The challenge of volunteer work

The spirit arose in her when she was a child, in her native Romania, living with and witnessing the work carried out by the volunteers arriving in the country after the 1989 revolution. From then on, Ioana Ratiu always strove to get involved in volunteer work, which she still does today in parallel with her full-time job

Ioana Ratiu is 34 years old and works at Galp, where she is part of a team specialising in the development of new business and business transformation projects. She was born in Cluj, in the Romanian region of Transylvania, at the time when the country and its people were under the yoke of the communist dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu, which ended with the 1989 revolution. She says her childhood was different in a poorer country where people had little or no access to information. However, the revolution brought with it democracy, greater transparency and opened up the country to the rest of the world. As a result, many foreigners came to Romania to do volunteer work. Influenced by the open manner in which they interacted with each other and with Romanians, Ioana Ratiu strove to do the same from an early age, joining various volunteer campaigns to help other people


When Ioana first came to Portugal, where she has now lived for over 12 years, she brought a mission-oriented spirit with her. Furthermore, she has always been eager to participate in corporate volunteer programmes at every company she has worked for.

Nowadays, she says that what she enjoys doing most is working with children and young people. And that's exactly what she was doing on the day Energiser interviewed her, during a break, at this year's second regional meeting of Apps for Good, the educational programme designed to challenge students and teachers to develop applications for smartphones and tablets, showing them the potential of technology in transforming the world and the communities in which they operate. Students have the opportunity to experience the product development cycle and to mix with a network of experts such as Ioana Ratiu.

“It's voluntary work carried out with children and young people in need of some kind of mentoring”, she says. In her case, she serves as a marketing specialist, mainly due to her connection with energy and environment-related issues, Galp's areas of expertise.


“Teachers and children and young people – both primary and secondary school students – submit online requests for mentoring at Apps for Good, our partner association”, explains Ioana Ratiu. “If we think it's worth helping them develop a certain topic, we arrange a time for a chat through a videoconference, a format that really helped us carry out this kind of work during the pandemic”, she says, stressing that it doesn´t take up much time or force her to travel. “Hence, it fits into my daily life perfectly”, she says.

Sometimes, children and young people just ask us if the idea is a good one or if it´s financially viable. The topics addressed are wide-ranging, and some of them are out of the ordinary. A good example of this is the idea consisting of an application designed to locate the nests of a species of Asian wasp that are decimating bees in certain regions of Portugal, with disastrous consequences for beekeepers. The idea arose from the complaints of a beekeeper, the neighbour of one of these children´s grandfather. Ioana Ratiu liked the idea, particularly due to the fact it´s a solution for a real problem, although it receives little publicity, and tried to help, as she does with every team that seeks her support. In addition to providing tips for the creation of useful applications, she helped the authors of the project understand how to make money with them through basic and easy-to-implement business rules.

“Every hour I spend with children and young people is a mental and emotional investment”

As far as I´m concerned, every hour I spend with children and young people is a mental and emotional investment, and one that can also be beneficial to Galp, as I also evolve a little more when I do this type of work”, she says, adding that “this also happens to others”. As such, she believes we need to involve more people from the company in volunteer work, giving them more options on the current platform to enable them to choose what they want to do, while communicating more frequently and in a clear manner that is easy to understand. “Moreover, team building projects can be developed around these topics”, she concludes.

Galp Volunteer Work

Inspired by the Every Step Counts initiative, which engaged more than 55,000 volunteers across the country, Galp believes in the mobilising power of its people in the communities in which the company operates. The new Galp Volunteer Work digital platform aims to give visibility to volunteer work of a social nature carried out in Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Mozambique and Eswatini, and invites each and every one of its employees to take part. Because the only way of ensuring a transforming impact on the lives of a considerable number of people, on the development of communities and on the preservation of the planet is through sharing and cooperation.