Editor’s note: The following is the extended version of an interview with Green Mountain Power CEO Mary Powell. A version of this interview appears in the Autumn 2015 issue of Vermont Life.
Mary Powell, 54, is the CEO of Green Mountain Power, a role she never envisioned for herself as a young, outdoorsy New York transplant. Today she’s one of the most influential Vermont voices in energy, leadership and workplace issues.
VL: You left a corporate gig in Manhattan to move to Vermont. Why Vermont?
MP: My dad’s grandfather purchased a piece of land on the lake in Colchester, I think in 1910. So the family has always come to Vermont, in fact, my family still has that same cottage. Vermont was always my second home, and I usually spent at least half of my summer here. When my parents retired, they retired to Vermont. My sister and her family moved to Vermont, and Mark and I had the opportunity to transition up here — and it was for a lot of the same reasons, I think, that I love Vermont 26 years later; which is, it’s an amazing quality of life. It’s an amazing place to live in.
VL: You’ve worked in business, banking and utilities. What would you tell your younger self who thought these fields were “stuffy”?
MP: I would still say to my younger self, “Don’t work for stuffy, bureaucratic organizations.” Actually one of the lines I like is “I didn’t know what I didn’t know.” I think while I ended up in these situations I never thought I’d be in, obviously, I was open enough that at the end of the day I did try (them). So I think staying open and being willing to try different things is really important.
VL: It’s worked out. Continue Reading
MP: It has. It really has. I would also say, adding to that, I would say a huge part of why things have worked for me is that I was always willing to bring my authentic self to wherever I went. That is something I would probably encourage even stronger in my younger self, and I encourage in others, is tap into those wonderful, authentic qualities that you have and figure out how to bring them to the situation and leverage them in a way that’s positive for whatever organization you’re working for. Don’t try to conform. So many times I hear people when they’re going for interviews, they want advice, they’ll research exactly what [the companies are looking] for, and exactly what the