It is rare that someone goes to college and is fortunate enough to get to do exactly what they prepared for. But that is the case with Roseann Harrington, vice president of marketing, communications and community relations for Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC).
She explains, “I like a fast-paced, creative and results-oriented environment that has me interacting with a broad spectrum of people. No two days are the same, and I love that about my job.” Adding she didn’t expect to find that level of challenge and fulfillment working for a public utility. “My biggest surprise has been how much I enjoy the utility industry. Who would have thought a creative person would like power lines, water labs and energy plants? But I do, and I look at utility infrastructure wherever I travel.”
OUC is the 16th largest municipal electric and water utility in the U.S., serving the City of Orlando and parts of Orange and Osceola Counties. Harrington described her responsibilities as overseeing “all internal and external corporate relations including communications, media relations, advertising, marketing, customer education, community relations, employee involvement, local government affairs, economic development and e-commerce.”
Mentors, Examples & Advice
Mentors and role models that lift our vision and challenge our limits abound if we are just looking to find them. But Harrington was fortunate enough to find her most enduring role model right at home. “It probably sounds cliché, but my mother has always been my inspiration. She was one of the first businesswomen in Central Florida and was an early trailblazer on advancing women in business. She is the ultimate networker and taught me to never give up … just try a new approach.”
Harrington also found some great professional mentors who helped her grow and develop at each rung of her career. “I have been extremely lucky to have worked for incredibly smart and talented people in my life, each with unique skill sets. I spent six years early in my career developing training programs in electric operations and worked for Bill Herrington, vice president of electric operations. Bill taught me to be results-oriented and encouraged me to get my MBA (which she did at the Rollins College Crummer School of Business).
“Midway through my tenure at OUC, I worked for Bob Haven, who was CEO for 10 years. He taught me to be strategic and just about everything I know about politics and business development. Last, but certainly not least, is my current boss OUC General Manager & CEO Ken Ksionek. If Bill and Bob taught me how to fly, then Ken pushed me out there and let me soar. Ken also taught me that ‘the devil is in the details’ and that you need to make sure you have good information before making decisions.”
Harrington said there were a number of advantages to being a woman in the workforce. “I have found that sometimes people are more willing to be ‘real’ with you and open up more than they would with a man. This allows you to learn what someone really ‘needs’ or ‘wants’ or is ‘concerned about,’ which improves your decision-making abilities.”