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News & Press: Leadership Lines

CIT Class Visits Energy Innovator SDG&E

Monday, November 25, 2019  
Posted by: Leadership California

During the final session of CIT, the Class of 2019 had the opportunity to visit San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) to hear directly from company leaders about STEM leadership, fire mitigation and management, weather forecasting technology and sustainable energy efforts. On the day of the visit, Santa Ana winds were active and numerous fires were burning around the state. SDG&E activated its own Emergency Operations Center just hours after our group’s departure. 

Caroline Winn, Chief Operating Officer and alumna of Leadership California, welcomed the Class and shared the big picture goals of the agency and the focus on advancing women leaders. She explained why SDG&E has been a strong supporter of LC over the years. “More than 35 employees from SDG&E have participated in the CIT Program over the years and it has provided terrific growth and leadership development,” she said. Winn also discussed the tremendous investment the agency has made to better prepare and mitigate the impacts of catastrophic fire, including building a team of five meteorologists to better forecast weather and fire patterns.

Director of Design and Construction Management Tashonda Taylor shared her connection to SDG&E’s #BeThatGirl campaign, which inspires girls to pursue STEM at an early age. She told the class, “We know girls stop playing Legos and such at an early age, but we want girls to know they have options. They can pursue STEM.” Through the #BeThatGirl initiative, women professionals at SDG&E volunteer as role models and mentors for young girls in local communities, encouraging them to pursue studies and careers in engineering, meteorology, environmental science, computer science, biology and biotech, and many other STEM fields. The hope is the program can help contribute to overcoming the severe underrepresentation of women in STEM careers. 

The Class also heard directly from those involved with the critical efforts on fire prevention and management and public safety, an issue impacting so many Californians. SDG&E’s very deliberate and strategic approach to preparedness was discussed in depth. The utility has five meteorologists on staff and uses state-of-the-art technology to map the potential path of a fire. 

The final part of the discussion focused on the company’s sustainability efforts and its dedication to helping meet renewable energy goals. With transportation as one of the biggest contributors of emissions in San Diego, the utility believes it has a critical role to advance the electrification of transportation in the region. Director of Clean Transportation Brittany Syz said, “If they don’t move the dial on transportation, they won’t move the dial on emissions.”

Leadership California thanks San Diego Gas & Electric for its sponsorship of CIT Session IV!

Caroline Winn, COO, San Diego Gas & Electric