serves as chairman, president and chief executive officer for Duke Energy
. He is currently in his 25th year as a CEO in the electric utility industry. Rogers was named president and CEO of Duke Energy following the company’s merger with Cinergy in 2006, and continued in that role following the merger with Progress Energy in 2012. He served as Cinergy’s chairman and CEO for more than 11 years, and prior to that, as chairman, president and CEO of PSI Energy.
Rogers has served as deputy general counsel for litigation and enforcement for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC); executive vice president of interstate pipelines for the Enron Gas Pipeline Group; and as a partner in the Washington, D.C., law office of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Prior to those appointments, Rogers worked as assistant to the chief trial counsel at FERC; as a law clerk for the Supreme Court of Kentucky; and as assistant attorney general for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, where he advocated for the state’s consumers in gas, electric and telephone rate cases. Rogers was also a reporter for the Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader for three years.
Under Rogers’ leadership, Duke Energy has been recognized as a leader in sustainability – balancing the “triple bottom line” of people, planet and profits. In 2010 and 2011, the company was named to the elite Dow Jones Sustainability World Index; it has been a part of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for North America for the past seven years.
He earned his bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Kentucky, and lives in Charlotte, N.C.
How do we encourage students to continue their study of STEM subjects, particularly women and underrepresented minorities?
It’s easy for us to speak about the benefits of a STEM education. But I think the real drivers are the teachers. They’re with students every day, and they have the ability to really embed STEM in everything they say and do. That’s why we’re involved in a few projects that offer STEM educational development programs for teachers from all types of schools. These programs use the best of what’s known about these subjects to help educators develop the skills, knowledge and resources they need to become reflective practitioners in their classrooms.
What do corporations need to do to create more STEM careers and fill existing jobs?
Partnerships are key. Like others, we continue to develop alliances to build a pipeline of energy workers. One way we do this is by partnering with line-worker academies and nuclear operator programs at community and technical colleges. We provide programmatic support through funding, equipment, instructors, curriculum development, scholarships and employment opportunities for graduates.
We also join forces with universities to develop the next generation of energy expertise. For instance, our foundation gave $4.5 million to support UNC Charlotte’s Energy Production and Infrastructure Center
, which is focused on training new engineers and conducting research in energy technologies. The center will eventually be an educational resource for engineering students from many universities and colleges, and a national laboratory for cutting-edge technologies that will shape our industry.
Duke Energy is also aligned with the Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD)
to pilot the Get Into Energy Career Pathways
program. The CEWD is working through state Energy Workforce Consortia
<– partnerships of energy companies, educational institutions, and state labor departments and workforce agencies. The intent of the program is to hire and train 500 low-income young adults for energy-related careers by the end of this year. Duke Energy is supporting this program by offering employment, training and opportunities for career advancement to selected participants in our service areas.
How has your corporation coordinated investments in education with future workforce needs?
We’re able to take a macro view of the characteristics of our workers, and then identify future trends. For instance, well over half of Duke Energy’s workforce is made up of “traditionalists” and “baby boomers” who will be considering retirement in the next decade or so. Our workforce planning groups continually monitor the company’s demographics, forecasting areas in which the company will need to recruit new hires, based on changes in demographics and required skills.
This is how we really got going with STEM years ago. We took a hard look at our workforce and we saw a need. Then we saw a major gap when we looked at forecasts for future energy workers. This prompted us to become very proactive in terms of programs that sustain and promote STEM education.
We definitely see the value in our work beyond just building a pipeline of workers. It makes a difference in our communities, too. We know that good workers tend to be more active and engaged in their communities. So it really comes full circle.
What is the key to smart STEM investments?
I think investments have to vary. For instance, some companies can get so caught up in external STEM programs that they forget about their own workforce pipeline – like the “Generation X” and “Millennials” that you already have on staff. These employees are from a different generation. They don’t necessarily want to spend their entire careers in one industry or with one company. That’s why we need to work hard to retain employees, and a reason why we need to remain competitive in terms of benefits.
We also need to continue to develop these employees to fill the shoes of others who may retire. Duke Energy encourages employees to continue their education. And we help out with financial support. We’ve found that this pursuit of educational opportunities contributes to employee development and morale, as well as organizational growth.
What do we need in the US to continue to be at the top of global innovation?
The U.S. and American companies have a lot of work to do to keep their place at the top of global innovation. First, we must embrace the work that other countries are doing – and even partner with them. Duke Energy has formed many partnerships in China. Why China? Well, the Chinese are on a building spree in terms of power plants. They are fast building hundreds of coal-fired plants and more than 20 nuclear plants. Plus, China is building more wind and solar generation this year than many U.S. utilities have in their entire fleet. And we’re along with them the entire way. Being plugged into this effort is a great way to learn lessons, avoid mistakes and bring that knowledge back to benefit our customers in the Americas.
The second thing we need to do is to work harder to retain human capital in the U.S. Tens of thousands of international students come to our country for undergraduate and graduate degrees, only to apply their intelligence overseas. We need to try harder to keep these brilliant minds in the U.S.
How is your company connecting diversity initiatives with STEM initiatives? Is this part of your comprehensive strategy?
Supporting STEM initiatives aligns with our overall goals to help build strong and resilient communities, and to attract, develop and retain a diverse, high-quality workforce. In both good and bad economic times, our success depends on the strength of the communities we serve and our employees. These two factors really go hand in hand.
And STEM is actually part of our sustainability plan and goals. We believe that innovative public/private partnerships to improve science, technology, engineering and math education, workforce skills and quality of life impacts our sustainability lifecycle.