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Redefining Leadership in a Traditional Industry with Mary Powell, President and Chief Executive Officer of Green Mountain Power Corporation

Mary Powell Picture 1.jpg

Welcome to Episode 19. I am joined by Mary Powell, President and Chief Executive Officer of Green Mountain Power in Vermont.  This Episode 19 presents a unique CEO profile in Mary Powell.  Many of the CEO’s that we have featured in the past have come from science, technology and engineering disciplines or law or finance backgrounds.  Mary was raised in an artistic household on New York’s Upper West Side.  Her father was a hardworking, constantly auditioning New York actor.  Mary attended the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts made widely famous by the 1980 dramatic film Fame based on student life at the School of Performing Arts. Mary studied art with a particular passion for charcoal drawing with its kinetic form of big, bold and fast movement.  She was graduated with a degree in Liberal Arts from Keene State College in New Hampshire.  Her career experience prior to Green Mountain Power included a breath of variety – for a large fund manager specializing in money markets, state government, and banking.


Through our conversation it will become very apparent how Mary’s creative and liberal arts background and variety of experience renders her as a uniquely effective leader in a utility industry that most often abides by tradition.


I’d like to express our special thanks to the clients of Lyceum Leadership Consulting that enable us to bring you this podcast. 


Informative and Helpful Links and Videos


  • An April 3rd 2013 article on architecture website Arch Daily entitled “Can Architecture Make Us More Creative?” by Jonathan C. Molloy posed an interesting lead in question: “What do MIT’s Building 20, the Ancient Greek Agora, 18th Century British teahouses, and early 20th century Parisian cafés have in common?”  “They were some of the most creative spaces in the world.” Goes the answer. 

  • From Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, and dramatist Seneca, “Mihi crede, verum gaudium res severa est.” Epistulae morales, 23, 4 ---- “Believe me, true joy is a serious business.” 

  • The Green Mountain Power INSPiRE SPACE

0:32      Introduction to Episode 19 and Mary Powell, President and CEO of Green Mountain Power

2:17      Introduction to Green Mountain Power

3:44      Progression of Green Mountain Power accomplishments and award recognition.

6:43      Origins of orientation toward fulfilling ‘customer dreams’ and ‘love’ for customers

7:52      The Tesla Powerwall as an answer to customer dreams and to dependence on ‘peakers’ in Vermont

10:38    Break 1

11:01    Innovation at Green Mountain Power

13:11    Physical space and its role in innovation and GMP’s INSPiRE SPACE. “Can Architecture Make Us More Creative?” by Jonathan C. Molloy

16:54    Break 2

17:09    Boundaries or lack thereof at GMP

21:24    Break 3

21:46    M&A at Green Mountain Power and the ability to soar

25:13    Break 4 – leading to the conclusion of the program

25:28    Mary Powell’s leadership that draws upon her upbringing and liberal arts education

27:40    Famous Last Words – Seneca “Mihi crede, verum gaudium res severa est.” Epistulae morales, 23, 4

28:06    Preview of upcoming Episode 20 and Patricia Kampling, CEO of Alliant Energy in Madison Wisconsin. 


Biographies of Guests


Ms. Mary Powell


Mary Powell is nationally recognized as an energy visionary, positioning Green Mountain Power as a leading energy transformation company.  Delivering clean, cost-effective and highly reliable power to customers all across Vermont, GMP offers cutting-edge products and service to reduce costs and carbon.  In 2017, GMP was named one of the top 10 energy companies in the world by Fast Company.  GMP has also achieved the top score for mid-sized utilities in the East Region in J.D. Power’s 2016 electric utility residential customer satisfaction study.


Mary has served as president and chief executive officer for GMP since 2008.  She initiated and implemented a strategic and comprehensive restructuring of the company that dramatically transformed GMP, and she has been the backbone of a cultural transformation and service quality improvement.  Fast, fun, and effective is her motto.  Under Mary’s leadership, GMP became the first utility in the world to become a member of B Corp, showing a commitment to use energy as a force for good.


Mary has delivered on an ambitious energy vision to provide low-carbon, low-cost and highly reliable power to Vermonters.  As a result, GMP became the first utility to offer to help customers go off-grid, built Vermont’s largest wind farm, made Rutland, Vermont, the Solar Generation Capital of New England, and installed smart grid technology across GMP’s service territory.

Program Disclaimer

The only purpose of the podcasts is to educate, inform and entertain. The information shared is based on the collection of experiences of each of the guests interviewed and should not be considered or substituted for professional advice. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experience and conclusions, and neither The Leadership Lyceum LLC nor any company providing financial support endorses or opposes any particular content, recommendation or methodology discussed in this podcast.


This podcast Leadership Lyceum: A CEO’s Virtual Mentor has been a production of The Leadership Lyceum LLC. Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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