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 Maritza Iacono, a utility strategy director based in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Would anyone you grew up with be surprised that you went into corporate finance?
No. Math was always my best subject. And in high school and college, statistics was my absolute favorite class. Who says that, right? Not many people. I was pretty financially savvy even at 15. I’d save almost everything I made.
What led you to your current role?
I started out as a financial analyst, then worked in rates and regulatory, and then I was the finance director supporting the fossil-hydro generation operations. I loved those jobs, but I love what I do now even more.
Why do you love what you do now more?
Well, I used to be focused on just one part of our business – fossil-hydro generation. Now I interact on a daily basis with subject matter experts from every part of our Florida business. I get to see the big picture in Florida – our growth and customer-focused strategies, our infrastructure upgrades, everything. And working with the state president’s team, I get to help shape that big picture, which is enormously satisfying.
Do you enjoy the changing nature of your job?
I do. I’m not doing the same thing day in and day out. If we have a gap in a particular area I just jump in and get up to speed. That variety in my work helps because I have always been a super high-energy, inherently curious person. My poor parents. Of course, my karma is that I now have two energetic, curious, high-energy little boys just like me.
Why do you enjoy working with this company?
The truth is I enjoy the people I work with. We genuinely have good people working here. We’re a big company and so we have tons of opportunities. I’ve had several different roles within the company and have enjoyed wearing different hats.
What was your most memorable moment working for Duke?
Oh, that’s an easy one. In 2004 during Hurricane Charley, I was a newly minted senior financial analyst. There was so much storm work to do that they deputized all of us in the company to help in the storm effort, and I was in charge of communication with external key leaders. I happened to be volunteering at the Clearwater Emergency Operations Center, and suddenly this reporter asked me if I could step into another room and answer a few questions about the storm. Well, I had this ragged piece of paper in my hand with a few storm facts I felt comfortable that I could convey to the media, so I said, “Sure.” What I didn’t realize was that I was being shoved into a press conference that was carried live on every Florida TV channel and radio station. And underneath my name it said, “ company spokesperson.” Every reporter in the room peppered me with questions and all I could think was, “Um. I don’t know. I’m a financial analyst.” It took me a long time to live that down with my co-workers. I still freak out a little when I see news cameras around.
What advice would you give to young girls interested in pursuing a career like yours?
Get good grades, of course, but probably more important is get involved in your community. It sets a great foundation for your career. Find mentors. And also, this is more targeted to the younger workforce: Be patient. Learn the job. Pay your dues. Don’t treat everything as just a stepping stone to bigger and better things. Give yourself time and take every job seriously. Ambition is great, but you have to build on the fundamentals before you can move on.
“… Working with the state president’s team, I get to help shape that big picture, which is enormously satisfying.”