Remaining a student of the business with a sincere curiosity in the markets and industries that you serve is key… Lead by example. Challenge employees to stretch themselves to higher levels of performance.Tricia Breeger
How did you decide to go into mechanical engineering? Do you think the power systems industry is a good career choice for women and why?
While in high school I developed a strong aptitude for math, logical learning, and abstract thinking. As I prepared to enter college my parents, both schoolteachers, asked me if I wanted to be a teacher. I said no, that wasn’t the right profession for me. So, they strongly advised me to pursue engineering. It was my college advisor at the University of Arkansas who guided me towards mechanical engineering. He helped me appreciate that a mechanical engineering curriculum was broad enough to be successfully applied to numerous industries. He felt it was a solid base for a technical career path and also a strong foundation to build upon.
Regarding the power systems industry, when it comes to career choice, I don’t often think in terms of what is good for women versus men. I believe it’s more important to let your strengths, interests, and passions guide you towards the right career for you. If you are true to your own interests, you’ll have the drive and passion to be successful regardless of whether the field is predominantly filled with men or women.
Why did you decide to study business as well? How did both of these education paths help you in your career?
Studying business was an interest that developed several years into my career. Although I enjoyed applying my technical knowledge to my work, once I became aware of the broader responsibilities associated with running a business, I found myself drawn to it. I had begun to develop a strength in leadership and organizational management, but to be excellent I felt I needed a formal education in business. Not long after completing my MBA I ran my first P&L for MEPPI, and I was hooked. When talking about career paths I often counsel employees and colleagues to sincerely recognize their strengths and weaknesses and then put themselves in a position that best utilizes their strengths. Of course, with hard work and dedication, you can improve your weak areas. However, if you apply a similar commitment to your strong areas, the results are exponential. I had a passion and a talent for running businesses, and I knew it was the most impactful way for me to contribute to MEPPI’s success.
MEPPI is a company that leads with engineering excellence in products, systems, and services. Therefore, a foundational education in engineering proved to be extremely beneficial in understanding and communicating the technical benefits and differentiating factors in the products and systems we provide. Early in my career I had the good fortune of leading service operations. Nothing emphasizes the importance of customer relationships and customer care like service. My service management role really honed my skills in customer engagement, conflict management, and the importance of the customer experience. I learned that even the most challenging field situations are an opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to your customer that will ultimately strengthen the relationship. In addition to service, running manufacturing operations has been a strong influence in my career. I carry my passion for manufacturing forward as the Vice Chair for Catalyst Connection, a non-profit organization supporting small and medium manufacturers in southwestern Pennsylvania.
How did you start your professional journey in the power Systems industry? Do you have any practical advice for young people at the beginning of their own journey?
Prior to joining MEPPI, I was a design engineer for Westinghouse at their Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory. The move to MEPPI gave me the customer engagement experience I truly desired.
So, it was really the opportunity to engage customers directly, paired with the opportunity to join a great organization, like MEPPI, that resulted in my move into the power systems industry. Today, the power systems industry is undergoing a transformation not seen in 50+ years. The clean energy transition, load growth, resiliency requirements, and federal funding are creating unprecedented momentum and change within our industry making it a very exciting place to be.
If any readers are interested in being a part of the clean energy transition and supporting decarbonization, MEPPI is a great option and a great place to work. We are driven by deep commitments to quality, integrity, our employees, and the customers that we serve. I am proud to say that we also have a strong and impactful Professional Women’s Program.
When did you first come into a leadership position? What are your obligations and responsibilities in your current role?
My first leadership position was the service management role I referred to earlier. I was given the opportunity to build a team from the ground up. We were a small organization with a big responsibility – customer care. The lessons I learned running service continue to guide my decision making today. This includes: a) deliver bad new quickly, honestly, and with transparency, b) do what you say you are going to do, c) every problem is an opportunity, and d) equipment issues don’t kill a customer relationship, it’s how you respond to them that is most impactful to the relationship.
In my current role as President & CEO, I oversee business strategy, growth, and development while transitioning MEPPI towards digitization and decarbonization. I continue to lead the company’s operating groups with the purpose of creating increasing value for our customers through solutions, systems, products, and services all with the long-standing quality of the Mitsubishi Electric brand.
Not necessarily unique to power systems but unique to finding your way in a male-dominated field… Whether you want to build a strong relationship with customers, colleagues, or executives, you need to commit some time to it.Tricia Breeger
What are the qualities of a good leader? What are the qualities you have that helped you in your journey towards leadership?
Remaining a student of the business with a sincere curiosity in the markets and industries that you serve is key. I recommend doing more listening than speaking, but then communicating clearly, and also writing things down. Lead by example. Challenge employees to stretch themselves to higher levels of performance.
Seeing things through the lens of our customers. Working and collaborating with talented and dedicated colleagues. Standing up for the needs of the business and our employees during difficult times. A sincere passion for the work.
Do you think women in leadership positions in the Power Systems industry face unique challenges? If yes, which? Have you noticed that women leaders differ from male leaders? In what way?
Not necessarily unique to power systems but unique to finding your way in a male dominated field. I recommend that women in any male dominated field seek mentors (male or female), build a network, try golfing (you don’t have to be great at it), read the sports page every once in a while, and have a drink with colleagues from time to time. Whether you want to build a strong relationship with customers, colleagues, or executives, you need to commit some time to it.
I’ve actually never had a female boss but I’m glad to say that those days are changing in the power systems industry. Regarding leadership, what I’ve come to know is that there are many different leadership styles that can be successful. Finding the style that genuinely works for you is key. So, whether you are a male or female leader I recommend that you play to your strengths but also stretch yourself to meet the needs of your business.
Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc. (MEPPI) specializes in providing advanced energy solutions to the electric power sector, offering smart grid systems, battery energy storage solutions, substation monitoring, and mission-critical solutions for data centers. Additionally, their divisions focus on high-definition displays, transportation systems, and rail industry solutions. As a U.S. affiliate of Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, MEPPI is headquartered in Warrendale, Pennsylvania, and is committed to environmentally responsible practices. This commitment includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions, delivering eco-friendly products, and complying with environmental regulations.
For nearly four decades, MEPPI has collaborated with electric power utilities, contributing to the reliable delivery of electricity. With an emphasis on innovation and sustainability, MEPPI is poised to meet the evolving needs of the electric power industry. Based in Warrendale, Pennsylvania, the company stands as a knowledgeable and forward-thinking partner, adept at addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by the journey toward a sustainable electrified future.