By Courtney Anderson, Senior Data Visualization Engineer
On Feb. 18, I had the honor of hearing PUC Chairman Gladys Brown Dutrieuille speak at PPL’s African American Business Resource Group’s signature luncheon in honor of Black History Month. I could use many words to describe her speech — inspiring, insightful or even uplifting. But the word that resonates most is relatable.
As she spoke, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons between her life and my own. We both grew up in central Pennsylvania before attending the University of Pittsburgh. We both had winding career paths that included working for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We both landed in the utility industry, although neither of us planned it. However, we were both open to the opportunity once it presented itself.
I think utility companies are sometimes taken for granted. As customers, we expect that our electricity will always work, and we don’t put much thought into the work it takes to keep the lights on. Being part of the inner workings of such a company has been an eye-opening experience for me and it has provided challenging and rewarding opportunities.
One part of Chairman Dutrieuille’s speech that really spoke to me was when she touched on how mentoring relationships were vital to her success. How people in her life provided her with opportunities along her journey to help her become the trailblazer she is today. She spoke about the person who gave her a job at the local pool when she was 14 years old, and how he could have easily given that responsibility to an older student, but he chose her instead. It made me think of the person who gave me my first job at 14, Ms. Eldora Richardson. She owned a daycare center, and she let me help the children with art activities every day after school for a couple of hours. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized she was using that time to give me guidance and mentorship, which allowed me to gain job experience, interpersonal skills and some pocket change. She saw my passion for art and helped me nurture it. At that time, I had no idea that I would grow to love analyzing data and creating data visualizations. I found that my artistic ability could be used in a meaningful way here at PPL, where I help my coworkers to gain insight from their data by visualizing it with interactive dashboards. I didn’t know that a hobby I never saw myself making a career out of would take me on this unpredictable path and blossom into my dream job.
Chairman Dutrieuille stated, “When people see something in you, appreciate that, and do a good job.” What a great reminder to be grateful for the chances we’ve been afforded, and to show that gratitude through our actions. I truly appreciate the opportunities that I’ve been provided throughout my career. I recognize how people have opened doors for me, extended a hand and guided me through when I needed it most. How mentors have believed in me, rooted for me and vouched for me all along the way. And even here at PPL, how I’ve been embraced, supported and welcomed with open arms.
That got me thinking about what actions I could take following her speech. So first, I’m going to thank the people who inspired me and helped me along my journey. Those who molded and mentored me and allowed me to shadow them up to this point. And second, I’d like to become that person in someone else’s life, helping them to find their way by offering guidance and support.
After all, as Chairman Dutrieuille shared, our success starts with someone else noticing the potential in us and helping to foster it. And, our success becomes legacy by keeping our eyes open for opportunities to reach back and help the next one up.
About Courtney Anderson
Courtney Anderson is a Data Visualization Technologist at PPL Electric Utilities. In this role, she is helping to implement a new self-service data visualization tool for collaborative exploration and analysis of PPL data.
Prior to joining PPL in 2019, she worked as a descriptive statistician and human resources analyst for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.