President & CEO
Tucson Electric Power – UniSource Energy
By Tara Kirkpatrick
When Susan Gray started working in Tucson Electric Power’s male-dominated operations group, her coworkers called her “the girl.” But now they call her President and CEO – the first woman ever to lead the 129-year-old company.
The longtime Tucsonan and former University of Arizona swimmer – one of just a few young women in her college electrical engineering classes – has risen steadily through the TEP ranks from intern to CEO and is now working to usher in an exciting new era of clean energy for the region.
“Susan’s potential was obvious even during her earliest days at TEP,” said David Hutchens, CEO of TEP’s parent company, Fortis, and Gray’s predecessor. “She came prepared, learned quickly and never settled for just doing things the way they’ve always been done. She helped make sure our 129-year-old utility company was ready for a new century of service to Southern Arizona.”
“I had a lot of people pour confidence into me when I was growing up,” said Gray. “I believed I could do anything and that the only limiting factor was my own belief in what I could do.”
She now hopes to inspire the next generation of women to follow, starting right inside TEP. Gray co-founded Women in Energy, a leadership development program to inspire and equip women to be successful. “We’re continuously working to bring this support not just to women, but to the men who work alongside us,” she said.
“As I was considering starting this resource group at our company back in 2015, I heard from one employee that she was never invited to go to lunch with the men in her department,” Gray recalled. “They’d talk shop over lunch and when they all convened for a meeting later that day, the path forward was already decided. My gender wasn’t a barrier I couldn’t overcome, but as I heard these stories, it became clear that not all women were having my same experience.”
Gray values listening as the gateway to effective leadership. “At its core, listening is about discovery, which is critical as our industry navigates dynamic change and drives innovation. Sometimes leaders think they have to have the best ideas, but more often than not, the best solutions come from the collective whole working together to create better outcomes. This value has really begun to permeate our organization.”
Hutchens couldn’t agree more. “She listens, collaborates and makes sure that everyone feels connected to our vision and mission, which helps her get the most out of our team and produce great results.”