Despite being nicknamed the “Second City,” Chicago is a city of many firsts-from the nation’s first skyscraper, to the first controlled nuclear reaction, to the first elevated railway system. And while an event that occurred in Chicago on May 11, 2009, likely won’t make it into history books, ComEd made history of its own that day, with the appointment of the first female president and chief operating officer in its 100-plus-year history.

I am honored to be that “first female,” and I’m proud to work for a company that welcomes diverse voices by fostering a culture of inclusion. ComEd not only recognizes the value of diversity among its workforce, but also encourages diverse voices to speak up and be included in our business decisions.

A trained lawyer leading a major utility in a traditionally male-dominated industry may seem like an aberration, but I’ve always been willing to express a different viewpoint. In college, I was a theatre and communications major—hardly the conventional route to a leadership role in an electric utility. But with intellectual curiosity as a driving force, I followed a career path that took me from retail, to law, to a career with the largest electric utility in Illinois.

Some may view my lack of an engineering or operations background as a detriment to my position, but I’ve always embraced the idea of looking at issues from new perspectives. I firmly believe that diversity of thought and diversity of experience are valuable assets for any business. Fortunately, this ideal is shared by the senior leadership of ComEd and our parent company, Exelon Corporation.

For the past 11 years, I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside John W. Rowe, Chairman and CEO of Exelon, and Frank M. Clark, Chairman and CEO of ComEd. Both John and Frank welcomed me into the fold from the start—non-traditional career track and all.

Their support of me and their unwavering commitment to include diverse voices continually inspires my efforts to ensure ComEd is prepared to meet the challenges of a 21st century business environment. Among those challenges is the reality that our industry is changing. Our ability to go beyond conventional thinking—to boldly step outside the box—will be key to our success. Our ability to achieve our goals depends on our openness to different voices, and our willingness to include such input in our business blueprint.