On the Heels of Black History Month, Women's History Month is a Continuation of Lessons
March is Women’s History Month, the time of year we collectively celebrate and acknowledge the significant contributions of women to history and contemporary society. In honor of this special month, we’re spotlighting Karen Mincey, an executive with TECO Energy, to learn more about her personal story and the trail she’s blazed for today’s women.
As TECO’s Chief Information Officer and vice president of Information Technology & Telecommunications, my team includes more than 225 technical professionals in Florida and New Mexico. More than 30 percent are women and the combined makeup of the women and men who are minorities exceeds 35 percent.
Each year, as I mentor several team members throughout the organization, I often share my personal story. Growing up as an African-American in New Orleans, I had no idea of the opportunities that awaited me working for utilities in the fields of engineering and IT – first for eight years at Entergy in New Orleans and now, for more than 25 years, at TECO Energy in Tampa.
While I was considered somewhat of a mathematics prodigy at my all-Black elementary and high schools, I credit an experience I had as an undergraduate with giving me the confidence I needed to succeed in the field of engineering and throughout my career. I was always fascinated by the way things worked, so math and science were very comfortable subjects for me. Even so, I was never encouraged to pursue a career in engineering. Instead, I first enrolled in an accounting program at the University of New Orleans (UNO). It didn't take me long to discover, after an internship as an accounting clerk, that this wasn't what I wanted to do.
Eventually, I landed in the university's electrical engineering program as one of a handful of African-Americans. When you add in the fact that I'm female, the percentage dropped even more. After scoring the highest grade on my first engineering exam, I developed the confidence to compete and excel in college and beyond without even considering my gender or race.
That experience, and joining several different engineering societies to network with others, made me feel more rooted, helping me to succeed in undergraduate and graduate school. I’m proud and humbled to note that I was honored to be UNO’s commencement speaker in 2011 and continue to play a role at my alma mater recruiting engineering students.
I can't say enough about the benefits of a good education and establishing strong informal relationships. Your credentials will only get you through the door. When you're in a position of having to lead through others, the kinds of relationships you establish with people can predict your success or failure. Climbing the “corporate ladder,” I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to work and network with other female leaders.
Sharing our unique experiences and learning from each other has definitely helped broaden my strategic leadership skills, all of which I believe are keys to success.
Karen Mincey has worked in the electric utility industry for more than 30 years.
As Chief Information Officer and vice president of Information Technology & Telecommunications, Karen leads a team of technical professionals responsible for TECO Energy's corporate computing systems. Under her leadership, TECO Energy has been recognized several times as one of the "100 Best Places to Work in IT" and among the "Top 500 Companies in Technology Innovation.
Karen serves on the boards of Tallahassee-based Municode, the nation’s leading codifier of local government ordinances; the Boys and Girls Club of Tampa Bay; and the Hillsborough Community College Foundation, on which she previously served as chair. Other community services Karen is involved in are Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and the church ministries at Bible-Based Fellowship Church in Tampa. Nationally, Karen received the first-ever Woman of Color in Technology "Chairman's Award," recognizing the achievements of the nation's top minority engineers, scientists and technologists.
In February 2010, she was listed as one of Black Enterprise's 75 Most Powerful Women in Business, and in November 2010, the 129-year-old American Association of University Women selected Karen as a "Woman of Distinction" for exhibiting professional excellence in her field, providing leadership and working to promote education and social justice. Karen has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of New Orleans and a Master of Business Administration from Loyola University New Orleans.