Q&A with AVANGRID Trailblazers Pt. 2 | Women's History Month

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We continue our Q& A series in celebration of National Women’s History Month by hearing from a few more of our AVANGRID woman leaders, who share their insights on their professional journey and offering advice to others.

Rita King, Senior Director of Smart Grids Innovation  

Rita King, Senior Director of Smart Grids Innovation

Rita King, Senior Director of Smart Grids Innovation

What have been the highlights and challenges in your current role?
My current role includes enterprise level responsibilities within Networks to design, execute and promote our innovation processes, demonstration projects, distribution system platform planning and innovation culture. This is a transformational area of the business so our work is very interesting but challenging in that the industry and pace of change has been at a very high level.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and/or personal life?
I’ve been able to benefit from having a mentor as well as acting as a mentor to others. Mentorship has provided different perspectives, approaches and insights that have allowed me to work on my capabilities and enabled learning how to apply those skills to a variety of situations.

If you could turn back time, what advice would you give your less experienced self?
Play to your strengths, work hard, don’t be afraid to take on roles/responsibilities that feel BIG and overwhelming, take it one day at a time as much of your career is a marathon and not a sprint. Always be willing to learn and grow as a person with new subject matter as well as the softer skills- presentations, relationships, collaboration, etc.


 

Raquel Mercado, Executive Director, CEO Office (Networks & Innovation)

Raquel Mercado, Executive Director, CEO Office (Networks & Innovation)

Raquel Mercado, Executive Director, CEO Office (Networks & Innovation)

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and/or personal life?
I have had some great mentors along the way and am very appreciative for the experiences. I think it’s important to understand that your short list of mentors should be diverse – each should fill a different need – whether professional or personal. You want to find the right champions that will support your journey. You should also keep in mind that as a mentee, you should bring something to the table. Don’t expect your Mentor to do the heavy lifting – if you are given homework – do it and then some. The benefit of having a mentee is watching the person realize their milestones – don’t just go through the motions. If something isn’t working – change it.

If you could turn back time, what advice would you give your less experienced self?
Tough to say. I always joke and say – I could write a book on my experience in the sector. Imagine being 22 years old and being the only female technician in a power plant full of male employees (140 to be exact). That was the start of my career. At the age of 32 I had all the Engineering Services for a region that served over half a million customers with a staff of 75. I think early on – I knew I had to push myself to be better than average. At times, I didn’t take the time to enjoy the journey. Today, I better understand balance and while I still push myself to learn new things – I do it because I enjoy it, not because I’m trying to prove something.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace, in general?
I would say the biggest issue for any social group in the workplace is unconscious biases. We all exhibit this at times. The danger lies in the lack of awareness in any given organization. The questioning of a candidate’s ability to lead or manage assignments because of gender is a common one. Less challenged when the candidate is male – yet going back to writing a book, I can tell you I’ve had good and poor leaders on both sides of the aisle. If you want to truly have the best candidates in your organization – make sure the blinders are off.


Nyree Pinto, Senior Director, Recruitment, Internal Communications and Employee Engagement

Nyree Pinto, Senior Director, Recruitment, Internal Communications and Employee Engagement

Nyree Pinto, Senior Director, Recruitment, Internal Communications and Employee Engagement

What have been the highlights and challenges in your current role?
My leadership purpose is to open hearts and minds to create something that really matters. Both the highlights and the challenges in my current role occur when I am living that purpose – and most of the time they’re happening simultaneously. For me, this is in launching the employee opinion survey last year so that we could hear the voice of the employee and it’s in working with engagement leads across the business to take action in areas that will improve our culture and how we work.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and/or personal life? 
There is a saying that goes: When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. I would add to that saying... the student must get clear on what it is that they really want (no... really, really want and why) and then begin talking to everyone about it, as appropriate. From there it’s about listening to how people respond and what they suggest, and keeping a totally open mind. When you’re crystal clear about what you want and why, it makes you more passionate about it and it’s easier for people – like a mentor -- to emerge, to offer support, and help. I have had informal mentors and mentors as part of development programs. The key is that no one cares more about your career and what you want than YOU do – so own it and don’t wait for someone to tap you on the shoulder and say they’d like to mentor you.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace, in general? 
My personal view is related to being a mom and an employee and how the blend of the two can work together sans guilt. At a systematic view I believe making strides nationally on maternity leave benefits could make a material difference in the lives of working women, their economic position, and the American family.