Editor's Note: The July issue of the Carlsbad Business Journal features a Q & A with our Senior Vice President of Electric Operations David Geier as part of its Visionary Voices series on regional leaders. In the Q&A, Geier talks about what it takes to be a good leader and provide clean, safe and reliable energy to 3.6 million people.
Visionary: David L. Geier, Senior Vice President, Electric Operations, San Diego Gas & Electric
San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is one of Sempra Energy’s regulated California utilities. SDG&E is an innovative San Diego-based energy company that provides clean, safe and reliable energy to better the lives of the people it serves in San Diego and southern Orange counties.
What piece of advice have you received that has helped guide you?
As head of electric operations for SDG&E, my highest priority is ensuring we provide clean, safe and reliable power to the 3.6 million people that rely on us every day. That inevitably comes with challenges. However, those challenges always present opportunities. Opportunities to do things better, to innovate, to give back and to exceed our customers’ expectations. Early in my career, Ed Guiles, SDG&E’s former Chief Executive Officer, offered me a singular piece of advice. He reminded me that in business there are always going to be challenges. It’s not the challenge you will be judged on, however, but how you responded that matters. That’s something that has always stuck with me.
Tell us about a challenge you’ve experienced during your tenure and what helped you overcome it?
The challenges we face as a company are varied and wide-ranging. Meeting the unique energy needs of a growing and diverse region such as ours inescapably results in diverging but equally important points of view. I have always subscribed to the adage that “the customer is always right” and strive to operate by that mantra. It is critically important to peel back the layers of the onion to really understand the needs of each customer. I always seek to find a solution that is mutually agreeable to all parties. It is not always possible to make everyone 100 percent happy, 100 percent of the time, but I have found throughout my career that by acting with integrity and engaging in an honest dialogue, a resolution is almost always achievable.
What other business leaders do you look up to?
I am most inspired by those who seek to improve their communities and make the world a better place by giving back. One of those people is Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Through innovation he changed the world with technology, but it is through philanthropy that he is working to make the world a better place. Gates has also served as the inspiration for those innovators that followed in his footsteps. There are many locally who have in-spired me by their tireless work to make a positive impact on our region. Among them are former SDG&E Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jessie Knight, who was instrumental in the success of our company, industry and the community. Also, former mayor, police chief and champion of business Jerry Sanders, who has dedicated his career to public service.
What advice would you give to someone entering a high-level leadership role?
There is nothing more important than maintaining your personal integrity. It is the one thing you will always have absolute control over. Learn from your past and provide leader-ship to the future. There is a lot we can learn from the past that applies to future endeavors. It goes without saying, but enjoy what you are doing because you are going to be doing it a lot. Finally, take care of your family. Creating a work life balance is more than just a corporate buzzword; it’s imperative to success in life.