By Kimberly M. Smith, Piedmont Natural Gas
Energetic Women is an organization with an important mission: “To increase the pool of promotable women in Energy Operations and Engineering.” As “Our Values Statement” notes, we will always:
- Communicate in a positive manner
- Provide an encouraging and supportive environment
- Respect each other’s diverse experiences, background and contribution
- Encourage collaborative, inclusive and professional dialog
The launch of Energetic Women was first publicized via the June 2007 Midwest Energy Alliance (MEA) Energy Delivery News & Solutions eNewsletter, in an article with the same title as this Viewpoint:
“Ladies of the Energy Industry Unite! (MEA Announces NEW “Energetic Women” Group!)”
Fast-forward six years and it’s easy to see that we’ve grown to be much more than a newsletter item. A partial list of our activities/milestones includes:
- Hosting the 6th Annual Energetic Women conference this year (June 12 -14, in Baltimore, MD)
- Hosting bi-monthly Webinars on various topics
- Providing articles on leadership and development
- Providing tools for mentorship
- Providing online leadership training
- Inspiring book clubs/reading recommendations
- Having a LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter presence
- Exceeding expected participation and sponsorship
What does Energetic Women mean to me? First, it’s a confidence-building organization. It is also a growing movement—one that’s expanding as we learn more about what women are seeking in the areas of leadership and development while working for a utility company. The tools we offer, however, are useful and meaningful to women seeking advancement or enhanced skills in their current roles, regardless of industry sector.
As a woman working in the utility operations field for 10+ years, my experience has been somewhat different from that of others who came before me. I’ve been able to actually see, know and work alongside a number of women who have become professional engineers. Though this pool may be small, I realize that I was blessed with an opportunity early in my career that many never have.
The reality is that more times than I care to admit in the course of my work, I’ve been the only woman at the table with an engineering background. I want that to change. Since becoming involved with Energetic Women, I’ve begun leveraging tools provided by the organization to guide my steps as I “Lean In” and try to be an example to other women with interest in engineering and operations.
Although increasing numbers of women have begun venturing into roles traditionally held by men, Energetic Women will continue to inspire and support women in the utility industry. Over time, we hope more and more women will say they chose to pursue engineering and operations paths based on utilization of the networks, training, mentors and tools our organization built to pave the way to career development, advancement and success.
Energetic Women today is the beginning of what may be the future of utility operations training and development—for both women and men. I invite you to visit us at www.energeticwomen.org. MT
Kimberly Smith is Operations Supervisor for Piedmont Natural Gas, in Charlotte, NC. A mechanical engineer, she also serves as Chair of the Energetic Women organization.