Behind the Scenes with Doug Esamann
Believe it or not, I grew up down the street from the company where I'm Indiana president today. I knew many of the employees through my parents, although I will admit that back then I didn't necessarily know what went on at the company that was then called Public Service Indiana.
When I began working there in 1979 as a staff accountant, the transition from Indiana University to work life was relatively easy because this was my hometown, but also because of the warmth and openness of the people at the company. Over the years, I've worked with a lot of people here who have inspired me. People like Don Schlehuser, one of my first managers who counseled me that "If you don't have your integrity and reputation, you don't have anything." Or Chuck Winger, who was controller at both PSI and Cinergy, our predecessor company. Chuck's rigor and scrutiny in preparing the annual report was legendary, but his sheer dedication and work ethic were difficult to match.
The company's rotation program for accountants at that time exposed me and others to a variety of company departments and pushed us out of our comfort zone. It was Don who encouraged me to move to the Tax Department. I didn't see the value in making the shift, but trusted Don and decided it was better to embrace change and learn as much as I could from the experience. I ended up working in tax for nine years and was head of the department at the time of the merger that created Cinergy. Al Barker also set a great example for people to follow. He is a man of great faith and humility and has had an even greater impact on my life and career today since my move back to Indiana. And I have to give a great amount of thanks to our current CEO, Jim Rogers. He has created an environment where ordinary people like me have been presented opportunities to grow and develop. Because of Jim's vision, leadership and willingness to drive change in our industry, I have had opportunities I would never have gotten elsewhere.
While my responsibilities have changed over the years, the one constant has been the people at our company. I get so much inspiration from our employees each and every day but, in particular, when they respond when nature hits the hardest and power needs to be restored. Those situations typically involve long hours and difficult workóboth in the field and at offices that support the work to bring the lights back on.
Last April we had storms that inflicted heavy damage to our southern Indiana power system. After first restoring service to more than 80,000 Indiana customers, there was still massive damage to repair. The winds crumpled a string of 35 large aluminum power transmission towers spanning a distance of nearly 3 miles and affecting four major power transmission circuits. For three weeks, working 7 days a week, line workers labored in difficult conditions, most times deep in mud, to repair the structures. The days were long and the work was treacherous. They were away from their families for an extended period. But they stayed until the job was done and a major artery to much needed power generation was restored. They represent the type of company we are and make me proud to say I'm a Duke Energy employee.
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