Take Advantage of Women’s Networking Opportunities at CS Week

Take Advantage of Women’s Networking Opportunities at CS Week

This week’s CS Week blog post is taken from an interview with Denise Kruger, Senior Vice President, Regulated Utilities for Golden State Water.

One of the ways women from Sheryl Sandberg to Malala Yousafzai recommend advancing women into leadership roles is through women-helping-women efforts. These efforts range from mentoring — a close, one-on-one relationship — to networking or larger events that encourage story sharing and mingling.

“One thing that I think women in leadership need to do is to look out broadly across their organizations,” Ms. Kruger said. “Or across other organizations, go to utility conferences, and search out those women who are starting out their career or moving up in their career and just reach out to them and share your story and your experience.”

Sharing helps women draw parallels between experience, recognize themselves in roles that may be a few years off, and find the courage to work toward achieving recognition.

“I think it is really helpful for women who are coming through the ranks to hear from those in leadership about the pitfalls they made along the way so they can avoid them and I just think it’s really helpful to share experiences,” Ms. Kruger said. “And if you don’t make a conscious effort to do it, it won’t get done. So you really do have to seek women out and just share your story. That’s what I think is really helpful.”

There are multiple opportunities to share and connect, locally, nationally, and online. Organizations that promote interaction and support among women employees are growing in popularity in large organizations.

View CS Week’s Women in Utilities webinar on utilities’ approaches to women-to-women networking organizations.

Since Ms. Kruger suggested the women leaders ought to reach out, we asked how she thought they should do so. Women executives can get so busy that, though they would love to, they just don’t necessarily think to network or reach out.

“We do get very busy,” she admitted. “It’s hard because you don’t want to give women an extra opportunity; you do need to treat everyone fairly. But you could have that special forum for women, like a monthly brown bag lunch, which is what works well for us here; it gives you that special time each month to set aside time for women.”

Events create a safe environment for give-and-take, a place to tell stories and seek advice, a chance for women early in their careers to interact with executive who maybe have experience in the call center, the field, or supervisor roles.

“There’s a couple of conferences, national conferences, like Customer Service Week and the AWWA’s national conference, that have started to put together women networking sessions,” Ms. Kruger noted. “I think it’s important for leaders in the water utility industry or any utility industry to go to those networking opportunities and seek out the up-and-comers. You know, if

we just sit at home during those conferences or sit in our hotel rooms and think ‘I don’t need the women’s networking anymore because I’ve been there, done that,’ that’s the wrong attitude.”

While attendance at a conference may bring with it other obligations, attending the women’s events should be a priority.

“We should be going to those women networking events,” Ms. Kruger continued, “to seek out those women that are up-and-coming in their careers and answer questions and see if we can’t be a resource for them. I think all too often those of us who have been doing our job for years and years and years, we think I don’t need to go to a networking event anymore. But we do need to go, you know, take the time to go, and spend time talking to the women who are just starting out in their careers.”

Attending CS Week? Plan to attend Women in Utilities networking event to meet industry executives like Ms. Kruger, learn their stories and gain insight into building a career in the utilities industry. Want to know how Denise Kruger’s career path took her to the very top of the utility? Click here to view the complete CS Week webinar in which she discussed her career path and her best advice for women in the industry.

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