Education: Bachelor of science degree, biology, Valdosta State University; law degree, Woodrow Wilson College of Law
What is the most important business lesson you’ve learned?
It’s an ongoing lesson the value of honesty, integrity and accountability in leadership.
What is the greatest business challenge you’ve ever faced, and how did you overcome it?
A racial discrimination lawsuit in 2000. I overcame it with a great deal of help with some very knowledgeable people and a great deal of work in understanding the issues.
Ratcliffe on vertical integration: The Southeast tends to be more vertically integrated (with its power companies) than the rest of the country because we have enjoyed very good prices of electricity compared to the rest of the country. So the regulators have not seen the necessity of disaggregating the business at this point.
What that means for me for example, going back to the Katrina response all my folks are part of Southern Co. They may be part of different functions they may have a generation responsibility or a transmission responsibility or a distribution responsibility but they’re all part of Southern Co.
If there are three different companies here a generation company, a transmission company and a distribution company that are in no way connected corporately it is harder to have efficient and effective communications at the same level that you have with a vertically integrated business.
Not only it is easier in that regard, but also, I think, in terms of the resources that are available to me in a vertically integrated business. For example, I can use the transmission guys if I need them to help with distribution, or vice versa. We’re all trying to do the same thing and working on the same team.
The generation guys are able to help in a lot of ways staging areas, support vehicles, bodies and coordination not to mention that they’ve got to get the generators back up and running.