Female engineering leaders thrive at EPWater

Female engineering leaders thrive at EPWater
Posted on 02/17/2022
Rojas and Castillo participated in the First Annual Girl Powered Conference at the University of Texas at El Paso in October. Utility Engineer Associate Emma Saucedo-Cordova and Engineering Lead Technician Desiree Dominguez also took part.

El Paso Water is a rare phenom in the water industry, as the utility’s female engineers in leadership continue to shatter barriers and build diversity.

Less than one in five employees in the water sector are women, according to a 2020 study by the World Bank on women in water utilities.

With six female engineers in leadership roles, EPWater offers aspiring female employees a pool of inspirational role models.

  • Interim Chief Technical Officer Irazema Rojas
  • Wastewater Treatment Manager Aide Fuentes
  • Water Production Manager Veronica Galindo
  • Engineering Division Manager Amy Castner for Water/Wastewater Engineering
  • Engineering Division Manager Adriana Castillo for Planning and Development
  • Engineering Division Manager Gisela Dagnino for Stormwater Engineering

Career advancement

All are longtime employees who have developed their careers at the utility and climbed the ranks. Most notably, they all have a significant role in the design and maintenance of EPWater’s water, wastewater and stormwater systems, as well as in policymaking.

All agree dedication, diligence and perseverance led them to their current positions.

“You really have to put in your work, and let your work speak for itself,” said Rojas, the first woman to be promoted to Interim Chief Technical Officer. “Don’t limit yourself. I hope that I am doing something right so that other women and men could follow suit.”

The secret to success is in managing the tougher projects, said Castillo, who began her career as a chemical engineer working in the lab at EPWater.

“Learn as much as you can,” Castillo said. “Don’t shy away from challenging projects because those will give you more tools in the future to become promotable.”

Castner stressed that all aspiring engineers should become licensed professional engineers.

“It wasn’t easy for me to get either, but that’s the route you have to take to move up,” said Castner, whose father was an engineer and provided inspiration.

Fostering growth

Interim Chief Technical Officer Irazema Rojas (from left), Engineering Division Manager Adriana Castillo for Planning and Development and Engineering Division Manager Amy Castner for Water/Wastewater Engineering are helping to build diversity at El Paso Water. All agree that EPWater helped lay the foundation for their successful careers.

“I have always had opportunities to grow,” Castillo said. “If you want it and the opportunity is open, they consider the person and their qualifications.”

“EPWater is like a family because we cooperate with everybody else and work as a team,” Castner said.

“There’s a focus on continuing education and bettering yourself,” said Galindo, who said her affinity for math and science led to her engineering career. “Supervisors are always very supportive of whatever class you want to take, even though it’s going to move you out of the section. They want you to advance.”

Rojas is also grateful she had the opportunity to advance her career in the El Paso community, where she has enjoyed work-life balance as a working mother.

“I love our city,” Rojas said. “We are a model community, and I think we have had great women in leadership positions, from former mayors to female engineers who have pioneered this industry.”

Find this story and more in the Engineers Week Supplement.

El Paso Water | All Rights Reserved | Powered by CivicLive | © PowerSchool Corporation