By Carolyn Gray Anderson
Debra Reed, chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer of Sempra Energy, joined Dean Judy Olian as the first guest in the 2016–17 Dean’s Distinguished Speaker Series. Launching immediately into an explanation of the role of executive management in creating value for a company, Reed ranked “drive change” as the number one key to successful strategy development.
Reed, one of just 21 female chief executive officers of Fortune 500 companies, has been recognized every year since 2011 as one of Fortune magazine’s “Most Powerful Women in Business.” She joined SoCal Gas in 1978 and became the company’s first female officer a decade later. From 2006 to 2010, she was president and CEO of San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and SoCal Gas, Sempra Energy’s regulated California utilities. Thirty-eight years since she began her career, she presides over a company with $41.1 billion in assets, operating revenues of more than $10 billion and 17,000 employees who serve 32 million consumers with energy services in the U.S., Mexico, Chile and Peru.
In October 2016 Fortune published Reed’s “4 Things Every Woman Should Know to Get to the C-Suite,” which are: 1) bid farewell to your comfort zone; 2) cultivate a mentor; 3) embrace diversity; and 4) make your mark. In her conversation with Olian and an audience that included Anderson MBAs and many other UCLA students and faculty, Reed said, “I cannot stress enough the value of using all sides of the brain, getting out of the silos.” Her advice is to combine the analytical and the intuitive, and to build a team of people different from yourself.