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Consumers Energy CEO: Tap Into Your Employee Melting Pot To Tackle Business Solutions

As one of the region’s most successful leaders, Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe says collaboration is the fuel that can drive the growth of a business. She also says that giving employees a voice at the table offers them a sense of ownership and pride in a company’s long-term vision. Poppe, a Detroit Regional Chamber Board member, sat down with the eDetroiter to share her secrets for business success. Read the Q&A below.

Hear more from Poppe at the upcoming Inside the CEO Mind event April 19 at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham.

You were named in Crain’s “100 Most Influential Women.” To what do you attribute your success and what is the biggest lesson you can share with aspiring organizational leaders?

I attribute my success to having the ability to harness the power of others and being able to get a team of people committed to an outcome instead of pushing an individual agenda, alone. It is better to be effective than right. I have learned that there are times when I may be right but if I force my authority or power, I will not be effective.

In your opinion, what should be the next steps for the Detroit region to foster business growth?

For the economy to grow in any region there must be a supportive business community. Encouraging local businesses to work together when contracting for supplies and services is a must; that’s why we helped establish Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC) and continue to encourage our Michigan-based suppliers and contractors to pay it forward. When Detroit businesses work together, the community will succeed.

How does Consumers tackle the issue of attracting and retaining talent? What can others learn from your success and/or challenges in that capacity?

We attract talent with our strong employment brand, commitment to customers and inclusive culture. We retain talent by offering fulfilling careers where a person can bring his or her full self to work and succeed. Our employees tell us that their work offers them a deep sense of pride and purpose. Everyone comes to the table with a unique perspective, and it is important to recognize that a melting pot of ideas propels a company to succeed.

If you were to give your 20-year-old self some business advice, what would it be?

You can have it all! Surround yourself with people who encourage and enable you to do what you were uniquely born to do so that you can make your mark on the world.

What is most important to you and your organization – mission, vision, or core values? Why?

At Consumers Energy we make promises every day to be Michigan’s trusted energy provider, delivering affordable, reliable energy and valuable services to enable our customers’ quality of life. It is important work because our customers are family, friends and neighbors.

What are the most-important strategic priorities for Consumers in the coming year? How will you gauge success?

To create a culture of continuous improvement through the Consumers Energy way of doing business: working safely, completing work right the first time, at the lowest cost and on schedule. Focusing on safety, quality, cost and delivery provides us with a strategic advantage so that we can continue to deliver on the promises we make to Michigan each day.

Hear more from Poppe at the upcoming Inside the CEO Mind event April 19 at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham.