WICE Member Spotlight: Rossalyn Quaye, Project Manager in State Regulatory Affairs, Con Edison

 

Welcome to our Member Spotlight, highlighting WICE members around the city and state.

 

 

 

 

What are your current job duties at Con Edison?

My job title is Project Manager in State Regulatory Affairs. But my role can be better described as a policy manager. I am responsible for monitoring regulatory issues and proceedings relevant to Con Edison and O&R, and being aware of other state regulatory policies, federal energy policy, and overall industry issues.  With that knowledge, I work in partnership with internal organizations and members of the Joint Utilities to develop the companies’ policy positions, and outreach and advocacy strategies to achieve policy objectives that meet the needs of customers.  I also represent the company at industry meetings and before state commission staff.

Tell us about your education and work experience.

I graduated from the University of Michigan with a dual major in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering. I started as a Chemical Engineering major, but after seeing some cool polymer research at my first internship in the R&D facility of a chemicals manufacturing company, I added the second major.

A lifelong dancer, in my last semester of undergrad, I auditioned for a full-time, certificate program in dance at The Ailey School. After my undergrad graduation, I moved to New York City. After Ailey, I performed regionally with a modern dance company and worked in the fitness industry.

After a few years, I decided I wanted to pursue a law and enrolled at Fordham University School of Law. After my first year, I decided to add an MBA in Finance because I was interested in corporate and financial law, and I could finish both degrees with only one extra year of school. At that time, the energy industry was not on my radar. However, Con Edison’s then-CEO, Kevin Burke, came to speak at an event and I learned that he was an alumnus of Fordham Law, an engineer, and had an MBA.  Understanding the commonality between myself and Kevin changed my viewpoint on my career.

Shortly after, I applied and was selected for a legal internship that Con Edison was offering in partnership with the New York State Bar Association. That internship led to an extended internship during the remainder of my graduate school career and then a full-time position as an attorney. I had developed a good relationship with the VP of Finance at Con Edison who had decided to take a job as the U.S. CFO at National Grid. A few months after she assumed her new role, she asked me to join her. It was a great opportunity that does not come up routinely, so I accepted the position as her Executive Advisor. I subsequently worked as an Engineering Manager in Project Engineering & Design, and in Gas Materials and Standards at National Grid to get a deeper understanding of the core business.

After working there for several years, I decided to pursue a role in energy policy and regulation. I wanted the opportunity to go deeper in this space. The opportunity presented itself at Con Edison, and so I returned.

Do you have any advice for women pursuing higher education while working?

My advice would be to become crystal clear with others about deadlines and aligning on expectations both at your job and at school. Don’t be afraid to ask for latitude and flexibility when needed. Also, always remember to take time for yourself to rest. Rest is necessary for your well-being and performance.

What are some of the changes you had to make in the past year to adapt to the remote work environment?

Remote working was not a huge adjustment for me. My time at National Grid, prior to the pandemic, had helped me become comfortable being productive while mobile (i.e., working while not at my assigned desk). While there, I traveled quite a bit across New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. In my last role at National Grid, I managed a team with members in Hicksville, NY; Syracuse, NY; and Providence, RI. I was part of the Gas Business Unit change agent network, which had members from all company regions and met quarterly in different parts of National Grid’s footprint. I also worked from home sometimes. I was accustomed to working remotely and while traveling. However, one major distinction of working from home during the pandemic is that we don’t have the option to see each other in person. I encourage people to utilize their cameras whenever possible because the non-verbal feedback we receive during video calls helps us to better connect with each other.  During long, remote working days, I sometimes forget to take breaks. I have had to be more intentional about getting up to stretch my legs and grab some water than I was when I was in the office.

Have you discovered any new pandemic hobbies that you recommend others to try out?

I don’t have a new hobby. But I am glad that I can somewhat indulge in those I already had via online offerings of music and dance performances, and dance and yoga classes. I can practice yoga more often now. It is easier because I can join live yoga classes right from my living room rather than traveling to a yoga studio. Apart from yoga, I also meditate daily in the morning. I recommend it to sharpen the mind for the day. I started meditating years before the pandemic. But now I can meditate a little bit longer in the morning due to not having a morning commute.

What books, audiobooks or podcasts are you currently reading or listening to?

I am part of a book club for people who are seeking to be better allies in advocating against racial inequality. Right now, the recreational readings that I do are mostly selected by that group. I am currently reading James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son.

What advice do you give other women working in the male-dominated fields of energy and utilities?

Be the authentic woman and the professional that you are. There was a time in my career when I attempted to adjust myself to fit in among the men that I was working with. Work by itself can be challenging, so don’t add extra pressure on yourself to fit a male-defined culture/standard. Doing that becomes exhausting. Just be yourself and choose your battles, recognizing that there may be times when you have to assert yourself for your voice to be heard. And remember that you have a right for your voice to be heard.

Do you have any other information that you would like to share?

It is a difficult time for a lot of people because of the fear and isolation associated with the pandemic. Many people are losing loved ones without an opportunity to say goodbye in the ways we’ve been accustomed to. But to the extent possible, this can also be a good the time to go within and do some self-examination. It can be uncomfortable at first, but it is a good opportunity to figure out who you are, what you want in life, and begin to take steps to create more alignment in life so that you live it to your fullest, at peace.

 

 

We thank Rossalyn for her candor answering our questions. If you are interested in being highlighted in this series on our blog, please contact WICE Communications and Marketing Manager, Erin Gryniak, at erin.gryniak@nationalgrid.com.