After 17 years with Southern Company, I accepted an opportunity with TVA in 2007. I had built my career and professional identity with Southern Company, so the decision to leave was incredibly difficult. I brought new ideas and a different way of looking at things to TVA, which fueled my growth and allowed me to bring value to many projects. When I returned to Southern Company in 2013, I brought an even broader perspective.
The support of my family and colleagues has always been a contributing factor in my decisions to take on new roles. I have been very fortunate to surround myself with people who encouraged me to undertake new challenges and remain positive. Along the way, I learned I do not have all the answers, and that it’s vital to both lean on and support others. Being able to build and maintain a talented and innovative team has been central to my success. I maintain a constant focus on growing and developing Southern Company’s employees, because they are our most valuable asset.
On Getting People to Know Who You Are and What You Can Do
The best way to stand out is to undertake new roles and opportunities. This adds to your portfolio of skills, while allowing you to work with diverse people who bring differing perspectives and fresh ideas. Almost everyone in business agrees that relationships and networking are important for advancing your career. Throughout my tenure at different companies, I have made it a point to hold countless “get-to-knows” with people in different roles and departments. I have learned a great deal from them and have built many strong professional and personal relationships as a result. It’s important for people to know you value them on a personal level. Taking time out of your day to find out about their family and interests is a great way to do build those relationships.
On the Importance of Role Models and Mentors
My role model and mentor was my father, John Scheibe. I know most people feel their parents have profoundly impacted their lives. However, my father not only helped guide and shape my moral and ethical standards, work ethic, and outlook on life, but he also influenced me to I attend and complete engineering school. During my freshman year, I failed a dynamics class. After finishing high school with nearly straight As, I was crushed. I doubted I had what it took to be an engineer and seriously considered changing majors. Many of my classmates switched after that quarter.
My father, showing no disappointment whatsoever, simply said, “Don’t worry about it. Take the class again, but make sure to get a different professor. Maybe that will make the difference.” He was right. I took it again and passed with flying colors. He didn’t make me feel bad about failing; in fact, he taught me to learn from it, adjust, move on, and never doubt myself.
Kim’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
Never turn your back on opportunities. Often we let opportunities pass because we feel we aren’t ready or the timing isn’t right. It’s important to remember that people present paths to us because they know we’re capable. With respect to timing, it’s usually never perfect. Get out of your comfort zone and go for it.