In this month’s Board Spotlight, we’re proud to share words of wisdom from Jennifer Eugene, a member of WDCEP’s Board of Directors. Jennifer currently serves as Manager of Utility Sales for the Washington Gas Utility, bringing a plethora of accomplishments and expertise along with her.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from someone else (at any point) in your career?
Jennifer Eugene (JE): “Remember that a job doesn’t give your life meaning.”
I learned how to see the beauty in everyday happenings, engage my introverted self with many kinds of people, and I was happy to try new hobbies with a passion. My career of over 35 years is one I love because I molded it into one that fits me. I am fortunate to have experienced many jobs; the best ones are the ones that are defined as non-traditional career jobs for women.
How does community play a role in your day to day at work?
(JE): As the Manager of Sales for the Washington Gas Utility, community involvement plays a critical role in my day-to-day work activities. I lead the company’s outreach initiatives, partnerships, and economic development that are focused on builders and developers, urban planners, engineers, architects, energy policymakers, and the customers we serve to support our local economy with natural gas that is an affordable, reliable, sustainable, foundational energy choice.
Washington Gas’s economic development supports regional growth and prosperity through the improvement of our region’s energy security, infrastructure, transportation, housing, and economic resiliency. Robust natural gas infrastructure is critical to meeting these needs. Partnering with the public and private sector, Washington Gas is committed to fostering regional economic growth by serving our community’s energy needs.
Several years ago, I had the pleasure to work with our partners on an energy efficiency improvement project at the Harrison Recreation Center located on V St NW in the District. For 170 years, Washington Gas has been part of the Washington, D.C. metro area and our role in the community goes beyond providing energy. We have a long-standing commitment to service and to making a difference in the lives of our customers, our employees, and members of the communities we serve.
The Washington Area Fuel Fund, Employee Community Service Program, and Charitable Grants encompass our signature corporate philanthropic program.
What does leadership mean to you?
(JE): “A leader is somebody whom people follow. A leader has authority. For people to accept a leader, his or her leadership must therefore be legitimate.”
I view leadership as inspiring others to work together toward a common goal. It encourages and enables people to do their best work. Leadership is understanding your strengths and weaknesses and those of the team, then leveraging individual strengths to compensate for particular weaknesses and overcome insurmountable challenges. It is recognizing that a team is more than the sum of its parts, and people work best when they work together.
What has been an invaluable learning lesson from a challenge you’ve faced in your career?
(JE): Just because someone tells you they are helping you advance your career, positioning you for greatness, does not mean he/she has your best interests or will deliver on any promises made to you.
Don’t be afraid to pivot your career direction, and don’t wait for someone to tell you to do it. Many people believe it is their boss’s role or their company’s role to define career success and how it will be obtained. Early on in my career, I had this belief. If only I had heard a voice in my head telling me, you’re wasting your time and don’t believe the promises. You are in charge of yourself, your career, and anything you want to do with your life.
What is something you are excited to either solve or spearhead in the next five years?
(JE): Wow, that is a big question and a tough one. I’ve always found it challenging to share my personal side with others; however, in five years, I want to be living my best life to support others. I think, first, I would like to have explored my love of photography more, have continued to refine my skills further, and really become confident in my voice and work.
Second, I think about creating a channel of uplifting online experiences for beginning photographers: primary camera education, understanding their art and voice in composition, and their mindset, to help them experience and document their visions and deliver memories of their lives forever through the art of photography.
As for some vast dreams, I would love to have had a solo exhibition, sold work commercially, and worked on a self-help book integrating my photography collections, but then I am from the school of “dream big or go home.” Honestly, I may be on my journey longer than five years!