Florida Power & Light’s Pam Rauch: Lessons Learned Leading Through Hurricane Ian

In this edition of our Corporate Competitor Podcast, Maxwell Leadership Thought Leader Don Yaeger sits down with Florida Power & Light executive Pam Rauch to discuss what playing tennis at North Carolina taught her about preparing herself and her team for the worst that can happen.

 If you walked into the headquarters of Florida Power & Light Company — the third largest electric utility company in the U.S. – during its storm dry run, you would think there was a hurricane barreling toward you. And if you followed each storm team across the different departments, you’d think you were in the middle of a military operation.

At the same time, it’s very much like a team, and that’s exactly how Pam Rauch, vice president of external affairs and economic development, wants it to feel. She learned about preparedness not on the frontline of storm recovery but on the backline of countless tennis courts, where her father coached her to see how sports could teach you important lessons.

“My dad believed that sports created artificial obstacles that taught you how to handle obstacles in life,” remarked Rauch. “His goal wasn’t to train future professional tennis players, but to prepare his three daughters to navigate life.”

Rauch navigated the tennis court well enough to captain her University of North Carolina Women’s Team, and she navigated her career well enough to spend 10 years practicing law in Palm Beach County before joining FPL, where she has climbed the corporate ladder in her 23 years with the company. Thanks to her experiences and leadership, the good citizens of Florida have been better off despite enduring some of the worst storms in recent decades. Of the more than two million FPL customers who recently lost power during Hurricane Ian, for example, 50 percent were back up within 24 hours.

Listeners to the podcast will learn how Rauch taught herself – and trained her team – to prepare for disaster, while keeping themselves mentally flexible enough to handle problems as shifty and unpredictable as hurricanes that “change course at the last second.” Leadership lessons include:

4:30   How to balance preparation and adapting.

10:00  How to optimize your own leadership skills.

11:00  How to optimize your team’s leadership skills.

17:30  Why you need to create “artificial obstacles” to reach your full potential.

18:45  What it was like to be in class at UNC with Michael Jordan.

26:00  How to reinvent your job to play to your strengths.

29:00  Step-by-step process to foster innovation using everyone’s ideas.

Although Rauch excelled in an individual sport, she feels one of her strongest lessons drawn from athletics involves the feeling of camaraderie that comes from “having a mission” bigger than any individual. “When you join a team,” she noted, “no matter how talented you are or think you are, you have to earn your stripes. You must earn the trust of your colleagues or teammates.”

Check out the full Corporate Competitor Podcast interview archive and subscribe to new episodes.


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