A Sustainable start

 

April 15, 2021

Momina Sumbal,

Sustainability Specialist
 

I work as a Sustainability Specialist in Liberty’s Office of Sustainability. I am a graduate of the Master of Science in Sustainability Management (MScSM) program at the University of Toronto, and joined Liberty in April, 2020.

Shortly before I began my new role at Liberty, the COVID-19 pandemic worsened and created uncertainty for all of us. I, myself, was nervous about what it would be like to start a brand new role completely remotely. Thankfully, the team at Liberty was patient, accommodating, and incredibly supportive in ensuring that my onboarding was seamless. I’ve been in this role for exactly a year now, and despite never having met the majority of my colleagues in person, I can safely say that my coworkers and the company culture have made it easier to get through the challenging year that was 2020. Not only am I supported by my colleagues to thrive within my role and my team, I have also been able to apply my personal interest in diversity, equity, and inclusion through mentorship opportunities and involvement with employee business resource groups. Knowing that people in the organization are always willing to help and empower their peers is an integral part of why I love working at Liberty.

As a Sustainability Specialist, I work with the Office of Sustainability and other business units to advance Liberty’s sustainability commitments through the development and implementation of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) – related programs and initiatives, as well as through meaningful and authentic annual sustainability reporting. My experience in this field has taught me the importance of not only procuring credible ESG data, but also taking meaningful steps to put sustainability in action. It’s clear to me that Liberty recognizes and understands this, and I’m proud to be a part of our journey in sustainability.

 

- Momina Sumbal

Proud to be in Customer Service

 

March 31, 2021

Kristen Lange,
Customer Service Supervisor

 

After recently moving back to New Hampshire with my two sons in 2013, I was looking for my next career move that would afford me work-life balance. In August of 2013 I filled a temporary Customer Service Representative position with Liberty. I became a permanent employee in March of 2014 and was promoted to a Lead Customer Service Representative September of 2014. Since then, I’ve worn a number of hats, helped interview new applicants, train new hires and participate in many different projects across departments. I’ve also advanced to my current position as a Customer Service Supervisor where I oversee and assist customer service employees in the performance of their daily duties. These past eight years with the company have helped me become a better person, employee and leader.

The most important qualities I work to instill in my team each day are professionalism, patience, and a “people-first” attitude. I’m most proud of helping them further develop their skillsets and professional careers and ensure that they thrive and succeed within the company. As someone who takes pride in improving employee engagement while getting the job done, it’s important to me to go above and beyond to ensure that all of my direct reports feel appreciated, respected and safe in their roles.

 

- Kristen Lange

Career jumpstart in Customer Service

 

March 25, 2021

Jessica Montgomery,
Talent Specialist

 

I started my career with liberty in October 2013 as a part-time Customer Service Representative. At the time I was a single mother and going to school full-time. The part-time position allowed me to be there for my daughter, focus on college, and start my career while I was still in school. In July 2014 I accepted a full-time Customer Service Representative position which I stayed in while I completed my degrees.

I graduated in December 2014 with a degree in Business Management and Human Resource Management. The week of graduation I accepted a position in the System Reliability department as the System Reliability Administrator. When I accepted the position, I had no idea the impact my time as a Customer Service Rep. would play on my new role. I was responsible for outage data, monthly reporting, and annual reporting - along with other day-to-day tasks, data request, or data related inquires we may have received. There were many times my training and experiences in customer service helped while I was in System Reliability.

In August 2020, I accepted a position in Talent Acquisition as the Talent Specialist for our Central Region in Joplin, which is my current role with Liberty. I primarily focus on helping our hiring leaders find top talent for individual contributor roles, primarily customer service positions, which is very special to me because that is the position that allowed me to start my career with a Liberty. I know the value of the position, how difficult the position can be, and how rewarding the position can be. I truly feel honored that I’m able to bring new representatives into the role. I know how my time in the contact center touched me as not only an employee but a person and love that I get to give others that same opportunity.

 

- Jessica Montgomery

Extreme weather in Midwest leads to water pressure event in Pine Bluff, Arkansas

 

March 18, 2021


The Midwest experienced extreme and prolonged winter weather conditions in February, with temperatures dipping below -20 degrees Fahrenheit in some areas. The bitter temperatures caused waterline leaks and breaks at customer homes and businesses throughout the Pine Bluff, Arkansas community. This led to an increased water demand and decreased water pressure that stressed our system and impacted our customers.

 

Crews responded immediately, but their response was hampered early on by close to 20 inches of snow on the ground and continued extreme cold and winter weather. At the onset of the event, we notified customers asking them to report waterline leaks and to conserve water where safe to do so. Customer communication continued throughout the event.

 

As the event progressed, more than 90 Liberty employees from across our commodities, and service regions including Arizona, California, Missouri, and Illinois responded to assist our Arkansas crews in canvassing the community for leaks and addressing them. In addition, more than 30 contractors from engineers to leak detection experts assisted in the response. The Pine Bluff community participated as well, providing help from their police and fire departments and wastewater utility.

 

Recovery efforts included a wide variety of technology. Drones searched for leaks from above. Crews used detection tools to test water for signs of fluoride to determine if it was water from our system. This indicated a leak rather than water from melting snow and rain. And, leak detection experts used sensitive listening devices, similar to a stethoscope, to detect leaks.

 

The amount of water leaving our system initially, a more than 50 percent increase, indicated a major waterline break or more. However, as the recovery continued, we found or had reported close to 400 customer homes and business with waterline breaks caused by the extreme cold and countless other homes and businesses that repaired their issues without much fanfare. We continue to respond to new reports of customer leaks daily. To date, we have repaired approximately 70 leaks. Water pressures at our three water distribution plants serving Pine Bluff have returned to normal and the plants continue normal operating conditions. While pressures at times were extremely low, at no time during the event did we lose pressure or water distribution. As a result, we did not have to issue a boil advisory.

 

We know how critical and essential safe and reliable water is for our customers. In an effort to help residents of Pine Bluff and Jefferson County with the cost of repairing or replacing the waterline breaks at their homes, Liberty announced a $250,000 donation to customers experiencing hardship. After consultation and collaboration with Pine Bluff and Jefferson County leaders, Liberty partnered with United Way of Southeast Arkansas to help distribute these funds. That work is ongoing. Liberty also held three bottled water distribution events in Pine Bluff. Liberty volunteers from departments such as Business and Community Development and Safety staffed the events and gave out three semi-trailers of water – that’s over 114,000 bottles!

 

There’s always much to learn as a result of emergencies or crisis. In the days ahead, we’ll certainly study this event and our response, document our lessons learned, and adjust and continuously improve. But, we also learned, or maybe a better word is witnessed, how remarkable our Liberty team is. When we called, they showed up without hesitation – from across the country. Those who couldn’t come stayed behind and stepped up to fill in for those who responded. That’s teamwork. That’s commitment to service. That’s the heart of Liberty.  

 


Top 5 qualities for great customer service

March 12, 2021

Kara Fouts,
Customer Service Supervisor

 

Being a Customer Service Representative is arguably one of the most important and most challenging positions within a company.  Customer Service Representatives are the face of a company to the customer and are often the only contact a customer has with a company.  Below are 5 tips for CSRs to keep in mind when delivering great service:

  1. Keep a positive mindset. Customers can hear your smile when you answer the phone.  They can also sense when you are frustrated or upset by your tone.  Take scheduled breaks and do something you enjoy, such as reading a book, listening to music, exercising, or meditating.  Keep photos of your family or pets on your desk or personalize your workspace with your favorite décor to create a positive vibe.    
  2. Never take upset customers personally. An upset customer isn’t frustrated at you, they are frustrated with their situation.  Allow them to air their frustrations and try to relate to their situation.  Let the customer know you are here to assist them and do the best you can to meet their need. 
  3. Give the customer options. Everyone likes to have options available to them.  Even if you are unable to meet a customer’s request, you can generally help guide them to someone who can help or give other available options that would satisfy their need.  Providing customers with payment options, contact information for help agencies, or explaining all of the billing options available to them goes a long way in customer satisfaction. 
  4. Be mindful of your wording. The way you deliver a message to a customer can be just as important as the message itself.  Try to use positive wording instead of negative, focusing on what you can do for the customer instead of what you cannot do.  For example, if you are unable to adjust a customer’s bill, instead of saying “We do not adjust customer bills, I’m sorry but I cannot help you”, say something like “While I cannot adjust your bill, I see you are eligible for a payment plan of up to X# months and I can also give you the contact information for some agencies who may be able to assist in paying your bill”. 
  5. Remember we are here for and because of our customers. Customer Service wouldn’t be a department if it weren’t for our customers.  It is our duty to serve them to the best of our ability, answering questions or resolving issues in a friendly and timely manner.  If follow-ups are needed for a complex issue, continue to check in with your customer as needed until their issue is resolved.  Going the extra mile for our customers shows how much we really do care for them!

 

- Kara Fouts

Liberty Lean-in Circles

International Women's Day 2021

March 8, 2021

France Poirier,
Manager, Learning & Development and Lean-in Program Lead

 

 

It all started with a book, an idea and a small group of women who wanted to support each other and maybe challenge gender bias a little…(okay maybe more than a little). My leader Dainna Datchko, Director of Learning and Development, was one of those women. Being the great leader that she is, she challenged me to start facilitating Lean-in circles, which was out of my comfort zone. Dainna and her peers were inspired by Lean-in circles, where small groups of women meet regularly to engage in peer support, learning activities, and accountability partnerships. We started facilitating these circles informally in 2015, beginning with our Liberty Oakville office.  As it turns out, women were interested and I quickly felt ‘in’ my comfort zone, leading circles. In 2017 we were ready to come out to the world to spread the joy with others across the organization.

This is when we reached out to the business to seek volunteers across the organization to lead Liberty Lean-in circles. A small group of passionate women decided to jump in. For many of them, it meant coming out of their comfort zone and learning new leadership and facilitation skills to become the local Liberty Lean-in leaders. We ended up with eight active circles across the U.S. and one in our head office in Canada.

In 2019 we received great news; we became one of three Business Resource Groups under the leadership of our newly formed Diversity and Inclusion Council. Also in 2019, we started expanding our circles to our allies and it has been a great experience. We believe allies are part of the solution and we appreciate them ‘leaning in’.

In 2020, women and allies who are involved in Liberty Lean-in, shared their ‘why’ with us. Here are just a few:

 

“…because it is both the right thing and smart thing to do.  On a personal level, it is essential that my colleagues, teen girls (3) and wife have equality and empowerment.  I believe that men have a role to play while women increasingly lead.   Men need to listen, think and learn, and then act.  Men need to challenge other men to understanding and advance equality and empowerment.”

Ryan Farquhar

Senior Vice President, International Development and Liberty Lean-in Sponsor

 

“…from my first Circle session, I met a non-judgmental ear... Having a supportive environment where we know someone has our back is a powerful boost to push us towards the best empowered version of ourselves.”

Alya Moolna

Oakville (ON) Circle Leader

 

“…I want to encourage my daughter and those around me to have the courage to step up when it counts, even if they find themselves in the minority, and continue to thrive in both the workplace and in life.”

Elise Forrer

Lake Tahoe (CA) Circle Leader

 

“…I wanted a way to “give back” to the younger generation. I’m so proud to be a part of an amazing circle where the members learn both professional and person skills in a compassionate, non-judgmental environment.”

Jill Fitzpatrick

Londonderry (NH) Circle Leader


Unfortunately in 2020, we took a bit of a step back due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as many of us were forced to focus on other priorities. We currently have five active (virtual) circles and a Committee of very dedicated leaders to continue supporting our initiative. Despite the fact that we cannot meet in person for now, we are hopeful that we can continue to grow and provide women and allies in our organization, opportunities to keep meeting online. In fact, we are currently working on developing a support package that can enable all our offices to establish their own Liberty Lean-in circles both virtually and in-person, to empower women and allies across our enterprise.

See p.60-62 of our 2020 Sustainability Report for more information on our commitment to Diversity and Inclusion and more specifically on p.61, to gender diversity.

Personally as a Program Leader, I am encouraged by the possibilities and the dedication of our Liberty Lean-in Circle Leaders and Diversity & Inclusion Council to support gender diversity in our organization.

 

- France Poirier

 


The Power of People

Engineering Week 2021

February 26, 2021

Swathy Jayaralamuni,
Engineer I - Substation

 

I am an Engineer in the Substation department at Liberty. I hail from India and came to the United States to pursue my Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology. I have been working with Liberty since June, 2020.

When someone asks why I love working at Liberty, the simple answer is “people”. I wake up every day with great excitement to work. I am treated with respect and my Team Lead constantly believes in me. She pushes me to endeavor on tasks that I thought were way beyond my expertise because of my knowledge and tenure in the company. Everybody here is very kind, always ready to jump-in to help. They put their needs and jobs aside to help a co-worker understand a task and answer all kinds of questions, with a lot of patience.

I am a part of Substation Physical Design and I work closely with Electrical Engineers. My job responsibilities involve planning, designing and reviewing various projects to ensure accurate and cost-effective completion, in some cases cost-effective solutions. Liberty believes in and supports continuous improvement and process improvements in order to stay current. There is constant reinvention and willingness to try new ideas. I am currently working on design tool upgrades for the Substation department in our Central Region.

I feel my work is of vital importance because we put all our ENERGY to bringing light to people’s lives and we do everything in our POWER to keep our people warm. I am proud to be working for Liberty and I am honored to be a part the Liberty family.”

 

 

- Swathy Jayaralamuni

 



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