2019 has proved to be a rewarding year for two Southern Company employees. Both Paul Sabella and Molly Aeck received recognition from industry peers.
Sabella, director of enterprise risk and business assurance for Southern Company, is the inaugural recipient of the Richard G. Muzikar Award presented by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and American Gas Association (AGA) Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) Committee.
The award acknowledges those who continue the legacy of Rich Muzikar and demonstrate excellence in risk management benefiting people, society and the utility industry. Muzikar is a long-time Con Edison leader and advocate of the risk management profession.
Sabella was selected by his peers based on the following criteria:
When asked about the implications of the work beyond the tagline of the award, Sabella replied:
“As Tom Fanning always states, value is a function of risk and return. It is our goal to optimize the relationship between risk and return by establishing a culture and risk oversight structure that encourages sound risk taking balanced by effective risk management practices.”
Sabella has been managing the ERM Program for Southern since 2011 and credits his growth and success to some timely career advice that he received from Mark Lantrip.
“Years ago, Mark Lantrip gave me developmental guidance that challenged me to approach situations with a much more strategic mindset. He suggested that ERM could be the perfect area for me to grow this skillset. To get beyond the numbers and see the big picture implications to the entire enterprise.”
In 2014, a small group of five ERM leaders from various peer utilities (including Sabella) created the EEI ERM Task Force that later became the EEI ERM Committee. It now includes approximately 50 gas and electric utilities and over 150 members.
The mission of the committee is to provide a central venue within EEI and AGA for member companies to hold discussions and exchange information related to risks facing the industry and provide a means to share ERM practices to assist members in enhancing their programs.
Leadership in New Ventures
Aeck, new ventures director for Southern Company, has been recognized by industry magazine “Public Utilities Fortnightly” on its special inaugural “Fortnightly Under Forty” list saluting “the next generation of up-and-comers in the utilities industry.”
The magazine noted that Aeck, who among other things focuses on strategic investing, emerging technology and business model innovation, established a platform allowing Southern Company to “take an active role in the industry’s innovation equity fund Energy Impact Partners (EIP) by assisting in strategy development and fund investing priorities. She then worked to create cross-functional teams across the utility to analyze potential technology investments and make recommendations to the fund on which emerging companies represent the greatest potential opportunity.”
Along with overseeing the company’s investment in EIP, Aeck works closely with PowerSecure and supports Southern Company’s regulated operating companies in the origination and development of new business ventures.
Aeck is a Fulbright Scholar with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University and a master’s degree from Columbia Business School. In 2004, she received a MAP Sustainable Energy Fellowship from Stanford to lead renewable energy research and consulting for the Worldwatch Institute. She spent the next decade working in clean energy project development and technology investing including at EcoSecurities, a carbon finance startup that was acquired by JPMorgan, and Allotrope Partners, a Bay Area venture capital firm.
Public Utilities Fortnightly is the flagship publication under Public Utilities Reports, Inc., a leading provider of industry news in the electric, natural gas, water and telecommunications industries for over 85 years.