If You Want to Advance in the Energy Industry, Don’t Be Afraid to Wave Your Flag

On Wednesday, January 24 during a DistribuTECH networking breakfast, panelists — 3 women from the energy industry — described how they had overcome challenges and made sure that their careers advanced in the directions that they wanted to go.

“The learn-it-all is always going to come out ahead of the know-it-all,” said Carolyn Shellman, Chief Legal & Administrative Officer with CPS Energy, referencing the CEO of Microsoft who first offered that piece of advice. She said asking questions and listening is extremely important when starting in a new company or a new job.

Lisa Ann Pinkerton, founder of an organization called Women in Clean Tech and Sustainability explained the importance of prioritizing tasks that are important and letting low-priority work take a backseat.

“I learned that being the hardest worker who stays the latest isn’t always the one that gets ahead,” said Nancy Bui-Thompson, Director at Public Consulting Group and an elected member of the board of directors of SMUD.

Bui-Thompson said she realized that the people who were advancing ahead of her, often men, happened to be very good at telling their managers what they had accomplished. Men are very good at talking about the good they have done for a company, she said.

“You have to raise your own flag.”

Pinkerton added that as a communications agency, she gives status reports to her companies and suggested that everyone do the same on their own achievements. She said this activity will help people gain confidence in what they have done.

Also, ask for what you want and then prove that you are worth it. Bui-Thompson said that going into an annual review seeking a raise on the basis of you “working hard” isn’t enough. Again, this is why she said people need to keep track of the work they have done so that when review time comes up, they can prove they are worth the promotion, new project or big raise that they are seeking.

Shellman also advised folks to look ahead 5, 10, 15 years as best as they can to try to anticipate what skills or traits they will need to fulfill the jobs of the future. Indeed, the utility industry is undergoing rapid transformation and many of the jobs that exist at utilities today will be quite different in the future.

“You all are going to see a much quicker acceleration of change and it is going to be very different,” she said. “Be a futurist.”

The Women in Utilities breakfast takes place each year at DistribuTECH.

Lead image credit: CC0 Creative Commons | Pixabay

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Jennifer Runyon
Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com Today, in addition to managing content on Renewable Energy World and POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference and expo for the transmission and distribution industry. In her role, she works in close cooperation with a large team of committed industry executives to shape the educational content for the event. She also helps assemble the renewable energy content for POWERGEN and helped launch the first Grid-Scale Storage Summit, a co-located event at HYDROVISION International. She has traveled to Germany to see onshore and offshore wind installations; Iceland to see geothermal energy in action; and France to see cutting-edge smart grids. In the U.S. she has visited and reported about bioenergy power plants in Florida, both large-scale and small-scale hydropower; and multiple wind farms, solar PV, and CSP installations. Formerly, she was the managing editor of Innovate Forum, an online publication that focused on innovation in manufacturing. Prior to that she was the managing editor at Desktop Engineering magazine. In 2008, she won an "Eddy Award" for her editing work on an article about solar trees in Vienna. In 2010, RenewableEnergyWorld.com was awarded an American Business Media Neal Award for its eNewsletters, which were created under her direction. She holds a Master's Degree in English Education from Boston University and a BA in English from the University of Virginia.

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