Girls Takeover 2023: The big questions from our US event

To celebrate International Day of the Girl on October 11, Girls Takeover gives girls all over the world an opportunity to step into the roles of senior business leaders for a day.

The aim of Girls Takeover is to raise awareness of equal power, freedom and representation for girls and young women. This year, we’ve partnered with Plan International to run Girls Takeovers in both the UK and US. The theme of our takeover is putting women at the forefront of the transition to net zero.

Leela chairing meeting with women leaders for Girls Takeover

Girls Takeover: Women in leadership lunch

16-year-old Leela took Brooklyn by storm as she stepped into Rudy Wynter's role as President of National Grid New York. A key part of Leela’s takeover day was to lead a lunch discussion with New York women leaders, where she had the opportunity to ask questions about women in STEM, sustainability and climate equity.

Shri Madhusudhan, VP Operations Support for New York, elaborates on her experience with Leela: “Meeting Leela was an empowering and inspiring experience. Throughout the lunch she asked inquisitive questions that stimulated a passionate discussion amongst us women leaders at National Grid. Following our day together, I offered to mentor her, giving us the opportunity to grow and learn from each other. She's an intelligent young woman with a bright future ahead and I am excited to see her thrive!”

Leela facilitated an impactful and thought-provoking conversation that emphasized key issues many women face. The questions she asked focused on how sustainability and climate change impact women across the US, if gender is a boundary and about the personal experiences of New York women leaders.

These are some of the points discussed by Leela and National Grid's women leaders:

1. How did you get into the energy industry? 

Rochelle Murray, Senior Supervisor in Customer Meter Services, explained that she emerged into the energy industry by accident. She’s found that the women around her have looked out for and assisted her along her journey.

On the other hand, Karen Young, Director of Media Relations for New York City, deliberately chose to work in the energy field. As a customer who observed the operations in another state, she saw that it was an engaging industry and wanted to take part in it. She’s also felt supported by the women around her, saying: “Every time I made a move, a woman was there.”

Shri Madhusudhan started her career as an attorney, knowing she wanted to change lives and help others achieve their full potential. She admires that National Grid’s culture is inclusive and empowers people. Leaders are committed to fostering a diverse workforce, including expanding women’s roles in the operational space.

Leela chairing meeting with women leaders for Girls Takeover

2. Is gender an obstacle, advantage, or both? 

Jessica Leis, Senior In-House Counsel, stated that when she entered the legal profession as a criminal defense lawyer, she was hard pressed to find many other women in the field and found that she wasn’t taken as seriously as her male peers. In the courtroom, she noticed that too often a woman's appearance was given greater attention than her legal skills. 

Rochelle Murray expanded on her experiences in field operations, where she saw very few female coworkers. Women in the field lack resources that male peers don’t have to consider, such as private bathrooms and lactation spaces. She explains that in her career she has encountered doubts towards her ability to accomplish aspects of her job. Her mantra is: “Think I can’t do it? Give me a minute.”

Carol Decina, Principal Program Manager, started as an administrative assistant as that was a typical track for women at the time of her early career. Upon joining National Grid, she simultaneously worked and received her undergraduate degree and subsequently her master’s degree. Navigating through the male-dominated workforce was difficult but she persevered.

Senior In-House Counsel, Jesseka Green, explains that although gender may be an obstacle, her parents have always taught her never to be intimidated by others. We all have different skills and talents that make us unique, and she embraces that. Knowing that she may be underestimated based on her gender allows her to work harder and make her presence known. She said: “Gender is not a weakness, it’s a superpower!”

3. As women, do you feel you have a responsibility to take steps toward accessibility and sustainability for marginalized communities?  

Renee McClure, Director of Community and Customer Management for New York City, emphasizes that it’s vital for National Grid to focus on reaching communities, providing information about customers’ energy choices and reminding them that they can receive energy efficiency support from the community team. She also reaffirmed that we must have continuous interactions with the individuals we work with, to develop a relationship of trust.

Karen Young added that an integral part of National Grid’s culture is to participate in volunteer work, such as the New York-based Project C, which focuses on supporting the people and communities we serve with sustainability programs, neighborhood development projects, grants and more. 


Find out more about Girls Takeover in the UK and US