Senior Director, Energy Efficiency, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)
What do you consider your greatest strength, and how do you think it benefits your business?
I think one of my greatest strengths is my ability to assess situations and then make fact-based decisions with a touch of calculated risk (if necessary). As a result, I have been able to lead large organizations and high-profile initiatives with success.
Who inspires you? What did they motivate you to achieve or accomplish?
My dad inspires me to this day. While I do not think his story is unique, I think he is a unique person. He joined the military at age 18 and became a military police officer. He always stressed the importance of education, and he always treated me and my siblings with compassion.
How do you motivate others?
As I have grown over the years, the greatest gift that has been given to me in my corporate life is being drafted to participate in a five-day trek in the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina along with 20 comrades from various organizations. During that time, we eventually dropped all of the corporate positioning and the reasons our companies had sent us on this trek. After all, no showers or bathrooms will make things get real in very short order! As a result, I found my ability to be authentic. I understand now, more than ever before, that my effectiveness as a leader is grounded in my ability to connect with people in a very sincere manner.
What do you think is the greatest issue or dilemma facing the African American community today?
As an optimist, I focus my thoughts on the greatest opportunity that is in front of all of us. With the advent of social media and smart devices, the world is getting smaller every day. Now is the time for us to understand that we can and should be actively engaged as global citizens—first in our immediate communities. Yes, there are systemic issues in this country that have created ecosystems that seem insurmountable. The key word is SEEM. I believe that until we (in the collective) make a fundamental change in what we expect from each other as global citizens, and hold each other accountable for our successes and shortcomings, things will continue to SEEM insurmountable.
How do you give back to the African American community?
I have served on nonprofit boards that focus on educating youth, giving people second chances, and exposing everyone to the arts. I also make it a point to visit schools and talk about my career, and ask the kids what is happening in their lives. Most importantly, I am actively engaged with my family as a husband and father, just like my dad was with me and my siblings.
What’s the most important lesson you have learned in the course of your career?
Don’t chase success. Put in the work regarding your education, your craft, your network, etc., but most importantly, find your purpose and embrace it. Once you do that, I truly believe that good things will happen as a result.
What advice would you give to someone just beginning his or her career?
Develop expertise in your chosen field. Understand the qualitative aspects of what makes you unique and position yourself so that those attributes are assets to you. Be patient and enjoy the journey.
What is your favorite quote, and why?
This is a quote that I have carried with me for the past 20 years. The interesting thing is that when I first read it, it meant something very different to me than it does now. Twenty years ago, it meant to go hard and excel at the corporate game. Today, it means have the courage to stand for what is right and be your own person regardless of the critics. I think life has a gift for all of us in this way, if we avail ourselves to its lessons.
“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who errs, and comes short again and again (but)….who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt (1910)
Bravo, Vincent! Great interview. I agree that authenticity and the ability to sincerely connect with others is what differentiates great leaders from the average leaders. Also a positive outlook on the world and the sincere belief that everyone has strengths that can be tapped and developed for the good of the organization and for the individuals themselves.
What a classy interview. So proud to call Vince my friend and former classmate. His success comes as no surprise. Well done.