​​​​​Please describe your current role:

I currently serve as the CEO of Public Sector Consultants (PSC), a nonpartisan public policy research and consulting firm in Lansing. 

How did you get into/what is your former experience in the energy industry?

I started out as a lobbyist for the Michigan United Conservation Clubs and one of my focus areas was energy policy. I advocated on behalf of the organization for state policies that promoted the use of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other low-carbon energy technologies to protect our natural resources. I then went to the National Wildlife Federation and worked in a similar capacity only focusing on the regional and federal level.

After working in advocacy for six years, I decided to make a change because I found discomfort in presenting only one side of the issue. My natural instinct is to find the middle ground in situations, where all sides can express their viewpoint and a solution is found that everyone can live with. It was this knack for consensus building and conflict resolution that drew me to PSC. I had used PSC’s research while in my advocacy roles and appreciated the role their research and factual information provided in helping move policy conversations forward — not based on opinions or ideology, but based on the facts. I have been at PSC for 20 years and am still energized by the work we do to break through ideology, partisanship, and drama, and enrich policy debates with facts and civility.  

What is some of the best professional advice you've received?

Bill Rustem, a former colleague and mentor of mine, always said that “it takes seven years to make a significant policy change.” From the time a policy concept is developed until it passes — seven years. What he meant by this is that it is important to take the long view when working in public policy, and to not be discouraged by the slow nature of this important work. Rather, have a growth mindset and when setbacks occur, learn from what happened and keep going. 

Why do you think it's important that women have a stronger presence in the energy industry?

The energy industry has a strong STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) focus and for a long time, women weren’t introduced to these types of career paths or were perhaps steered away because there was this perception that women could not be successful in this space. Today, however, we know better. Without this misperception of what women are capable of, we’re seeing with clearer eyes just how powerful and effective we are in this and all fields. Women are great thinkers, doers and leaders, and can do anything they set their minds to. Highlighting the exemplary women who are thriving in the energy industry helps to reset the narrative so that talent our society desperately needs can contribute their gifts and not be defeated before they even start.  

​What do you think it will take to advance women in energy policy and government, or are we already seeing that happening?
As far as policy goes, I think we’re already starting to see that happen. There’s been a lot of effort promoting STEM, and I think we’re seeing that effort bear fruit, including many women who are currently the heads of Michigan’s energy organizations.  

What words of wisdom do you have for someone just starting in the energy industry and which personal attributes or experiences do you ascribe to your success as a professional?
Get to know yourself! Reflect on your passions and interests and figure out what makes you tick. After doing some deep thinking in preparation for a speech I had to give a few years ago, I realized that my ability to resolve conflict and find middle ground is my “superpower” and is what helps me satisfy client needs and develop and encourage my employees, who continue to diligently grow our business.

And you know what? Everyone has a superpower: your most positive and impactful personality asset.

Before I realized mine though, I spent a lot of time tearing myself apart. Whether it’s the “emperor has no clothes” or “imposter syndrome” — some of us are marinating in doubt about our qualifications for a role and dismissing the very superpower that helps us be effective and/or our capacity to grow. The reality is that your superpower is yours and the only person who can take it away from you is you. Take that power and be confident in your ability to grow it and harness it for good. And while you’re at it, know that you can pick up more along the way. 

How do you navigate responsibilities outside of work while continuing to be successful in your career? 

​​I’m 100 percent dedicated to both being a mom and leading PSC, and I believe you really can have it all if you work for an organization that is flexible and promotes a work-life balance. I prioritize my child’s functions, while still dedicating 40+ hours a week to my work and doing a quality job. I am also very fortunate to have a great partner who helps make the balancing act possible.

Member Highlight: Julie Metty Bennett

CEO, Public Sector Consultants

Member, AWE