Hispanic Career World
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Fueled with Energy
In 2013 the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that approximately 17 percent of the U.S. population was of Hispanic origin and that number is expected to double in the next 45 to 50 years. As the nation’s largest ethnic group, Hispanics play a major role in determining our energy future - as consumers, as well as industry professionals.
They’re charging into a changing industry. Not only do there continue to be job opportunities in traditional energy sectors - oil, gas and electric, for example - but also in new energy sectors such as renewables.
A study from the Brookings Institution notes that the clean economy - defined as the sector of the economy that produces goods and services with an environmental benefit - has shown great growth in the first two decades of this century. And it continues to provide a wide swath of jobs and plenty of long-term career potential.
Plus, maintaining energy grids, generating new energy sources and integrating new technologies open the door for a diverse array of professionals, especially Hispanics.
The four individuals in the energy industry featured here have found this to be true. They tell their stories from the perspective of each having found a company that specializes in extravagant welcomes to a diversified workforce.
Though they bring different skills to their careers, they're bound by the one thing they have in common: they love what they do where they’re doing it.
Porter Champions Diversity & Fairness at DTE Energy
Antoinette Star Porter, manager of employment and labor for DTE Energy feels “extremely lucky to be part of a company that strives to not only welcome, but to also celebrate diversity,” especially since the company’s commitment to diversity is long and deep.
And her work there dovetails with DTE’s mission “to be the best-operated energy company in North America, and a force for growth and prosperity in the communities where we live and serve.”
She wanted to work for a company that was committed to doing right by employees, so that no one would experience discrimination. “DTE Energy’s commitment to employee engagement was the perfect fit for my vision. And after seven years, I still find coming to work exciting and rewarding.”
But before coming to DTE Energy, Porter explains, “I was a plaintiff’s attorney, representing employees who had been discriminated against or harassed by their employers.”
It was after completing her MBA, with certification in human resources, she made the decision to join a company willing to take a proactive approach to employment issues.
Porter is now an in-house employment lawyer whose responsibilities include overseeing the attorneys, paralegals and other staff responsible for employment litigation and advice for DTE Energy.
She advises leaders and human resources personnel on employment issues, and is the subject matter expert for the company’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) committee. As an advisor on matters of diversity and inclusion, she participates on the general counsel office’s diversity committee.
She also co-leads DTE Energy’s summer talent exposure program (STEP). STEP provides underrepresented college students with unique opportunities to develop their individual talents and to experience a professional, corporate environment.
The STEP team invests time and resources to make the students’ summer intern experience as rewarding as possible, offering opportunities, such as individual mentoring, operations exposure, resume and interview workshops, financial literacy education and more.
“Additionally,” she says, “I’m a part of the steering committee for ‘Somos DTE,’ supported by DTE’s diversity and inclusion group. The purpose statement reads, ‘Somos DTE - ‘We are creating a supportive community within DTE Energy that celebrates the cultural diversity and contributions of our Latino community and that positions DTE Energy as an employer of choice that attracts, develops and retains Latino/Hispanic talent.’”
In addition to work accomplishments, Porter takes pride in becoming the first Latina president of the Detroit Bar Association’s Barristers in 2012. She currently serves on the executive board for the Detroit Bar Association, and is actively involved with the school partnership program, bringing exposure of legal careers and issues to students, and partnering with Third Circuit Court to bring 300 Detroit high school students to “Law Day.”
When asked to share what qualities from her Hispanic roots prepared her for the workplace, she responds, “A love of community, gratitude for opportunities granted to me and a strong work ethic.”
Porter’s mother is Mexican and her dad, mostly Italian. “Something I try to stress as a Latina professional, is that being Hispanic/Latina means a wide variety of things,” Porter says.
She’s also vocal with her mentees about the pressure that light-skinned Latinas like herself sometimes experience to “prove” their ethnicity, especially if they don’t speak Spanish as a primary language.
“I’ve been in a group where individuals complained that there was no minority representation. That was a hurtful experience, but I realized I didn't fit those individuals' stereotypes of what a Latina should look like and, instead, I used the opportunity to educate them on my background and the diversity of our community.”
The mentees in her various programs are required to write down a vision of their dream job. Some choose a career based on what it looks like from the outside, Porter says, then become disappointed by the actual day-to-day work involved.
“I encourage individuals to think of what activities they’re good at and they love to do. Then ask whether a business needs that work. If the answer is yes, then there’s a way to get paid for it,” says Porter.
“For me, my dream job was to be in a job where I could provide training and expertise to make people’s lives better at work. After getting the education and experience to validate my passion, I found a company that valued my skills…and now I get paid to do what I love.”
Dive into newlook.dteenergy.com/wps/wcm/connect/dte-web/dte-pages/careers for DTE careers. Connect on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Power Provider: DTE Energy
Headquarters: Detroit, MI
Fast Fact: 10,000-plus employees
Alabama Power’s Gonzalez Keeps the Power On
As a lineman at Alabama Power, power delivery, Jorge Antonio Gonzalez’s responsibilities include working with his team to install, repair and maintain electrical power lines.
Beyond that, he and his team are responsible for logistics, traffic control, problem-solving and, most importantly, the safety of themselves and others. Additionally, they must provide excellent customer service.
“Because we’re out in the field working, many times we’re the face of Alabama Power for our customers, which is a big responsibility in itself,” Gonzalez says.
Spanish-speaking and born in Houston, TX with Mexican-American parents, he can provide translation for Spanish-speaking customers.
Especially when the power is out, he says, “everyone wants to know why it’s out and how long before it comes on. This way I can help out and say, ‘The power will be out for two or three hours. Maybe you want to turn off your computer.’”
Alabama Power attracted him because of the way the utility treats its employees. “The company makes you feel like family, and you’re treated with respect and know your work is appreciated every day,” he says.
“Because of Alabama Power’s emphasis on safety, I know that my safety and the safety of my teammates is always a priority.”
Alabama Power’s mission is to provide its 1.4 million customers with safe, reliable and affordable energy to homes, businesses and industries across Alabama.
“As a lineman,” Gonzalez says, “we execute this mission by working as a team to provide excellent customer service safely and efficiently. We want to be the best at what we do, and we work hard every day to achieve this.”
A career like this provides stability and a chance to work in an exciting field, Gonzalez says. “While working as a lineman is demanding, requires a lot of hard work and is potentially dangerous, it’s also very rewarding. There’s a sense of pride and accomplishment every time you restore power to a neighborhood or have a customer thank you for your hard work.”
Gonzalez was late starting in his career as a lineman. So he encourages others to start their career as early as possible.
“This is a great job for someone that isn’t exactly sure if a four-year degree is the right route for them,” he adds. And he appreciates how the company helps its employees move ahead in their careers by providing training and other opportunities.
“I’m blessed to work for a company that provides training opportunities and will invest in furthering your education as you work toward a degree. It’s also important to know that being a lineman can lead to other jobs within the company. Having the experience of working on a line crew can provide you with the skills you need for other jobs in the future,” Gonazalez points out.
“I’m grateful and give thanks every day for the opportunity to work for an amazing company that cares about the safety and well-being of its employees. This job requires long hours and times when you’re on call and have to work at night or on the weekends. But it feels good when you’re able to help others and know the work you do is helping our customers. I don’t take any of it for granted.”
Access alabamapower.com/our-company/careers.html for Alabama Power careers. Connect on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Power Provider: Alabama Power
Headquarters: Birmingham, AL
Fast Fact: Founded 1906, a subsidiary of Atlanta, GA-based Southern Company
Rodriguez’s Team Executes Regulatory Policy for Entergy TX
Deanna Rodriguez, vice president, regulatory and public affairs at Entergy Texas, leads a team of professionals responsible for planning and executing regulatory policy and regulatory filings for Entergy Texas.
“In other words, I oversee the group that represents the company before our regulator and the Texas legislature,” she details.
She was attracted to Entergy for a number of reasons. “From an industry standpoint, I was attracted to the fact that the utility touches every part of our economy. It touches a range of customers from residential to small commercial and industrial. Little can be done without electricity,” Rodriguez shares.
“I would say the most interesting project for me also happened to be the most meaningful one. I coordinated the regulatory application efforts to get Congressional Block Grant Funding monies to the Entergy operating companies and communities that were impacted by Hurricane Katrina. I worked with experts and discovered a precedent set by the Congress and used by Con Edison in New York City after the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001,” she recalls.
“This resulted in over $200 million in funding, allowing Entergy New Orleans, Entergy Louisiana and Entergy Mississippi to provide critical electric service to the areas devastated by the storms. It was an honor to have been on the team that worked on this monumental task.”
The mission of this company to provide safe, reliable and affordable power to its customers was played out during those dark days of Katrina, and now in the days and months following Hurricane Harvey.
Hispanics seeking a similar career should view a chance in the utility industry as a way to have a number of careers in one area, advises Rodriguez.
“The industry is so varied and needs more than engineers and technical experts. A person can explore finance, legal, human resources and communications functions within the utility. There’s no better industry!” she concludes.
See entergy.com/Careers for Entergy TX careers. Connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Power Provider: Entergy Texas
Headquarters: Beaumont and The Woodlands, TX
Fast Fact: Serves 27 counties in Texas as part of New Orleans, LA-based Entergy Corporation
Donato-Galindo’s Outreach Efforts Strengthen BGE’s Relationships
Faviola Donato-Galindo’s role as senior external affairs specialist, governmental and external affairs covers a broad range of responsibilities at Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE).
Primarily, she explains, she works to identify, develop and strengthen relationships with external stakeholders in the city of Baltimore, MD to support the company’s efforts of delivering excellent customer service and safe, reliable power.
“I’m part of a team that plays an important part in supporting the company’s strategy of external engagement with the community by discussing new and existing projects. The outreach work with our communities seeks to build relationships that foster trust and understanding of the work we want to accomplish,” Donato-Galindo says.
Before joining BGE she worked in the public and non-profit sectors; her academic background is in public administration. Along the way she realized she wanted change - a chance to experience working in a corporate environment.
“BGE treats employees extremely well and offered me a position where I could leverage existing relationships with external stakeholders,” she points out.
BGE’s mission is to work safely, provide excellent customer service, innovate with intent and purpose, and ensure a diverse and inclusive workplace.
Donato-Galindo’s advice to Hispanic applicants wanting to enter her field is to be able to “adapt to changes and be flexible. The nature of this work is engaging people that have varying goals and points of view. Be open to opportunities where you can demonstrate critical thinking skills and leadership. Lastly, be aware that knowing the right questions to ask is often more valuable than having all of the answers.”
To illustrate this point, she shares that, as part of her work, she meets with multiple stakeholders, including neighborhood development organizations.
“Recently,” she relates, “I met with a neighborhood organization interested in learning about projects in their area and ways they could partner with BGE. During our conversation, the organization’s representatives brought up many issues ranging from economic development in their Main Street corridor to safety enhancements,” Donato-Galindo describes.
“Their expectation was for me to provide answers to all of their individual inquiries. Instead of initially providing individual answers, I began asking questions about their specific neighborhood initiatives, goals and projects.”
Once they provided those responses to her, she had a better understanding of their intent, and was able to show them many of BGE's efforts were already aligned with their priorities. “By asking the right questions, I was able to help them to understand that many of our efforts correspond closely with theirs,” Donato-Galindo says.
Another piece of advice she tenders is to try to find an employer who offers opportunities for personal and professional growth, and make the most of them. BGE, she says, is one that values talent development.
“When I joined the company, I took advantage by participating in many professional development opportunities. For example, I joined employee resource groups that support the company’s diverse and inclusive environment. I now lead the Baltimore chapter of the Organization of Latinos (OLE’) at Exelon, [BGE’s parent company],” she indicates.
“This has given me an opportunity to strengthen leadership skills, gain greater visibility and cultivate strategic relationships, internally and externally, with key groups and individuals.”
See bge.com/AboutUs/Pages/Careers.aspx for BGE careers. Connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.
Power Provider: BGE
Headquarters: Baltimore, MD
Fast Fact: First gas utility in the U.S. with 200-plus years of service, now a subsidiary of Chicago, IL-based Exelon Corporation
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