SUSTAINABILITY NEWS

 

Perspectives on Leadership and Diversity

Three of our utilities, ITC, UNS Energy and FortisTCI, have female Presidents. Learn about their paths to success and as well as their personal perspective on what lies ahead in the utility industry.

  • People

Three of the ten Fortis utilities, ITC, UNS Energy and FortisTCI, have female Presidents. Two of these Presidents and CEOs shared their thoughts on leadership and diversity and offered their best career advice on page 50 of our 2020 Sustainability Report.


Linda Apsey, President and CEO of ITC

Linda Apsey, President and CEO of ITC


Ruth Forbes, President and CEO of FortisTCI

Ruth Forbes, President and CEO of FortisTCI


What is your approach to leadership?

Linda: Leadership is certainly dynamic, requiring self-awareness to recognize and leverage the appropriate leadership style, skills and attributes at the appropriate time. However, I certainly am a strong believer in transformational leadership – leading through inspiration and conviction, with a shared vision of success and connecting everyone in the organization through communication, collaboration, accountability and recognition.

Ruth: I strive to be a servant leader by setting an example and empowering everyone on the team who works to make everything happen. My approach is collaborative and inclusive, because it’s important to me that others feel valued and that their contributions matter. I value a diverse mix of ideas and perspectives and working together to find the best solutions and for the right reasons.

Historically, the North American utility industry has been male dominated. How have you been successful in finding your path and becoming a utility executive?

Linda: There is no doubt this industry remains male dominated at the executive level, and breaking through as a female CEO, or fitting in amongst predominantly male CEO’s is challenging. However, I see progress and I see commitment and effort. That is an important first step, but it demonstrates the need for much more inclusion and diversity in all aspects of our workplace, in order to break down the historical barriers, the norms, and the unconscious bias that exists.

My journey to becoming a female CEO is perhaps characterized by my want and desire to always strive to do more, ready for the next challenge, demonstrated results and success with each opportunity, building relationships along the way, and to truly understand what it means to be a successful leader in each stage of your career. Every experience yielded opportunities for personal growth, which in turn provides opportunities for career growth.

Ruth: For me, finding my path has been as a result of a combination of factors. First, my faith, foundation, and family support have enabled me to strive to be the best version of myself. Secondly, my personal commitment to working hard and with integrity. Thirdly, throughout all my years in the utility business, I have been fortunate to work with some of the brightest, most dedicated and hardworking persons, and the team effort has always been exceptional.

For many years, I was the only woman on the executive team. What I have been able to achieve at that level and in my various leadership roles, has been due to the inclusive ethos of my colleagues and former CEO, which they have been diligent about spreading across the company. With this approach, and the nurturing I received throughout the years, I am among the 35% of women who make up our senior management team at FortisTCI.

What lies ahead for your utility? What are the greatest opportunities?

Linda: Despite advancements, much work remains to increase the representation on both gender and race diversity. We need to do more, starting with supporting our communities and schools to develop the confidence, skills and talent with our future workforce. We need to find new ways and more ways to recruit both women and minorities to our industry. We need to do more to develop the potential, the talent, and the opportunities for our women and minorities already at ITC. Change and progress can only occur when there is receptivity and an open mindset, leadership to effectuate change, and commitment to sustain it.

Ruth: We see great opportunities in current renewable energy sources such as solar, and whatever becomes available in the future that is affordable, reliable, sustainable and suitable for our island economy. We see the electrification of the transportation sector in the TCI as another great prospect, which is why we have launched a pilot program that studies the impact of electric vehicles on our grid. We also launched a battery storage pilot program to study this technology and explore the opportunities ahead. These initiatives are in keeping with the Resilient National Energy Transition Strategy, a blueprint for TCI’s energy transformation up to 2040.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self early on in your career?

Linda: After graduating from university, I always envisioned living and working in downtown Chicago. I wanted something different than how I was raised. I wanted to live the city life, the single life, a fastpaced work environment, and be independent and on my own. But my own fears stood in the way. I didn’t know anyone in Chicago, and what if I couldn’t find a job, what if I couldn’t afford it, what if it didn’t work out. All this competing with a known job and steady income with a reputable company, not to mention the many friends and family nearby.

In retrospect, taking measured risk and having confidence in myself, would have allowed me to live and experience my one regret in life. And knowing and understanding a lot more of myself, my initiative, my dedication, and my ability to “figure things out”, I undoubtedly know I would have been successful.

Ruth: Speaking to my younger self, I would say be more deliberate about finding your voice and don't be afraid to use it, because your outlook and uniqueness matter. Respectfully speaking your mind permits others to do the same without fear of judgment or ridicule.

I would also say do not underestimate your abilities, and always stay true to yourself and your core values. You do not need to pretend to be someone that you are not. Others will see through the act.

It's important, particularly as a woman, to take a holistic view of your life and the life you want to build, because your career should fit into that chosen life. Making these conscious decisions will give you the space needed to excel in all areas.

Lastly, I would say lighten up. It's good to laugh at yourself sometimes. Take the time to celebrate even the smallest victories. You are supposed to enjoy the journey and embrace the failures along the way because they, too, will lead to your happiness and overall fulfilment

September 04 2020
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