PPL Corporation: mapping the plan for an exciting future
Major infrastructure improvements and a wave of expected retirements mean many anticipated opportunities at this international utility
PPL Corporation is one of the largest investor-owned utilities corporations in the United States. Founded in 1920, PPL serves more than ten million customers in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. The company owns more than 18,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. and sells energy in key U.S. markets.
“We are planning to invest heavily in our infrastructure, to the tune of $8 billion over the next several years,” says Kimberly S. Patterson, talent and workforce management vice president. “That sets the stage for the kind of continued excitement we have about being in this industry and the commitment we have to serving our customers well.” It may also set the stage for hiring in critical areas.
PPL engages in strategic workforce planning. “We evaluate the organization in order to make sure we always have the talent, skills and knowledge necessary to continue PPL’s success,” she says. Recent investigations indicate that approximately 60 percent of the PPL workforce will be retirement eligible within the next five to ten years. “That tells us there will be tremendous opportunities for personal and professional growth,” Patterson says. She anticipates an ongoing need for IT and engineering professionals, with the hiring of more than seventy engineers and forty IT professionals during the next twelve months.
Recruitment at PPL
Openings for senior network engineers, information assurance specialists and business systems analysts are posted on the company website. “Typically, IT positions at the senior level require a degree and five years of experience,” Patterson notes. On the engineering side, the company usually hires entry-level employees as supervising engineers, power system engineers, transmission engineers and field engineers. Patterson adds that PPL has a variety of recruiting campaigns including listings with online job boards and military outreach sites.
“We have an extensive internship and co-op program for college students,” Patterson reports. Sessions take place during the summer, fall or spring, depending on the student’s school schedule. In addition to learning job-specific skills, students are introduced to the company’s core values, which include safety, security and commitment to excellence. The students also have the opportunity to meet with management leaders.
“We enjoy and benefit from the local talent,” Patterson says, “but we also have students who come from as far away as California, Florida and Puerto Rico.” And diversity is growing at PPL, she reports. In 2012, 34 percent of students were from a diverse group; in 2013 the percentage was 38 percent.
Developing professionals and the community
Diversity and inclusion training starts on day one of employment at PPL, according to Patterson. “Part of the orientation for new hires is to help them understand the importance of inclusion and valuing different opinions, backgrounds and contributions,” she says. “However, it’s not just a one-day orientation. We try to drive that sense of unity throughout the business and in all the decisions we make.”
PPL has a number of avenues for advancement within the company. The performance management infrastructure provides a mechanism for people to understand what’s expected based on their strengths. It also includes both internal and external programs and opportunities.
PPL has business resource groups for African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Christians, the younger generation, LGBT, women and military veterans. Each resource group has an executive sponsor as well as an employee president or liaison. The executive sponsor and the resource group lead participate on the PPL diversity council, where they discuss governance issues and share information and best practices.
The company regularly hosts educational programs for teachers and students. Among the workshops’ titles: Students as Observational Scientists; Learning Through Investigation; Wild About Shad; Wonderful Wetlands; Nuclear Energy Seminar; People, Land and Community Education; and Think! Energy. Each workshop offers curriculum supplements and activity guides or materials that could be easily incorporated into a teacher’s lesson plans.
PPL sponsors a summer tech camp targeted to middle school girls, and also works with local technical trade schools on curriculum development. A program for seventh and eighth-grade Latino students allows them to shadow a PPL employee for a day.
Patterson sums up, “There are many opportunities for our employees to participate in outreach initiatives that help parents and students in the community understand the robust career paths at PPL and in the industry.”
||17,000 in the U.S.
||$12.2 billion (2012)
||Utility delivering electricity
and natural gas to 10 million
customers in the U.S. and U.K.