss+ Impact Advisory Board Member Chief Commercial Office and Member of the Executive Leadership Team at Unilabs
This year’s Ambassador for the dss+ Women Making a Difference initiative, Betül Susamis Unaran, member of the dss+ Impact Advisory Board and Chief Commercial Officer at Unilabs, discusses her drive to transform healthcare, diagnostics and ultimately make a difference in people’s lives.
We will continue to release new interviews throughout March and early April.