We’re celebrating Women’s History Month this March by introducing you to 10 women who help power your life at Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas. They advance our company with their vision, talent, hard work and creativity. These trailblazing women – including a nuclear engineer, astrophysicist and lineman – reveal inspiring stories of persistence, pluck and achievement in largely male-dominated fields. A diverse workplace isn’t just a nice idea, it’s a competitive necessity. Today, meet Yolanda Carter, an Operations Supervisor based in Nashville, Tenn.
What do you do?
I supervise a group of eight Piedmont Natural Gas pipeline inspectors and two operations representatives. I’m responsible for an eight-county district in Central Tennessee. We make sure natural gas projects are being installed safely according to code and engineering specifications. I’m very proud of the team I oversee. They’re an incredible group of talented people.
How do you check for safety?
We use a variety of tools to verify the status, strength and safety of our pipelines. These tools range from in-the-field leak surveys using sensitive detection equipment, to in-line inspections and hydrostatic pressure tests, which is where we take the pipeline out of service, fill it with water, and raise the internal pressure of the pipe to test it.
What led you to this field?
In 1990, practically out of high school, I began at Piedmont Natural Gas in the custodial department. I would clean the office building and attend to employee needs. The position gave me the opportunity to meet and network with various employees and understand what each department did. That’s how I carved my career path. One year later, I moved into the Customer Service Department. Then I decided to go back to school and get my associate degree in civil and construction engineering. I got a position in the Construction Department and kept going to night school. I later received my bachelor’s in industrial engineering technology from Tennessee State University. Last year, I received my graduate certificate in project management from Trevecca University.
Why do you think you’re good at your job?
I’m very prepared. I’m also organized, some may say overly organized. I like to have the areas we are working in on a color-coded map, for example. I’m very detail-oriented. I love to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. Now, I don’t put that expectation on others, but it has certainly served me very well.
What were you like as a child?
I grew up in a large, loving, protective family. I received good grades in school, but I really struggled with math. My parents hired tutors, but I struggled until I had a teacher named Miss Brent. Somehow the way she explained math on the board made everything click for me. I completely changed my opinion of myself. I wound up excelling in math. I even went on to teach math to students in an adult education program at Nashville State Community College and train teachers on my methodology. It’s very gratifying to help people in need.
What advice would you give young women thinking of following your career path?
If you’re good at mathematics, like to solve problems and come up with new innovative ideas, engineering technology might be the way to go. Keep dreaming and pushing forward. Don’t get discouraged. Just continue to hang in there and step over obstacles. Once when I was going through a hard time at work, a co-worker said to me, “You have a lot of talent, and I can’t wait to see you blossom.” I drew strength from those words. If you work hard, you will go far. Maybe not as fast as you want to, but you’ll get there.
“I completely changed my opinion of myself.”