Place of birth: Pittsburgh
Education: Graduated from Baldwin High School. Bachelor’s degree, business administration and master’s degree, taxation, Robert Morris University.
First job: Worked as a stockperson at Murphy’s Mart during high school. My parents taught us that working was a privilege. Growing up, we always had jobs, always worked hard and were incredibly respectful of those we worked with.
Whom do you admire most in business and why?
I have seen and met some incredibly talented and truly good people. But the person I admire the most is Bob Bozzone (retired chairman of Allegheny Technologies Inc.).
He’s a person who worked his way up through the steel industry. He has had an incredibly successful career. In addition to these achievements, he spends nearly all of his time giving back to this community and serving companies as an incredibly valuable board member.
He has been my closest adviser and truly a friend in helping me grow as a businessperson. His sense of family and his values are so evident in who he is. He has set the standard for me to aspire to become someday.
What is the most important business lesson you’ve learned?
The most important lesson I’ve learned is to be a good listener. We all develop a great deal of self-confidence as we move on through our careers. But we can’t ever forget that others, especially those who are closest to the problem, have valuable opinions.
What has been your toughest business challenge?
Taking over as CEO after a number of years of uncertainty for our business. And, on top of that, being young for my position (41) made it an even greater challenge in getting employees to buy into our strategy. I look back now and am impressed with how far we’ve come as a result of our sharp focus on our core electric utility business and the incredible amount of commitment from all of our employees.
Describe your leadership style.
I try to approach people in a very open manner. I like to think that I’m very approachable. I have always respected that other folks have different opinions. And I believe it is important to understand those views.
I enjoy having an open discussion or debate on business issues. In the end, I know I’m held accountable for my decisions, and I take that very serious. While this job has many requirements, I most enjoy meeting with employees, especially when you can engage in conversation while trying to understand their challenges in doing their jobs.
Unfortunately, it can be a challenge to find the time to do that as much as I would like.