What inspired you to join the energy industry?
I was inspired by a great job prospect, which grew into a fascinating career in the energy industry. I started my career at Florida City Gas in the accounting unit, and expanded to opportunities in regulatory, external affairs and operations.
Can you tell us about your current role?
As vice president of operations and general manager, I oversee the day-to-day operations, compliance, growth and safety aspects of FCG, a natural gas distribution company serving approximately 110,000 natural gas customers in Florida’s Miami-Dade, Brevard, St. Lucie, and Indian River counties.
How would you say the energy industry has changed since you stepped in your role?
Of course technology is the biggest change. We’ve come a long way from paper and pencil. Fortunately, more and more women are assuming high positions at energy companies. Historically at FCG, women held leadership roles. I was inspired by a female vice president early in my career, whom I saw struggle in a primarily male dominated industry. She worked through it, and her influence in the company grew steadily. She inspired all of us who worked with her. I was fortunate to come into the industry in a company with women role models.
What is the most memorable lesson or skill that you have learned in the energy industry?
Embracing and accepting change. This is the most valuable skill you can have in any industry. In our fast-paced, ever-changing environment, I’ve had to learn to balance changing corporate cultures with the slower pace of the natural gas industry. At end of day, we are committed to delivering safe and reliable service to our customers.
“Embracing and accepting change. This is the most valuable skill you can have in any industry.”
What advice would you give to other women who aspire to join the energy industry?
First, I’d tell women not to be discouraged if they are interested in an industry that’s predominantly male. In the energy sector, there are great opportunities for women. We bring different perspectives. The more diverse the talent, including people from different backgrounds – the stronger the industry.
What is a challenge that you have been proud to see the industry overcome?
I’m proud to see the industry becoming more diverse and inclusive. It was more common to see female officers in Communication or Human Resources, but seldom did you see them managing Operations. Now, there are several examples of women reaching top executive and management levels.
Now that NextEra has announced the acquisition of Florida City Gas, what opportunities has this afforded you and the Florida City Gas team?
Joining NextEra Energy – the world’s largest utility company – allows us to be part of something bigger. We’re excited. And, we’re proud to be built in Florida and based in America.
Are there workforce challenges in the natural gas industry that do not exist in electric?
We face similar challenges. The energy sector as a whole is facing an aging workforce. For the first time in American history, the number of young workers entering the labor market will not replace those who are leaving. This makes recruiting and retaining talented individuals critical to our business.
“For the first time in American history, the number of young workers entering the labor market will not replace those who are leaving.”
You recently received approval for the construction and implementation of Florida’s first utility-owned LNG facility. What advantages does this provide to Florida?
Demand for natural gas continues to increase as more residents and business owners use it to cook food and heat water. To meet increased demand, we are developing an innovative liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage facility in Miami-Dade County. The LNG facility would allow us to continue delivering natural gas reliably following emergencies – like hurricanes – and to meet an expected increase in demand for natural gas in the coming years. Critical community services in Miami-Dade County, such as emergency operations centers, hospitals and water treatment facilities, rely on natural gas from Florida City Gas to serve our community in the immediate aftermath of hurricanes.
Describe the energy industry using one word, and share with us why you chose this word.
The industry is stepping up to meet the demands for cleaner energy and improved reliability. And, the safety of our community continues to be our highest priority.