Meet Wanda J. Campbell, of Cultivare Leadership Development. Learn why she considers Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Abraham Lincoln her role models.
Meet her in person October 17-18, in San Diego at ADVANCE: The Power Conference for Women in Utilities, where she will discuss gaining support from leadership in the workplace and overcoming established perceptions.
Question: Name, title, company?
Wanda J. Campbell, Ph.D., PCC, Organizational Psychologist, Executive Coach, & Principal, Cultivare Leadership Development, LLC
Question: Family, hometown, where you live?
I live with my husband, Travis, in Columbia, Maryland. I have a 15 year-old step-grandson who is “the child I never had.” My husband and I are between dogs right now, but hope to be adding a Havanese rescue dog to our family in the near future.
Question: What is your utility experience?
From 1990 to 1998, I held various managerial roles as an industrial/ organizational psychologist in the Employment Testing Department of Edison Electric Institute, (EEI), the trade association of investor-owned electric companies. From 1998 until I left in 2012, I had profit and loss and operational responsibility as the Director/Sr. Director of this “separately-funded” nationwide employment testing consortium program. Particularly as the Director, and later Senior Director, I worked closely with talent management professionals in most of the investor-owned electric utility companies. I also had the opportunity to work with the legal departments, labor relations, and line management in addressing all legal challenges related to EEI employment tests. It is important to note that we and the companies that used our tests prevailed in all legal challenges that were not settled amicably. In my current role as an organizational psychologist and executive coach, I have worked with executives in the industry as a coach, facilitator of off-sites, and trainer.
Question: What do you like to do when you’re not working? Hobbies?
From spring to fall, I like to spend a great deal of my free time working in my gardens. When I’m not “playing in the dirt,” my husband and I enjoy collecting a variety of types of antiques from the latter half of the 19th century.
Question: Notable achievements?
- Built a financial reserve sufficient to continue to employ all my professional staff and invest in research and development during the “Great Recession.”
- Conceived of and oversaw the development of a “Career Assessment and Diagnostic Inventory,” which was used to help non-management employees in the electric utility industry identify career paths consistent with their strengths and interests.
- Conceived of and oversaw the development of a “realistic, job-related, interactive, online math tutorial” that was made available to companies in the electric utility industry. This tool, which was free to the end user, opened up opportunities for applicants and employees to overcome a frequent barrier to employment and promotion. It also enabled companies to achieve greater diversity in a wider range of skilled occupations.
- A reluctant male executive client was found to show a Median improvement of 250% on ratings of identified developmental areas following one year of executive coaching.
Question: Where do you see Women in Utilities in two years?
I think that we are most likely to see women advance in the area of Clean Energy.
Question: What is your biggest challenge?
I still don’t have enough time to do everything that I want to do. I’m making progress setting priorities.
Question: Who are a couple of your role models (and why)?
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Justice Ginsburg had the courage to go to Law school and pursue a legal career at a time when it was almost unheard of for women to do so. She worked hard against all odds, and became a champion of women and a proponent for equity for all. As a Justice on the Supreme Court, she had the courage to write pointed and compelling dissenting opinions. For example, in the Lilly Ledbetter versus Goodyear Tire and Rubber case, Justice Ginsburg encouraged Congress to correct the error made by the Supreme Court. Congress agreed and subsequently passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.
Lincoln possessed the ability to see beyond the immediate and rise above petty rivalries to achieve a transcendent goal. He had the fortitude to persevere despite terrible losses and setbacks, and the character and wisdom to put the needs of the nation above the desire for retribution. Throughout all of this, he remained a compassionate individual who was committed to higher ideals.
Question: What is one of your biggest goals (in life or business)?
I would like to write a book so that I can help more people than I could possibly reach through my executive coaching.
Question: What’s the biggest misconception you run into in your role (or what people seem to think about women in leadership positions at utilities)?
My experience early on was that there was a tendency to see women as not being up for confrontation. At one point I hung a framed photo of Cheetah cubs playing in a wooded area in my office next to my credentials. I only had one manager verbalize the underlying message.