Amanda Mullan is a Senior Vice President and the Chief Human Resources Officer at New Jersey Resources. Amanda Mullan joined CEWD’s Board of Directors in January. Recently, she shared her vision and passion about issues affecting the energy industry and how she hopes to contribute as a new board member.
Q: What excites you about the work of CEWD, and where do you see opportunities for the organization as it continues to help ensure a pipeline of well-prepared energy workers?
A: What excites me about the work of CEWD is that we are addressing industry-wide needs.
The energy industry is facing a shortage of talent because of the increasing number of workers who may be retiring soon. We need to determine how we are going to attract new and diverse talent to the industry and our organization. That’s going to be legacy work, in that we are helping the industry build talent pipelines for the future.
At New Jersey Resources, we are working very hard to improve the diversity of staff at all levels. We can and will support change on issues of diversity, including improving the numbers of women and people of color in the energy industry, by working with middle and high schools, stimulating the interest of more students in STEM education and sharing the many career paths available to them post-graduation. This industry and our company have career opportunities available to those who want or need to work right out of high school, those who choose to pursue a trade school education, and those who choose to enter college.
Our industry is not as well-known as the technology, banking, finance or healthcare industries, but we offer competitive pay and career satisfaction. A lot of students just aren’t as aware of this and therefore aren’t thinking about working in the energy field. That is why how we market the industry is extremely important. We should start by encouraging more young people, especially those who are typically underrepresented in the industry, to get into STEM so that we expand our talent base.
For example, at our last Board meeting, we expanded the definition of who could be a member of CEWD. Our definition of who could be a member was more limiting than it should have been. We will be expanding our base to welcome those who work with renewables, electric vehicle infrastructure support and energy storage. We also elected to include a new level of membership for companies that provide ancillary services to the energy industry, such as equipment suppliers, the people who design the equipment that helps us make our services more efficient and cleaner. The Board felt it was the right direction to go, but this was a different way of looking at things.
Q: How do you see the energy industry changing over the next few years? What do you think CEWD can do to help energy companies and their education partners prepare for these changes?
A: I think that one huge shift is that we are moving toward renewable energy. I’m excited about recruiting people to work on sustainability projects. It’s a very popular topic, and it will become even more so with a new administration that will renew focus on climate change. Getting renewable energy into distribution systems is an exciting opportunity to market to talent.
This developing branch of alternative energy will require new skills. Speaking from a gas company perspective, I believe we’ll look to inject renewable energy into our distribution network, using the same distribution network we use now. Different types of energy can flow through that network but we’ll still have crews on the ground. I imagine this is similar for the electric side of the industry.
We’ll be retraining current workers as well as recruiting workers with new skills and CEWD will undoubtedly have a role to play in that.
Q: Tell us about your own career path. Were you always interested in energy?
A: No, not at all. Like many people, I never thought of the energy industry, quite frankly. I started out wanting to be a teacher and got involved in corporate training. Then I moved from training into Human Resources. My career early on was in the financial and insurance industries, before being recruited to the position I’m in now. One of the things that drew me to this job was that I saw the industry moving toward a clean energy future. I knew that energy companies were going to be taking on new responsibilities and I wanted to be part of that sustainability effort.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish as a board member? What do you feel you can contribute that is different or unique?
A: As the industry faces changes, this is a unique time to be part of helping to build the talent of the future. I’m excited to be thinking about how to solve the problems facing the industry, because they are not easy ones. Helping to think through and solve these problems and anticipate how the industry might change over the next 10 years is why I was interested in getting more involved with CEWD.
When I look at the makeup of CEWD’s board, there aren’t many representatives from the gas industry and I think that gas is critical to the future of clean energy. Even though there’s going to be a larger role for wind and solar energy, that has to be backed up by gas and I think providing perspective from this part of the industry is important. I hope that’s something that I can contribute.