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The energy, gas, and utilities sectors serve up evolving and exciting innovation while delivering steadfast job satisfaction and success.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Baby Boomers held 11.7 jobs between ages 18 and 48. That’s a new job every 2.6 years. BLS also reports that Millennials average a new job every 2.2 years.
However, there are sectors where job security and longevity still exist, where living wages are still paid, and where half of the Fortune 500 companies within these sectors still offer pensions to new employees. Those are the utility, gas and oil sectors, all falling under energy.
And what you may not also realize about them is that there’s much energetic innovation in all of them. In fact, they’re becoming ever more efficient and extracting energy from ever more sources.
These energy sectors are fueling the future, so they need talent as many who’ve spent their careers within these sectors at the same companies for decades are retiring. And why did these employees stay so long? Two words: job satisfaction!
Meet four energy industry workers who work in gas, utilities and oil that have found their own steadfast job satisfaction. Become inspired by the stories of these energetic employees radiating success and fueling their own futures.
Bonilla Networks His Way to a Leadership Role at Georgia Power
For Luis Bonilla III, maintenance manager, Georgia Power Plant Scherer, sending his colleagues home to their families at the end of each day is a day well done.
“I have the opportunity to influence people’s careers and personal development. Some days are long days, but as long as we all get to go home to our families safely, it’s a rewarding day,” he point out.
In fact, safety is priority number one for Bonilla and his team. “I lead an amazing group of individuals that execute Georgia Power plant maintenance activities to ensure the generation of safe, reliable and affordable energy for our customers and owners.”
That team consists of 10 leaders and 100-plus maintenance employees who keep one of the largest power plants in the nation humming.
“Team members include instrumentation and control technicians, maintenance specialists, condition-base maintenance specialists, contract coordinators and IBEW union employees (mechanics and electricians),” details Bonilla.
“We have a great team, and we were honored to have our plant awarded the 2017 Powder River Basin Coal Users’ Group Plant of the Year.”
However, once upon a time not that long ago, this entrusted leader was a nervous new hire.
“I’ll never forget my transition from a working college student in Puerto Rico to a Georgia Power employee in Cartersville, GA. During Winter 2005, with no family, I relocated to a location an hour away from metro Atlanta, GA. It was hard, challenging and scary,” he recalls.
So what steadied Bonilla? “The maturity I gained in the military, the warm welcome I received from the Georgia Power family, the amazing welcome of the AMIGOS (Georgia Power’s Hispanic employee resource group), and the unconditional support of my wife and family through the years made it all less difficult,” he answers.
Bonilla urges you, too, to build your support networks: “In all aspects of life, personal and professional, it’s important to build a strong support system you can trust that will help you navigate those inevitable challenging times.”
You can further follow Bonilla’s lead and embrace challenges.
“I love the always challenging, forever-changing, day-to-day operations. When that combines with the company’s employee-oriented culture, and always having a customer-driven attitude, it makes this one of the best companies to work for,” asserts Bonilla.
Georgia Power’s internal networks also make it a great place to work. “Thanks to the employee resource groups, I’ve gotten to know amazing people in other business units (power delivery, sales, marketing, environmental affairs),” he notes.
If you want to work alongside Bonilla and are still in school, then get busy.
“This is not a sector to try and see if it works. Use the available technology to research the industry, including what’s happening with current legislation/regulation around the energy sector, [and] seek internships and co-op opportunities,” Bonilla urges.
“Be a member of at least three student organizations (ASME, IEEE, PES and SHPE, for me), and work to attend their national conferences and school events.”
And don’t simply settle for a job, Bonilla adds.
“Don’t be on the lookout for a job; seek a career. Start early on, go to job fairs and conferences offered by student organizations. If you’re truly interested, then you’ll find companies (or fields of work) you’re passionate about. This will help jump-start a successful career.”
Georgia Power is headquartered in Atlanta, GA. Learn more through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. Surf careers at georgiapower.com/company/careers.html.
Dominion Energy’s Garcia Takes a Chance & Makes a Difference
Alexandra Garcia, project engineer, Dominion Energy, is the fine apple that didn’t fall far from the tree.
“My father started a pro-bono initiative with his company, Pura Energia, a residential and commercial solar power installation company in Puerto Rico, to install solar panels and residential micro grids in different locations after Hurricane Maria hit to provide an ‘energy oasis’ to multiple communities in need,” Garcia describes.
So his daughter stepped up, too. “They were in need of materials, especially solar panels, so I reached out to Dominion executives. I just wanted a contact for a solar panel manufacturer or supplier. (The plan was to ask them to donate the panels),” she explains.
Dominion exceeded Garcia’s hopes. “Everyone I reached out to was incredibly supportive. They mobilized immediately, formed a Puerto Rico relief team with the Hispanic resource group HOLA!, and, within days, we had over 50 KW worth of solar panels ready to ship out,” she recalls.
Dominion didn’t just send panels after the hurricane last year. It also sent 80 restoration crews and bucket trucks for four weeks. Dominion sent Garcia, too.
“They allowed me to work remotely from Puerto Rico so I could fulfill my desire to help there, as well,” she points out.
HOLA! is just one of Dominion Energy’s employee resource groups aimed at creating avenues where employees can engage, collaborate, network, and contribute to company and community initiatives. It hosts community and diversity events, holds financial literacy awareness sessions and helps with company recruitment efforts. Members also share their experiences as a learning tool.
“I like the different avenues for personal and professional development here,” Garcia notes.
“I’m pursuing a master’s degree, serving as wellness ambassador and vice chair in our Hispanic resource group, and enjoying the freedom of pursuing career changes within the company.”
Garcia currently provides technical support during the development, planning and execution of Dominion Energy’s Virginia-based nuclear power stations’ subsequent license renewal projects.
“I often get asked how a young lady from Puerto Rico ended up in a nuclear power plant in Virginia. My parents are both engineers, so I didn’t consider anything else,” she shares.
Dominion Energy reached out to the engineer in training. “I completed my chemical engineering degree at the University of Puerto Rico where Dominion Energy has a strong recruiting presence. I was brought on board as an intern for the company during my sophomore year,” she elaborates.
Garcia’s most transformative moment at Dominion Energy was summoning the courage to ask its executives to help Puerto Rico.
“It was the scariest thing I’ve done as a young professional, but it gave me confidence and solidified my drive toward doing the right thing. I gained respect and a deep sense of accomplishment (although the work is never done),” Garcia recounts.
It also solidified her sense that she’s in the perfect place. “That experience taught me that I know I’m where I’m supposed to be.”
And she’s not done changing the world. “I hope to pay it forward for someone else in a similar way in the future.”
If you, too, want to make a difference, Garcia tenders some advice: “Dominion Energy looks for a strong drive and desire to learn; everything else sort of falls into place if you bring the right attitude and are willing to accept feedback.”
Garcia has that drive. “Since starting this new position as project engineer, I’ve felt like the work day is not enough to catch up with everything I need to do and learn about. I answer one question and come up with another three. I enjoy that, though, because it keeps me engaged in a continuous learning and adaptation process. It builds character.”
At Dominion Energy, you won’t have to puzzle through every problem by yourself.
“I’m constantly surprised at how executives within the company are extremely busy, but always find time to interact with the workers, listen to our concerns and address certain issues with such high priority,” she says.
Dominion Energy is headquartered in Richmond, VA. Learn more via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube. Explore careers at careers.dominionenergy.com.
Phillips 66’s Rengifo Adapts to Ascend in His Career
Rafael Rengifo, a tank and facility integrity manager for Phillips 66 who was recently promoted to director of engineering, is quite clear about his company’s perpetual need for new hires.
“We’ll always need new/fresh talent, and we’ll always need to keep a critical mass of experienced employees as we see our seasoned contributors retiring,” he underscores.
Rengifo is grateful in many ways that he was hired.
“I love to live our values: safety, honor and commitment in every interaction, in every conversation, in every analysis, in every decision. I love the opportunities given to me, and the opportunities I’ve been honored and gifted to offer others. I love the empowerment, the agility and the diversity,” he shares.
One of 14,000 employees, Rengifo has been running a group as tank and facility integrity manager consisting of 11 employees and 12 contractors. His team completed integrity projects, while ensuring continuous risk reduction in support of safe and reliable operation of pipeline facilities that store, transport and distribute fuels across the U.S.
All of this required partnering, which Rengifo enjoys while never forgetting the big picture, which was his team’s “daily contributions to the mission of our company to provide energy and improve lives.”
And Rengifo realizes he’s part of tomorrow’s big picture, too. “I love the opportunity to shape the future based on our continuous research and evaluation of new technologies, and more efficient ways to do things.”
Perhaps, most of all, Rengifo loves to see his role forever expanding. “I love to see how my circle of influence continuously grows within the company, within the industry and within our communities.”
Rengifo has reached a fine place in his career, but there were challenges. For instance, when he moved to the U.S., he was assigned to an East Coast refinery. He had to adapt in myriad ways.
“Everything was different, from weather, language, culture, infrastructure and age, as well as processes, business objectives and market conditions,” he remembers.
Rengifo enjoyed the novelty and challenge, but worried about his performance at a critical stage of his career. He framed his struggle as an indicator of improvement and development: “I, thus, welcomed the struggle in a positive way, and shared that reflection with my supervisor and my team.”
He also identified his strengths. “I used them to compensate the areas where I was falling short due to the learning curve.”
And he kept his eyes down the road, while realizing each day’s gains. “I never lost sight of my goals and objectives, and no matter how hard any given day was, I was always finding little victories to celebrate, as I was one step closer to accomplishing my goals.”
Today Rengifo celebrates working at an innovative company powered by diversity. “We embrace inclusion and diversity because our most important asset is our people.”
If you’re just starting your career or seeking a career shift, Rengifo urges you to be proactive in interviews.
“Understand what you want and where you are going short- and long-term. Then interview your interviewers to see if there is a match.”
If you’re still in school, then squeeze as much learning as possible from each moment.
“Be curious, continuously seek to understand the technical fundamentals and other perspectives. Always ask questions to get the details that will help you to develop good judgment.”
And develop the nimbleness that will serve you in your career. “Be ready to face continuous change around you and within you.”
Plus, note how diverse experiences can help you thrive in a diverse world. “Travel and living in different countries helped me to embrace change, inclusion and diversity, and become a multicultural leader.”
Phillips 66 is headquartered in Houston, TX. Learn more via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and YouTube. Explore jobs at phillips66.jobs.
Gulf Power’s McMurphy Lights the Night & Saves the Day.
By day, Luis A. McMurphy, a Gulf Power distribution field engineer in Panama City Beach, FL, designs and estimates residential and commercial construction jobs to figure out how to get the power from our lines to the customer. However, by the dark of storms, McMurphy gets to be a local superhero, saving the day and restoring power and light.
“What I really enjoy the most is storm restoration trips and restoring power. There’s just something about helping people who have been without power. Seeing customers happy to get their power back on makes it all worth it,” he says.
However, it doesn’t take a storm for McMurphy to enjoy his work. “I enjoy everything about my job. I can honestly say that I look forward to going to work every day.”
McMurphy’s job satisfaction comes from being creative. “I chose engineering because I enjoy seeing my ideas come to life. In other words, I like to design the electrical system, and watch the crews build it and make my design a success.”
It also comes from his colleagues, according to the engineer. “Everyone treats each other with respect and is very helpful. We’re a big family.”
However, McMurphy’s job requires him to interact with more than just his work family.
“Being a people person is an important skill to have because my job requires me to meet with developers, builders, electricians and customers, and a positive attitude is a must,” maintains McMurphy.
His creativity is also key to his professional success. “Creative problem-solving is important because we must be able to accommodate our customers in the most practical and economical way possible,” McMurphy explains.
And whenever you’re working with electricity, safety comes first, he underscores. “Gulf Power seeks safety-oriented people. Without a safe workplace and safe workers, you wouldn’t have a successful business.”
As with many engineers, McMurphy had to endure the gauntlet of engineering school.
“One of the hardest times I had during my studies was my junior year of college. I was taking 18 hours, working full time and trying to maintain a social life. It got hard to manage all of it, and I started to see my grades go down.”
McMurphy realized that he had too many plates spinning at once. “I came out of that slump by prioritizing and managing my classes, work and social life,” he shares.
He graduated with a civil engineering degree from the University of South Alabama.
“I wanted to become an environmental engineer, but the opportunity did not present itself. So I explored other opportunities, and I ended up landing a distribution engineering job with Gulf Power,” recalls McMurphy.
As a result of his experience, he urges others to be professionally nimble.
“Do not be afraid of seeking opportunities outside of your field or planned career,” he advises. “Most companies do a great job in developing new employees coming right out of college.”
That was McMurphy’s experience at Gulf Power. “Gulf Power invests in developing their employees. Coming right out of college, I didn’t know what to expect, especially taking on a completely different field, but Gulf Power did a great job training and preparing me for my job.”
In fact, according to McMurphy, an engineering degree can open many doors, even after you’re hired.
“Look to take on new challenges because you’ll learn everything on the job. Your degree shows you’re willing to put the time and effort to succeed,” he adds.
At presstime McMurphy is now a distribution field engineer with Birmingham, AL-based Alabama Power, which can be followed on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and is online at alabamapower.com/our-company/careers.
Gulf Power is headquartered in Pensacola, FL. Learn more at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram. Explore careers at gulfpower.com/about-us/careers.
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