Q&A with AVANGRID Trailblazers | Women's History Month

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In 2011, the centennial of International Women’s Day, President Barack Obama proclaimed March to be “Women’s History Month” to reflect on the extraordinary accomplishments of women who have shaped our country’s history. In celebration, we highlight a few of our AVANGRID female leaders who are making a difference every day with a Q&A series regarding the highlights and challenges in today’s workforce and women’s issues.

LAURA BEANE

Laura Beane, President & CEO of Avangrid Renewables

Laura Beane, President & CEO of Avangrid Renewables

President & CEO of Avangrid Renewables

What have been the highlights and challenges in your current role?

It’s an honor to be surrounded by such talented and passionate people and to work for a company that provides a product in which I so strongly believe. Our team truly is amazing, and knowing they have my back enables me to quickly overcome setbacks and challenges that inevitably occur while working in a complex, global company.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and/or personal life? 
Although I have never had a ‘formal’ mentor, there have been numerous people throughout my career who have mentored me – perhaps without even knowing they were doing it. I am indebted to those who believed in my capabilities and pushed me out of my personal comfort zone, inspiring me to take on new challenges and responsibilities.

If you could turn back time, what advice would you give your less experienced self?
Early in my career I didn’t fully appreciate the value of diverse perspectives. I was focused on the efficient delivery of my work product and I often completed my work independently without seeking input from others. I have since learned that an end product is always improved if I incorporated feedback of those from multiple areas of expertise and life experiences. When developing strategy or completing important work assignments, I now work to solicit input from numerous team members. This ensures the best possible outcome.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace, in general? 
I don’t believe there is a single ‘issue’ for women in the workplace. Every person has different needs and aspirations, as well as unique personal life situations – and these change over time. If we work to understand the needs of our employees and implement structures that support people through the different phases of their career, we will improve our ability to get the very most from our talented team members. This has the added benefit of maximizing employee job satisfaction and retention.


 

SHARON BELFONTI

Sharon Belfonti, Director of Internal Audit - Internal Controls & Financial Reporting

Sharon Belfonti, Director of Internal Audit - Internal Controls & Financial Reporting

Director of Internal Audit – Internal Controls and Financial Reporting  

What have been the highlights and challenges in your current role?
I have a great boss and team to work with every day; I have been given more responsibility and recognition than I formerly have had at times; and I work for a wonderful international company that includes diverse businesses and people I get to learn from and get to know. One challenge is helping people manage through times of change when they may not always be as open and embracing of it.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and/or personal life?
I have always had a mentor in my professional life ever since my first job after college. My mentors have changed over the years, but they have each inspired, motivated, and encouraged me to continue to work towards fulfilling my career goals and I appreciate them very much.

If you could turn back time, what advice would you give your less experienced self?
Be yourself at work. Don’t try to hide who you really are and don’t try to be who you think people want you to be, just be yourself, and you will enjoy your job so much more!

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace, in general?
One of the biggest challenges for women is that we negotiate for ourselves less than men do. So in general, we are paid less and may be given fewer opportunities because we ask for less than men do.


 

NICOLE LICATA GRANT

Nicole Licata Grant, Director of the Avangrid Foundation

Nicole Licata Grant, Director of the Avangrid Foundation

Director, Avangrid Foundation

What have been the highlights and challenges in your current role? 
I have a background as an international energy economist, a humanitarian aid worker/nonprofit leader and former diplomat. My current role is like coming full circle, marrying careers, experiences and values I uphold personally and professionally. I get to work across all aspects of this company, locally and globally and in the communities we serve.

As a company on the forefront of an energy transformation, we have experienced and will continue to experience change and ambiguity, which brings its own set of challenges and opportunities and it can feel overwhelming, even traumatic at times. Putting it into perspective, I strongly believe we have to prioritize the opportunity to build something new so that our employees, our customers and communities can thrive over the long term.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and/or personal life? 
Everyone you meet is a mentor or has the possibility to be one in your life. Here’s my cardinal rule: treat everyone like a mentor. First, you never know what life experience they are sitting on. Also, you never know who is going to be your next boss, your surgeon or your car mechanic. I have never really had a formal mentor, but I have people I admire around me and I learn from across all backgrounds. My best mentor is my dad. He has always been true to himself, take it or leave it. Tough as nails and always lands on his feet.

If you could turn back time, what advice would you give your less experienced self?
Skip the grad degree. Read “The Godfather.” But actually, I’d ask myself and others more often, “what would you do if you had no fear or reservations?” And I’d do that.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace, in general? 
A key issue that impacts women in the U.S continues to be the lack of comprehensive, guaranteed benefits and progressive policies that support both family/caretaker responsibilities while advancing careers. The bulk of this work still falls on women and under-represented groups.