In our special column this month, we are happy to host an interview with Boyana Achovski, Secretary General, Gas Infrastructure Europe who values the encouragement she has received from the numerous people she has encountered who have assisted in her professional growth. As she explains, ‘believe in yourself’ has been always the best advice since it serves as a constant source of inspiration and drive. However, success requires everyone to be ready for the reality of the workplace and to learn from their failures.
ith regards to the maritime industry, working at an Association which supports LNG as a marine fuel, she says that more LNG infrastructure is currently being developed and a record high number of LNG ships are soon coming online. ”’LNG is a good solution for now. But the same infrastructure is also fit for climate neutral bioLNG and synthetic LNG. With no additional modifications or investments.” she explains.
SAFETY4SEA: How did it come about that you joined the gas infrastructure industry and your field of expertise specifically? Within your role, you are representing European LNG terminals, storage and pipeline facilities.
Boyana Achovski: It was not a planned journey. I graduated in International relations, I worked in the European Parliament, and I always thought I would deal with politics. Some might say diplomacy, even. But definitely, international affairs. At one point, I got a proposal from the Bulgarian gas infrastructure operator. It looked so complex from the beginning that I thought it wouldn’t last long. But I was supposed to lead and have a big team of experts to support my responsibilities with probably the most significant international investments in gas infrastructure projects in my country then. So it was too interesting to refuse. 13 years later, here I am still in the unplanned but very well-known to me now and much-respected industry. Today, I am proud to be a part of one of the most critical industries in society. Energy!
S4S: What about your current job/ role most excites you and why?
B.A: Working with people was always what I loved the most and in my current job, I’ve finally found the perfect link to what I thought I’d be doing all along. I lead an international team based in Brussels; we operate the activities in the heart of Europe that are born from the vision of our industry. Decarbonizing the grid and giving the possibility to look to a greener, brighter future excites this team the most. In Brussels, we represent 66 companies from 25 different countries. These colleagues are different; considerable patience and diplomacy are needed to reach a common goal and find a proper way forward. The diversity and exclusivity we have within our dimensions are what make us strong. Seeing us united and finding solutions to lead us toward our vision excites me the most.
S4S: When you think of the word successful who’s the first person who comes to mind and why?
B.A: Success means something different to everyone, so it’s hard to pinpoint just one person. However, when I think about whom I’d like to see as a complete and fulfilled individual, a couple of people come to mind. Firstly, the fantastic team I lead and work with every day – I’d love to see them all reach their full potential and achieve their personal and professional goals. And, of course, my son, who I’m constantly inspired by and want to see grow into a well-rounded and fulfilled person. As an executive and a parent, supporting the success of those around me motivates me daily.
S4S: Who is/was the most influential person/mentor to you & why?
B.A: Now, that question hits home for me. Without the support and guidance of my mentors, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by incredible intelligence and a fine-tuned approach that has shaped me as a leader. I have been greatly influenced by the presidents of our association (Gas Infrastructure Europe) I worked closely with. Their guidance has helped shape me into the manager and person I am today. Their leadership and mentorship have impacted me as their wisdom and experience constantly inspire me.
S4S: What is the best and what was the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given and why?
B.A: The best advice I’ve ever received is the simplest: “You can do it. Trust yourself.” It is a constant source of motivation and encouragement. Things should be simple, actually, when you face challenges or self-doubt. However, too much confidence can lead you down a dangerous path. Finding a balance between believing in yourself and being open to constructive feedback and self-reflection is essential. This helps ensure you stay grounded and humble while striving for success. So, this simple advice can also be the worst if taken to an extreme.
S4S: What is the most worthwhile career investment (in energy, time, money) you’ve ever made?
B.A: Money, energy, and time are best to invest in learning, studying, and developing. That makes you feel that you know and that you can. Such investment can give you confidence and knowledge to tackle new challenges and grow professionally. However, the truth is that experience is the ultimate teacher. No amount of studying or training can fully prepare you for the realities of the workplace. You have to be willing to get your hands dirty, take risks, and learn from your mistakes. So, while investing in yourself is essential, don’t forget that the most valuable career investment you can make is gaining real experience.
S4S: If you could give a piece of advice to your 18-year-old-self, what would it be and why? What piece of advice should you ignore?
B.A: Advice – choose wisely what you would like to become. Hear your inner senses and better understand what you are good at. Then it’s easy. / Ignore – those voices that think they know best what is good for you. Do not try to become something that others dream of achieving.
S4S: In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your business life?
B.A: Surely, the new belief is to think about what you leave for future generations. I represent a crucial sector for human society and feel our sector’s responsibility to the citizens. Our vision is “greening and innovating.” As my past five years were quite intense from a career perspective, I needed to speed up the rhythm to show results. Thus, I recognized the need to learn leadership well and studied it more in-depth. The more I learned, the more I understood that things should be as natural and easy as possible. Burnout is also something recognizable. Thus, I implemented a strong discipline in my professional life – being as efficient as possible, but the key is having a limit. Recognize well and accept your limits. That means you become a real professional.
S4S: What would you like to change in the current maritime landscape and your area of expertise specifically and why?
B.A: I think we can all agree that it’s been a bumpy ride in the maritime sector due to COVID-19, the value chain disruptions and the rising prices of goods. As the EU wants to decarbonize the maritime sector, we really need to look into how to make it affordable and sustainable for all. Keeping the costs low is one of our priorities. And with LNG we believe we can deliver that. More LNG infrastructure is currently being developed and a record high number of LNG ships are soon coming online. LNG is a good solution for now. But the same infrastructure is also fit for climate neutral bioLNG and synthetic LNG. With no additional modifications or investments. We’re ready. We’re now waiting for the volumes.
S4S: What is your personal motto?
B.A.: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi said it all to those who want to be seen as frontrunners.
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.