I recently had the opportunity to attend and speak at the E Source conference in Denver. It was really exciting to be surrounded by innovators in our industry, all of whom shared a common goal of improving the ways customers engage with utilities. A true highlight was speaking on the 4th Annual Women in Energy panel. I had the chance to work with fellow panelists Alexis Atwood Badder and Wendy Rockwell, along with Lisa Markus from E Source. The panel was built around the concept of the popular NPR Podcast “How I Built This”. Panelists were invited to share a “build story” of bringing an innovation to fruition. I chose to re-frame the concept slightly as “How We’re Building This” (who can say honestly that they built something substantial alone?), and I shared EMI’s new and evolving framework for transforming customer relationships in the utility industry. The framework borrows heavily from my background working with companies across industries in times of high transformation, and facing heavy regulation – think wireless, health care, and insurance to start. Our framework draws examples of innovative offerings from outside the utility industry—and also from international, deregulated utilities—that materially shift and strengthen customer relationships. These examples are designed to serve as fire starters for innovation, inspiring new ways of thinking about existing business problems.
In many ways, my experience on the Women in Energy panel resembles our Customer Transformation model in that the panel brought cross-industry thinking to serve as inspiration for new developments. My fellow panelists came from non-utility environments, and shared stories that inspired me and all the participants to think differently about how we approach our career development, our fears, and our approach to mentoring our teams. The most provocative and resonant comment for me came from an audience member who asked the panel if they agreed with the statement that women are over-mentored and under-sponsored. That was a moment of lightning bolt clarity for me: It’s not enough to simply mentor, or hand down guidance. We need to be opening doors and giving a hand up to women who are newer in their careers, or who hail from under-represented groups. While I have worked hard to both mentor and sponsor women across the arc of my career, I had not stopped to consider how ineffective and downright patronizing a mentoring relationship can be if mentors are not willing to stick their necks out and act as true sponsors. A powerful clarification.
At EMI, we have long believed that a cross-disciplinary approach brings greater insight and benefit to our client work. Our Customer Transformation model extends this thinking to harness the benefits of cross-industry approaches. I appreciated the opportunity to share the model, and our story around it, at E Source, and I look forward to continuing the conversation with you. If you’re curious to learn more, let us know and we’ll schedule a time to connect!