Helen Wesley is president of Peoples Gas, where she leads a diverse team responsible for the safe and reliable delivery of natural gas to more than 425,000 customers across Florida. With a keen focus on the state’s clean energy future, Wesley is positioning Peoples Gas as a leader in sustainable energy solutions through investments in emerging fuels such as renewable natural gas.
Strategy and strategic planning
Innovation and technology
Human dynamics of safety management
Helen has nearly 30 years of energy industry experience — regulated and unregulated generation
and transmission and distribution, upstream and downstream oil and gas, and commodity chemicals and
pipelines. She has worked throughout North America as well as internationally in a variety of senior strategic and operational leadership positions, most recently as chief financial officer.
A few minutes with Helen
Q: What contribution(s) are you the proudest of in your career? I’m most proud of the things that were the hardest, took the longest, and involved the most people. I’m very proud of working to remove barriers and achieve outcomes that we didn’t think possible. A few projects like that have been really big milestones in my career, and there are always a lot of other names and faces conjured up when I reflect back on those moments.
Q: Who were some of your role models/mentors especially in the earlier stages of your career? I spent the early days of my career with a lot of exposure to many key leaders in the company and I can’t honestly imagine being where I am without their contributions.
I had the benefit of working with a CEO who believed in taking on a lot of different roles to gain broad experience. That approach enabled me to benefit from some incredible job changes and opportunities. It also helped me to build leadership skills early in my career. I would advocate for anyone to take on a role that has broad people leadership responsibilities as early as possible because I think that’s what allows you to learn the most about yourself as a leader. The earlier you do it the more forgiving people will be when you mess up, which you inevitably will!
Q: What advice would you give women who are beginning or considering careers in the energy industry? It took a while for me to learn this, but I’d say don’t focus on the fact that you’re often the only woman in the room. Just be yourself and build relationships and learn. I was fortunate to have been raised in a household where I learned how to work with tools and change my car tire and other handy life skills like how much luggage to pack when traveling (no more than you can carry by yourself!).
If you see something you’re interested in and want to do, get yourself trained and educated so there are no excuses for you not being able to pursue what you want! There’s just no substitute for hard work.
Q: What future developments in our business are essential to the growth of Peoples Gas? We have a great deal of opportunity to grow in Florida in different ways – whether through residential, commercial or industrial growth, and at the same time supporting decarbonization for our company, and Emera as a whole.
We also have all the DNA and the ambition to make sure that our growth is achieved thoughtfully and in a disciplined and strategic way. We have a great brand reputation, great people, and a natural gas-friendly policy and regulatory environment. We have to maintain a keen focus on these things while we grow.
Q: What or who inspires you? In general, I think honesty and humility while helping people do great things are what inspire me. I have some very good friends who are big inspiration to me as well– we have shared our trials and tribulations and most importantly, some good laughs as we’ve navigated the last 25 years or so of business and personal lives! Learning to share your vulnerabilities, fears and mistakes is the biggest door opener to expanding yourself, in my view.
Q: What brings you joy? My kids and husband are my biggest joys in life – I can’t think of anything that’s happened over the past almost three decades I would have been able to accomplish without my partner by my side. And our kids have been a huge source of (mostly!) joy.
I also really like to be outside, to read, to escape into a good movie, and to climb the leaderboard made up of total strangers on a Peloton ride. My friends and family are always “with” me – and I’m very thankful for that.
Favorite quote: “Now that we can do anything what will we do?” -Bruce Mau
Good reads: I’m a huge reader, so I will happily take on any biography or story of success or challenge. I love reading anything Indra Nooyi from PepsiCo. has written. Tina Brown, former editor of Vanity Fair was another iconic leader and very humble in telling her story of challenges and mistakes (“The Vanity Fair Diaries”). And Richard Hytner, former CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi Advertising, wrote a wonderful book about the different forms of leadership.
Community Involvement New to Florida, Helen is happy to represent Peoples Gas with the Tampa Bay Partnership and CEOs Against Cancer. She also will sit on the board of directors for the Southern Gas Association. She is a Charter Financial Analyst and holder of the ICD.D designation. Prior not-for-profit board experience includes Hospice Calgary and CARE Canada.
Peoples Gas is Florida’s largest natural gas distribution utility and a subsidiary of Emera Inc., a geographically diverse energy and services company focused on producing and delivering cleaner, affordable, and reliable energy.
Peoples Gas has ranked highest in Customer Satisfaction for Residential Natural Gas Service in the South among Midsize Utilities eight years in a row, and for Business Natural Gas Service in the South two years in a row.