June 17, 2014

Gianna Manes inspires with her leadership journey

ENMAX CEO discusses the path to success at annual Women in Engineering breakfast

Now in its 21st year, the Women in Engineering breakfast, hosted by the Engineering Associates Program (EAP), showcases influential women from the field of engineering.

On May 23, Gianna Manes took to the podium. “I usually have a box to stand on,” she mused. Though small in stature, Manes exudes presence and easily captures the room as she talks about her own journey from engineering student to CEO.

Gianna Manes has more than 25 years of experience in the energy industry. Before joining ENMAX in 2012 as president and CEO, Manes served as the senior vice president and chief customer officer for Duke Energy, a large North American power holding company supplying and delivering electricity to approximately four million customers.

Her leadership philosophy is made up of two parts, luck and self-awareness.

“Know thy self,” says Manes but she cautions that luck is about being prepared for opportunity rather than chance encounters. “Work hard, two simple words. You have to be willing to put in the time and effort to succeed.”

Manes spent the first part of her career in the gas pipeline business in Houston, Texas and then transitioned to the electricity business through the development of a gas merchant power plant in New England. Each step of the way and even today, she constantly reflects on her journey and career path.

“When you look at your career, look at it not as a ladder but as a series of building blocks,” says Manes. “Each of your experiences can be a critical step. You have to build that good foundation and recognize that it takes time.”

Manes earned a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering from Louisiana State University, a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Houston and completed the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program. She cites her engineering degree as a crucial component to her own successful career.

“One of the best things my engineering degree taught me is how to think and apply my knowledge in new ways,” says Manes. “I learned to think holistically, to think of things as a system. I’m always looking for ways to connect the dots.”

Manes’ talk resonated with the audience, many of whom are young women early in their engineering careers. The next generation of leaders is exactly who Manes hopes to inspire. 

“As a female engineer, it’s important to me to give back and reach out as much as I can.”

Click here for more information on EAP.