If you want to advance in the energy industry, don’t be afraid to wave your flag

 In Cleantech, Technica News

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 fulfil 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.