My job rocks
TVA employees are on the job 24/7, keeping the lights on, running the river system, managing TVA lands and supporting TVA’s operations. In this column, you’ll hear from TVA employees who can say, “My job rocks!”
General Manager, Customer Service — West Tennessee, Memphis
Gary Harris, 50, serves as the primary interface between TVA and the power distributors for all customer-related business matters in West Tennessee.
“I like the interaction with the power distributors and their customers. I like the diversity among the distributors. Some are co-ops [owned by the subscribers], some are munis [owned by towns or cities]. Some are rural, some are urban. Some serve primarily residential communities, some a mixture including industrial customers.
“I especially like to interact with the distributors’ boards of directors. They tend to represent a cross-section of the communities, and they really help you understand what’s important to those communities and what TVA needs to do to best serve them. I also enjoy providing solutions to problems that benefit TVA, power distributors and their customers.”
In 16 years at TVA, Harris has been the manager of Green Power Switch, an organizational-development consultant in TVA University, a manager in Procurement, in strategic planning and regional accounts.
“When I was a small child in Bakersfield, Calif., I remember going to the fields with my grandmother, who picked cotton alongside migrant farm workers. I tried it, but it was too hard. In junior high and high school, the only way to make money was to go out and chop cotton or work in the orchards in 105-degree heat. That was part of my motivation to do well in school and get educated.”
Harris, a self-described hard worker, says he never forgets his grandfather’s advice: ”Don’t try to outsmart people, just outwork them.”
In a management-development program at Chevron, Harris was inspired by Brian Tracy’s Psychology of Achievement program, which he took, then taught, then brought to TVA. “It talks about the choices you have to make in life and that you can control your destiny. It’s very applicable to our work at TVA.”
Living by those principles is one reason Harris was recently named the Energy Professional of the Year by the Tennessee Chapter of the American Association of Blacks in Energy, a first for a TVA employee. “I get to represent TVA to the public, and I take that very seriously,” he says. “I take a lot of pride in that. I am the face of TVA to the West Tennessee Power Distributors.”