Oct 13, 2020

Weathering storms with resilience: PPL employee turns MS diagnosis into inspiring journey

REACH is one of 15 employee-led business resource groups (BRGs) at PPL. REACH stands for rallying employees above challenging histories and is focused on identifying the needs of differently abled employees and providing the resources to support the effectiveness and well-being of these employees, their friends, families and the communities PPL serves.

REACH’s work supports PPL’s broader diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, and with REACH’s support, PPL has been named a “best place to work” for people with disabilities on the Disability Equality Index for three years running.

Geetha Srinivasan, a program owner in Distribution Asset Investment Strategy at PPL Electric Utilities, is a member of REACH and has inspired many with her story. Srinivasan was recently selected as a 2020 Employee of the Year by CAREERS & the disABLED magazine. She was a panelist at the Pennsylvania Diversity Council’s disABILITY Summit on Sept. 17 where she spoke about the work and effectiveness of PPL’s BRGs, as well as REACH. Here, she reflects on her journey.

I had the privilege of being invited to be a panelist at the Pennsylvania Diversity Council in September. It was a humbling experience to see many industry professionals working on creating inclusive workplaces and driving for talent management programs that focus on a differently abled workforce. As I was sharing REACH BRG’s initiatives, I realized that resilience is not only an attribute that is key to the modernization of PPL’s power grid, but it can be something that can bring people — people responsible for the grid and the people who are served by the grid — together.

Geetha proudly displays PPL’s award as a “best place to work” for people with disabilities from the Disability Equality Index.

At PPL, we are constantly striving to make our power grid smarter and more resilient. We innovate with technology to enhance resiliency. We research ways to make our wires and poles more resilient; to keep the cable conducting without skipping a beat. We use robust equipment to harden the grid against unforgiving and often unpredictable storms.

At some point in our lives, many of us face our own unforgiving, unpredictable storms, disrupting our personal lives and trying to knock us off course. For me, what certainly seemed like a storm was when my doctor told me that I have multiple sclerosis (MS) several years ago. It felt that I would not be able to continue in a frantic, fast-paced work style that I craved very much. As I was in the midway point of completing my MBA, I felt myself being at a crossroad. I felt that life as I knew it was being washed away in the storm.

While certainly not an immediate realization, and thanks to modern medicine, MS stayed in the background rather than stealing my thunder. But it was a long, uncertain journey that involved a series of self-doubts. During the process, I came to realize that life is not a zero-sum game. It is not all or nothing. Rather, it is building one success to feed another, one lesson to learn another, and an evolving journey to make each day, whether at work or at home, better than the previous one. It is a game of resiliency that mandates agility as the backbone and requires grit as the formula for success.

As I heard other employers and healthcare professionals speak about disability and workplace inclusion, I realized that we have come a great distance to create a diverse workforce that celebrates resiliency. Currently, we have 15 employee resource groups across PPL and our utilities in Kentucky. Each BRG showcases the resiliency, grit and pride of its members to live an engaged life despite challenges and how we all can achieve highly ambitious goals that were once thought to be unattainable.

Through the BRGs, our teams empower the communities we serve to do the same, and it creates a ripple effect. I am proud and inspired to share my story as well as PPL’s work in creating equal opportunities and providing necessary accommodations so all can reach their full potential.