From safety practices to storm operations, each member of our team plays an important role in powering our community. Get to know our staff in a series of questions and learn more about what powers their work at I&M and beyond. This month, get to know Stephanny Smith, Director of Communications.
How long have you been with I&M?
It was a year in May, so I’m still a rookie!
What duties do you have within your department?
I&M’s communications and marketing team implements our internal and external communication strategies, communicates to customers during outages, educates customers about various programs and initiatives, and provides guidance to leaders and departments throughout the organization. I’m lucky to lead this amazing team, but everything we accomplish is a group effort.
Who or what inspires you within your career?
I’m inspired by the idea that I have been able to build a career around my love of words. It sounds simple, but words are so powerful, and what my job boils down to is finding the right words and then figuring out how to best share them with the appropriate audience.
What is the best advice a family member or mentor has given you?
In any type of crisis or stressful situation, it is so important to remain calm. Once you lose your ability to stay calm, you also lose the ability to be part of the solution. In my office I have a huge, framed print of the WWII-era “Keep Calm & Carry On” poster that serves as a constant reminder.
What is something about your role with I&M that would surprise customers?
I think they would be surprised by how hyper-aware you become of weather conditions when you work for a power company. Even my teenage daughter commented to a friend that ever since I started working for I&M, I’ve been obsessed with storms. And she’s right, because I now view storms as an opportunity to communicate with customers and keep them informed.
What causes are you most passionate about? Are you directly involved in any organizations that support this passion?
I am passionate about books. I firmly believe that books save lives. My previous position was with the Allen County Public Library, and while I have moved on career-wise, I absolutely believe that libraries are sacred spaces and books are magic.
What lesson did you learn early in your professional career that has stuck with you over time?
You always want to be the person who helps solve problems, not the person who creates them.
What career highlight are you most proud of in your time here with I&M?
Again, I haven’t been here that long, but I’d have to say it was the week of Christmas. As a team we spent days preparing for blizzard conditions and communicating in advance with customers and then keeping them informed during the storm. Once the blizzard concerns passed, we were still dealing with severe cold and asking customers to conserve power on Christmas Eve. I’m so proud of my team for the way in which we came together, performed at a high level, and at the same time gave each other grace and filled in for each other during different points when we each needed time away to attend holiday gatherings.
What is one item on your personal bucket list you are most looking forward to experiencing?
Our family is headed to Italy this summer for the first time. As a history buff, I am so excited. I’m sure the food will also be a plus!
What do you enjoy most about working at I&M?
I appreciate the importance we place on customer service. We are a customer service organization that happens to provide electricity. At the end of the day, our customers are the reason for our existence, and we keep them at the center of everything we do.