» Featured Articles
» Subscription Information
» Reader Survey
» Companies Actively Recruiting
Lighting the Way
Energy provides the spark that powers all other sectors.
Our economy, our lives, our devices - and even ourselves - need energy to move forward. Energy is what powers planes, trains and automobiles. It keeps factories in motion. It provides the fuel for farmers’ tractors to be built and to run so that we have food. The energy sector invigorates this country, allowing for advancements to be made and for breakthroughs to be discovered.
Meet some of the folks who are jazzed to be play an integral role in the energy gas and utilities industry, which helps light the way for people do their jobs and live their lives without missing a beat. Discover what sparked their interest in energy and why their stories should serve as shining beacon for others to join them in this sector.
Reliability & Relationships Result in Success for Alabama Power’s Thomas
K-Rob Thomas, transmission construction general manager at Alabama Power of Southern Company, understands that Silicon Valley hasn’t cornered the market on innovation.
“I love our company’s commitment to innovation. Alabama Power and our parent company, Southern Company, are always seeking ways to serve our customers safer, smarter, faster [and] better, and to save them money. Our company culture encourages ideas and understands the value that a broad range of thinking brings,” says Thomas.
Birmingham, AL-based Alabama Power provides service 1.4 million homes, businesses and industries in the southern two-thirds of the state. That 1.4 million is part of Atlanta, GA-based parent Southern Company’s nine million-plus customers. It’s quite clear that Thomas and his team do essential work.
“I also really enjoy the responsibility that comes with providing reliable electric service. We take very seriously our responsibility to keep the lights on and get them back on quickly when they go out. It’s humbling to know that people’s lives and their quality of life are directly affected by how well we perform,” he shares.
However, their contributions of Thomas and his energy colleagues aren’t limited to keeping the lights on: “After 14 years working at Alabama Power and other Southern Company subsidiaries, I’m still amazed by the number of positive impacts we have on the communities we serve. Beyond providing clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy, we partner in education, provide leadership on community boards, engage in workforce and economic development and support charitable organizations.”
They also rise to the occasion when Mother Nature goes haywire.
“In the energy industry, there’s nothing more challenging than preparing for and responding to a natural disaster. The tornadoes that struck the Southeast in April 2011 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 really put our knowledge, training and critical thinking to the test. It also tested our patience and resolve,” recalls Thomas.
“Relying on your values can help one overcome challenges and great odds, but you also have to know your job and have the technical expertise. It’s also important to surround yourself with great people who are passionate about the same goals and are totally committed to the pursuit of excellence.”
And, according to the energy manager, Alabama Power and Southern Company are chock full of such great people.
“The thing I enjoy most about my job is the people I get to work with every day. Alabama Power is a family. We support each other in good times and encourage each other during challenging times. I’ve built relationships through work that will last a lifetime,” Thomas reflects.
Those relationships that you build will also help you thrive on a professional level. This is why Thomas feels a diverse network is essential: “You cannot achieve career growth on your own. You must develop a diverse, strong peer network that constantly engages and challenges you to grow. Don’t be confined by bias or boundary.”
Look upward, too: “Identify senior leaders who model the behaviors and skills you aspire to learn and seek their guidance. The hardest part of connecting with senior leaders and forming a relationship is taking the first step. Once you do, you’ll find they want to connect with you, [too].”
Log onto alabamapower.com/about-us/career.asp to view Alabama Power jobs. Go to southerncompany.com/about-us/careers/home.cshtml to see Southern Company careers. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+.
About Alabama Power
Alabama Power provides electricity supply and service to 1.4 million homes, businesses and industries in the southern two-thirds of Alabama. Its parent, Southern Company, provides service to nine million-plus customers in the Southeast via its subsidiaries.
Perseverance & Passion Power Hawk at Consumers Energy
Jereshia Hawk, transmission pipeline engineer, considers Consumers Energy’s history with a marvelous mix of humility and awe.
“The most surprising thing about my company is how much we have grown and evolved over the past 130 years. To think that we started because an operator/entrepreneur by the name of William Augustine Foote, back in 1886, enjoyed tinkering around with electricity is fascinating. We started out as a small downtown lighting project and have grown into one of the nation’s largest utility companies. Our history makes me feel like anything is possible!” she enthuses.
Consumers Energy is now Michigan’s largest utility, serving six million-plus of the state’s 10 million residents. The Jackson, MI-based company is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy Corporation.
Hawk is also awestruck by the importance of her work: “The fact that I have a direct impact on millions of people every day by the work I do is still surreal for me, knowing that every assignment I work on, every dollar I invest in infrastructure improvements, everything that I do impacts my neighbors, my family and more than six million residents across the state of Michigan. I help farmers dry their crops. I help parents cook warm meals for their families.”
Hawk pushes students to prepare for their coming impact: “Open yourself to be curious and to explore your curiosity. I knew nothing about the energy industry and had no plans of working for a utility, but an opportunity presented itself my junior year of college and I was open to exploring it. That was the best decision I ever made because I work for a company that is like a second family to me. I’m excited to go to work and I am fulfilled by the work that I do every day.”
However, to thrive, you might have to survive some uncomfortable situations.
“When I decided to switch my major to civil engineering, I would walk into classroom after classroom, unable to immediately identify with anyone around me. This was challenging because there was no one around that I could look up to for support and encouragement.,” she recalls.
“When I entered corporate America, the stark visual reality of brown women in my field wasn’t much different. Even though being one of ‘the only’ comes with its challenges - at least it did for me - I didn’t let that hold me back from being great. Instead of focusing on what was lacking, I shifted my perspective to think about ways I could make it better. How could I influence my environment to think differently about workforce development, talent acquisition, diversity and inclusion?”
Perseverance has put Hawk in a fine place: “I’m proud to say I work for an organization that allows me to present solutions that are supported by my organization to make Consumers Energy a great place to work. I celebrate the diversity achievements of my organization, but I do not settle for them.”
The engineer also continues to work to ensure she’s not the only one in her fine place.
“Of the engineering graduates in the U.S., only one percent of them look like me. With there being so few of individuals in the STEM industry who are African-American women, it’s my personal mission to change these statistics. I aim to advance the empowerment of women by removing barriers and demystifying stereotypes about what’s socially expected of women in my industry. I aim to not only have a seat at the table, but to have a voice, and to empower others to do the same!” Hawk vows.
Go to new.consumersenergy.com/company/careers to peruse Consumers Energy job paths. Visit cmsenergy.com/careers/default.aspx to look at CMS Energy career paths. Connect on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Flickr and Google+.
About Consumers Energy
Consumers Energy provides electric and natural gas service to six million-plus of the state’s 10 million residents. It’s the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy Corporation. With its subsidiary, CMS Enterprises Company, CMS Energy is also engaged in independent power generation in several states.
PSEG’s Baca Sees Promising Outlook for Power
Emilio Baca, a reliability engineer for Newark, NJ-based PSEG, didn’t realize the scope of his company when he was first hired.
“What I found surprising when I came on board at PSEG is how well-diversified the business is. The company owns generating units, as well as transmission and distribution assets, and these have to be managed separately due to government regulations,” Baca explains.
“The technologies within the generating stations also are diverse. We have everything from gas turbines in both simple and combined-cycle arrangements to nuclear, fossil fuel and renewable energy plants, including solar. In the end all of these business units work together so our customers can enjoy the ‘miracle’ of electricity.”
That constant “miracle” of electricity is easy to overlook, according to the engineer.
“We’re one of the most reliable companies in the industry right now, producing clean and efficient energy to meet customer demand at all times. Electricity is so critical to everyday life, yet it’s often taken for granted. It takes a great deal of work and team effort to produce and deliver electricity in a safe, clean and efficient manner, and I’m happy to be part of a team who makes this possible.”
Baca feels PSEG also makes growth possible: “I love my job allows me to expand my technical skills and business knowledge, both through formal or on-the-job training. I can then use these skills on a daily basis to get things done and succeed.”
He’s also glad his work doesn’t pin him to a desk.
“I really enjoy being able to be outdoors and indoors all in the same job. As a power plant engineer, part of my job is done in your typical office setting, but a big part takes place outdoors walking around the plant, whether it’s troubleshooting equipment when something isn’t working properly or simply learning about existing equipment. It’s a great way to remain physically active and productive all in one.”
This is a sector that will soon need many new engineers to fill these walking shoes.
“The industry’s job outlook is very promising in the near future. Many positions will become available due to retirements, and this is one of those jobs that can’t be outsourced overseas, since the industry needs engineers to be physically present at the power plants [where] they work.”
Head to pseg.com/info/careers/index.jsp to find PSEG career opportunities. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) is a publicly traded (NYSE:PEG) diversified energy company headquartered in New Jersey, and one of the 10 largest electric companies in the U.S. Its family of companies includes PSEG, PSE&G, PSEG Power LLC, PSEG Services and PSEG Long Island.
» Feedback for the Editor
» Request Article Copy