A friend of mine told me that his coworkers at NV Energy don’t care what job they have if they can transfer into Mary Simmons’ department. Her role in the community is unmatched with a life history and loyalty to Nevada and NV Energy. When I was told that she’s an amazing boss and a leader, I added her to the top of my interview list to find out more about what drives Mary to be excellent.
Mary was born and raised in Ely, Nevada. Growing up she always thought of Reno as the “big city”. She studied accounting at the University of Nevada, Reno with the aspiration to become a CPA. For 7 years after graduating, she was a public accountant. Then a position opened up at NV Energy (formerly Sierra Pacific) in internal auditing. That was the start of a 31 year [and counting] career at NV Energy.
I asked her how she maintains excellence in her work, and she said that she always tries to do right by her organization. Instead of thinking of yourself, if you do right by your company, customer and employee, then everything falls into place. That motto and passion for the mission of the company is what’s brought Mary great success in the nine different positions she’s held at NV Energy.
If you do right by your company, customer and employee, then everything seems to fall into place.
She didn’t expect that she’d start her career in accounting then end up in community relations, but as a self-identified introvert and extrovert, it makes sense for her career path. She tends to spend lots of time in her own head but her interest in communicating with others has been critical in uncovering how to improve programs and processes for NV Energy’s employees and customers.
I found it refreshing to sit down with someone who absolutely loves her work with a particular gratitude toward her coworkers and employees that believe in NV Energy. As the Vice President of Business Development and Community Strategy, Mary’s job is to listen to the needs of Nevada and find new ways for NV Energy to fulfill its mission. She pays attention to employees and customers so that she can keep a pulse on what’s happening in our communities.
As NV Energy services 90% of Nevada’s population, Mary’s role in economic development covers our entire state. She explained that it’s a fascinating business with many complexities and it’s with the support of a very dedicated and intelligent staff that allow Mary to successfully oversee three areas of the company in economic development and business development, community relations and the administration of the NV Energy Foundation.
NV Energy is a complex business and I’ve appreciated the opportunity to work with really dedicated and intelligent people, including economists, engineers and accountants.
Since Apple, Switch and Tesla came to town, Mary described a huge interest among prospective businesses seeking to relocate to Nevada. Companies see the value in growing and starting business here, so there’s a constant pipeline of people seeking to learn more about our community, including NV Energy rates and service. People realize what a great place Nevada is with increasing opportunities for economic growth and transformation on the horizon.
The community relations portion of her work includes looking for collaborations and partnerships with schools and non-profit organizations, like Boys and Girls Club. Almost everyone in the state is a customer of NV Energy, so it’s important for the company to find ways to give back and improve the communities in which we all live and work.
Every year NV Energy typically gives back $5 million to Nevada by way of grants to non-profit organizations and sponsorships at community events. Employees at NV Energy have a passion to sit on various boards or serve as a volunteer in other ways, and this is an important part of the NV Energy culture. When employees have opportunities to give back, Mary’s seen greater attraction and retention of the staff hired.
Employees want to help improve our communities and it is fun to see their passion to give back.
I ended the interview by asking Mary what advice she would give to her 20-year-old self, and she said she wouldn’t change a thing. She took advantage of opportunities that came and continues to practice that openness especially as she looks towards her future work. NV Energy is in the process of considering a technology that may provide more efficient service (i.e., savings for customers). With this cutting edge work, Mary is very satisfied by the opportunity to do right by an organization that seeks to improve the industry and ultimately provide great service to Nevada communities.