People that work with me often hear me say, “Learn, love and lead.” What I mean is that you need to be a lifelong learner, you should love what you do, and be a leader in everything you do. This is the philosophy I preach, but also the criteria I live my life by.

Be a lifelong learner. Learning is not simply about obtaining a degree. A college degree may get you to a point, but it’s what you do with that degree and how you supplement it that will set you apart.

I feel it’s also critical that current college students learn to learn. Sometimes this in itself can be an art form. Going from a home full of structure into a college setting that often begins a life of independence can lead to some poor choices. I wish colleges would teach study skills in a way that could be transferred from college to the workforce. Then graduates could hit the ground running even faster.

Love what you do. Love what you do and show that passion. It is natural for a person to excel at the activities they love; it takes perseverance to develop a passion for something new.

Throughout my career, I have been asked to take positions for which I had no formal background. I never said no to a new opportunity. I move into a position and start by asking questions and immersing myself in the topics. When you interact with people who love what they do, that passion begins to rub off. I have learned so much by taking opportunities out of my comfort zone. I’ve had opportunities few people in the utility industry have had the chance to experience.

Showcase your leadership. Good leaders help develop the next leaders. I have a passion for mentoring others. I have learned almost everyone wants to succeed and wants honest, candid feedback. If you don’t give that, you’re cheating people.

Every industry needs leaders, why shouldn’t you be one of them? If you are a lifelong learner then choose to lead. Leading may not mean having a manager title. It may mean heading up a new initiative or project. At our company, we have many opportunities for employees to lead, but you have to want to find the opportunity, and take the risk and extra responsibility. It is truly rewarding.