August 2020 Tiffany Reese

Elaborate on your role with SouthStar Energy. What are your responsibilities?

I am the B2B Marketing Specialist for SouthStar Energy (Florida Natural Gas). In that capacity I am responsible for the marketing strategy and subsequent communications – my role is really a marrying of creative strategic concepting and operational execution. I look for opportunities for SouthStar (Florida Natural Gas) to grow in the market – factoring in many competing elements – and right now that includes Covid-19. I look at the end-game so that I can allocate our marketing budget to ensure our well-planned campaigns result in big wins for SouthStar (Florida Natural Gas) – handling everything from mailers to website revamps. Because we are a marketer that funnels into a larger, more brand-aware organization, there can be challenges in balancing our footprint with our end users’ needs – but that’s what makes every day exciting. I get to think big about how SouthStar (Florida Natural Gas) can grow and mature in the market, and take a hand in shaping how our position can have a greater, more positive impact on our clients’ business and our collective future.

You did not begin your career in energy. What educational background, professional positions led you to your current position?

My position at SouthStar was an unexpected opportunity. Prior to this, I developed my skillset through several positions that provided workstreams that I’ve now been able to coalesce at SouthStar, including working with print and visual merchandising at the Home Depot, advertising and marketing at The Coca-Cola Company and packaging and delivery at UPS. SouthStar has given me the opportunity to use my whole toolbox of skills and learn some new ones. Also, I was fortunate enough to attend an HBCU, Spelman College, which I credit with preparing me for every opportunity and challenge I’ve met in my career. It provided a foundation I draw upon still today.

Based upon your own personal experiences in your profession, what has been the biggest challenge you have faced or lesson you have learned?

One of the most important lessons that I’ve learned is life is not a straight line. There is learning, opportunity and growth in the detours and obstacles that you encounter if you are willing to adjust your perspective.

In your opinion, is the industry taking more steps to provide professional advancement for minorities and women?

I feel that now more than ever there are tremendous opportunities for minorities and women. I think that our company is a leader in the industry when it comes to diversity and inclusion for their response on advancing women and minorities. There is still more work to be done to diversify the industry workforce, but I think there have been significant inroads made. The women featured in the “Florida’s Women in Energy Leadership Forum”  (FWELF), illustrates the advancements being made industry-wide.

In your role, communication and ability to form trust and credibility are critical.  What advice do you give to young professionals about networking and collegiality?

I think that young professionals should seek out mentors in their field of interest. It is beneficial to both personal and professional development to build a network of people who can provide insight and real-life, real-time feedback, including constructive criticism. With that said, there’s no doubt we all benefit from positive feedback, but sometimes it takes a trusted ally to tell you how you can grow, where you need to improve and what more is possible. So, you need more than just the positive, otherwise you will not grow. Find people who inspire you and they will by example and dialogue, teach you to inspire yourself – one day you’ll be someone else’s mentor and you want to be in the right mindset to share the value of your own experiences when that time comes.

What advice would you give to a 2nd year college student deciding on a career path?

My advice to college students would be always be receptive to change. When I graduated, I pictured my career much differently than it turned out. I kept an open mind and learned from the detours that I encountered. The reality is that we don’t always get what we imagined – and many times, that’s a good thing. What happens while you’re planning can sometimes become the best plan of all. You create your future every day with what you choose to do, what you learn, how you develop – and the best part of it all, is that the only limitations in this world are the ones you place on yourself. If you can dream it – you really can achieve it. The world is waiting for your contribution – make sure it’s worthy of the legacy you want to leave. Be known for what you do and who you are – whatever that ends up being.

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