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 Swati Daji, a senior vice president of fuels & systems based in Charlotte, N.C.
What’s your day-to-day work like?
My days are never the same. What I do has so many moving parts, it’s almost like being an air traffic controller. Lots of things are in flight and in flux. On a daily basis, I am working on plans with traders, dispatchers, meteorologists and our transmission teammates to make fuel commitments for the next seven days. We are constantly updating our seven-day and five-year plans to ensure we have enough generation resources to serve our customer energy needs reliably and cost-effectively. I’m trying to do two things: get the absolute best prices for everything we need and making sure our power plants never run out of fuel. So it’s economics, operations, planning, strategy and logistics all at the same time. It’s never dull I can tell you that.
Why is what you do so important?
Fuel costs are about 30 percent of each customer’s bill. I literally feel the burden of that responsibility every day. I work hard to ensure low costs for our customers by figuring out how to optimize our power generation assets and markets, and purchasing and delivering fuel in the most cost-effective way.
What drives you?
Status quo is never satisfactory to me. I always want to challenge the norms. I want to make sure we’re doing things the best way possible so it’s cost-effective for our customers.
Why do you do what you do?
I have a great team. They make me want to come to work. Their excellence and passion for creating value for the company and the customer are unparalleled. When you work with people who share your passion, work is not work – it’s something fun you get to do. It’s an exciting time to be working in the energy sector. Things are changing so fast and it will be very different in future, and we need to figure out how to position the company to succeed in the new future. What is more exciting than that? It’s invigorating.
What advice would you give women?
Seek out challenges. It’s okay to fail as long as you learn from it. Stand up for what you believe in. Be noticed. Have an opinion. A job is something you do, but a career is something you love to do. If it’s something you love, you’ll do better and have fun doing it. We’ve all had positions where we think, “Oh, this is not me.” That’s okay. Find something else. You will never have everything. But you need to make the best of everything you have. A great life has passion, fun and possibility.
What do you love about your job?
I’m always learning. In my career, I’ve always tried to pick roles where I can learn and contribute at the same time. I’m simultaneously adding value and getting value from the role. Luckily, I’ve never had to leave Duke Energy to find new and challenging roles.
“A job is something you do, but a career is something you love to do.”
Click here to meet our other extraordinary employees at Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas.