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Behind the Scenes With Julie Orben

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I started with the company in 1986 as an energy services consultant selling heat pumps. I will admit that when I took the job at 22 I had no clue what they were other than some sort of pump that pushes warm air to keep you warm.

Today I work with our large business customers and have benefited from a company that has given me flexibility and opportunities to grow and learn over 26 years. I love the variety of my job. One day I can be working with our operations staff after a storm that leaves some of my customers out of service. Another day Iím working with a customer who wants to take advantage of our energy efficiency programs to save money and energy. Thereís no such thing as a typical day. I get a lot of satisfaction in exceeding my customersí expectations and anticipating their needs.

Most people know that my husband, Chip, also works at Duke as our southeast district manager. What most might not realize, though, is that when we first started at the company, we interviewed against each other, which is how we met. The company ended up hiring both of us, but for different jobs. At that time, because of company policy, we had to get permission in order to be married and continue to both work here. I still have the letter from my supervisor giving me the OK to get married "as long as it didnít affect my performance at work." Those were different days when women were also discouraged from wearing pants and we used typewriters instead of computers.

I think our company today is a model for family-friendly workplaces. We have an 18-year-old son Devon, who is a college freshman, and Corrine and Kristen are 12 years old and in middle school. Iíve been fortunate to work a flexible schedule to raise them. The girls have told me they hope to one day work for a company that gives them options so that itís easier to have a family and a career. Weíre definitely a Duke family, and the company has been great to us.

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