By Pat McMurray, Editor-At-Large, and Steve Mitnick, Editor-In-Chief (Public Utilities Fortnightly)
PUF’s Pat McMurray, Editor-at-Large, and Steve Mitnick, Editor-in-Chief, attended the Exelon 2017 Innovation Expo on June 27, along with twenty-seven hundred Exelon employees. Yes, twenty-seven hundred! Across the Exelon companies, from Atlantic City, to Baltimore, to Chicago, to the District of Columbia, to Philadelphia, to Wilmington DE, and beyond.
We spent the day talking with many of the young and diverse men and women that are leading the way for our industry. We took a ton of pics too; more like two tons. Here we excerpt two of the interviews, with senior vice presidents Chris Gould (also the company’s chief innovation officer) and Maggie FitzPatrick.
These brief interviews are a fascinating window into how today’s innovation is bubbling up from the passion and “energy” of an evolving utility workforce. Times have surely changed. This is not your grandfather’s or your father’s utility. Well, this isn’t even the utility we’ve spent our careers working with.
PUF’s Steve Mitnick: What brought you to this point in your career?
Exelon’s Maggie FitzPatrick: I joined the company ten months ago. Before that, I ran global communications and public affairs for Johnson & Johnson.
PUF’s Steve Mitnick: Why did you move to Exelon?
Exelon’s Maggie FitzPatrick: They were looking for someone from outside the energy sector. They also wanted someone who understood brands, and how to build the reputation of the company.
My task at the company is to help people understand the Exelon brand and what we do. It’s a very diverse portfolio. Then we want to try to engage with customers in a different way.
We’re modernizing marketing and communications. We’re engaging with people across new platforms, and bringing the dynamic marketing focus of a consumer products company to an energy company. It’s exciting!
PUF’s Steve Mitnick: Is there a brand for Exelon, or is it emerging?
Exelon’s Maggie FitzPatrick: It’s emerging. We’re working on it. We’re doing some internal crowdsourcing. The employees of the company are creating the brand positioning with us.
It’s not outside-in. It’s inside-out. We’re really excited to have the employees participate in the strengthening of the brand.
We want our employees to be brand ambassadors. We want everyone to have an impact with the brand. For those of us on the front lines engaging with communities, we want them to be great brand ambassadors. Everyone I interact with as part of the Exelon family of companies needs to understand what we stand for and what we’re committed to.
I think Chris Crane as a leader is just incredible, because he grew up in the business. He has an outside-in perspective. He’s transforming a business he’s been in for a very long time, which is a rare gift. To be able to see the next horizon, and to provoke that kind of transformation from within the company, when you’ve been here for a long time, is quite a phenomenon.
PUF’s Steve Mitnick: Can Exelon be exciting?
Exelon’s Maggie FitzPatrick: We need to be. We must be. We’ve said, we must transform the way that we engage with customers, because if we don’t, we’ll lose our relevance to these customers.
There are lots of industries that have been completely disintermediated. For example, taxicabs and Uber. Amazon, and booksellers. We want to make sure that we understand what customers want, and that we’re delivering for those customers.
PUF’s Steve Mitnick: What’s going to happen in the next two years?
Exelon’s Maggie FitzPatrick: I think you will see deep investment in innovation by our company. You’ll also understand that the brand is much more recognizable. That we’re engaging in a direct way with those we serve.