Peggy Smyth wanted to be US President as a child. She might not have achieved that ambition – yet – but she’s still a high-achiever. As Chief Financial Officer of National Grid in the US, she’d love to inspire more women to join the energy sector’s efforts working towards a net zero future.
When I was a child, I always said that I would be the first woman President of the United States. I always had ambition to be a leader. I hope that in the very near future we do see a woman president, but as for my own career, it took a different path when I decided to go into accounting. I have a Masters degree from New York University Stern School of Business, in accounting and a BA from Fordham University, in economics.
I joined National Grid in 2014. I was drawn to the company because it had incredible potential, to grow our core business and with future growth in exploring clean energy. I also knew the finance team could be a key driver for the business and I wanted to lead the group in a new direction.
I’ve had many career experiences on the way to becoming Chief Financial Officer and I’ve learned and grown from each one.
My career is giving me the chance to change the world through working toward a decarbonized energy future. How cool is it to be able to say that? This is what motivates me to work as hard as I do. We’re making the world a better place and we’re helping families and business to get the energy that they need each day. The opportunity to work for an organization with this purpose is important for me.
If I were talking to young women considering a career in the sector, I would say ‘what are you waiting for? We are changing the world.’
I’m excited about the role I’ve been able to play in bringing the topic of sustainability into our finance discussions, asking questions about how we can integrate sustainability into our accounting and investment decisions and moving the business forward in these areas.
Speaking from my experience, working with other senior women leaders, we get the job done. We’re creative thinkers, collaborative and inclusive, which helps us to drive toward the end-result and get outcomes. It’s also important that these outcomes are visible; that women in leadership positions are known and recognized for achievements, so that we can help other women to rise and have the opportunity to lead.
If I were talking to young women considering a career in the sector, I would say ‘What are you waiting for? We’re changing the world.’ We have an opportunity, given our structure and scale, to influence the direction of the energy industry and to make energy cleaner and more affordable for people. We are working every day to make people’s lives better, providing them with heat, light and power. It’s a great time to join the energy industry and there are many opportunities for women to help lead the way.
My proudest achievement is my family. I’ve been married to my husband for 32 years and I have two sons, who I truly feel are heaven sent. They’re the most important thing in my life.