It's our pleasure to introduce to you one of our most dedicated Young Leaders Society members, Angie Rodriguez. Over the years, she's made El Paso her home and proudly shares her appreciation for what this city has to offer. Read on to learn more about what this young professional is doing with her career -- her accomplishments are truly incredible.
1. Tell us about yourself.
I was born in a country that no longer exists! I was born in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Most of my childhood I lived in Ukraine, a country bordering Russia. I was a very curious and restless child. I tried to learn everything I could about the world around me. In school, I participated in many extra-curricular activities. I was a cast member in the school theater where I gained self-confidence in public speaking. I was also professionally trained to play guitar and sing.
On the weekends, my family and I went to our summer house where we grew all sorts of vegetables. It was hard work, but it taught me to appreciate the food we put on the table because I knew where it was coming from. Growing-up my passion was free music styles like blues and jazz. I focused on dynamics and improvisations of these two styles and was able to win several guitar competitions as a result. I wanted to continue studying music or theater when I graduated from high school but my father insisted I study business. Looking back, I am glad he convinced me to attend business school. The business school educated me in formal English and facilitated a summer internship to the United States. I worked in Myrtle Beach, SC that summer where I enhanced my English tremendously. I came back home and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Entrepreneurship. In 2008, I met my husband who was the reason I moved to El Paso.
In 2015, I achieved two major educational milestones in my life by graduating with an MBA in Finance from UTEP and earning a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. But no matter how many degrees a person has, I think it is important to continue your education throughout your lifetime. For that reason, I enrolled at NMSU and I am happy to say that I am graduating with a Graduate Certificate in Public Utilities Regulation and Economics this month. I speak four languages including Russian, Ukrainian, English and a little bit of Spanish.
I’ve worked for the El Paso Electric Company for five years in the capacity of project manager of the Texas Community Solar Program and eSmart Thermostat project. I serve on the Advisory Board of the Young Leaders Society where our goal is to engage a new generation within our community and develop a future leadership of the society. I am a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters organization where I am mentoring an 11-year old girl. I am also a volunteer for the Make-A-Wish Foundation granting wishes to children diagnosed with critical illnesses.
2. What's your favorite thing about the El Paso community?
I like El Paso because it simply feels like home. I love that people here are very friendly and kind. Even though I am not from here, I have never felt more welcomed and at home anywhere else but here. I like the good weather that we are lucky to have which allows us to stay outdoors year around. The Sun City has given me a lot of opportunities that I did not have in my native country of Ukraine and I am forever grateful for all this community has given me. I strive to give back to the community by leading new environmental and customer-oriented projects as a part of the El Paso Electric team, serving on the Advisory Board of Young Leaders Society and volunteering for many good causes with a focus on education and youth development, all of which are important to bring change and sustainable results to this great community.
3. What personal or professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am most proud of implementing the first Community Solar program in the El Paso area as a part of a great team of individuals at the El Paso Electric (EPE). This innovative program provides access to solar energy to all customers including homeowners, renters, and business owners. There are no credit checks or income limitations anyone can subscribe. The energy supplied for the program comes from a 3 megawatt solar facility owned and operated by the EPE. As a result of the attractiveness of the program, it was fully subscribed in less than one month. As a part of the EPE’s team, I am currently leading efforts to expand the program to allow more customers in the El Paso community to participate in this exceptional program. I do want to say that I would not be able to achieve any of this without the people that supported me: my dear husband Manny, my parents and my few but true friends Rachelle, Tony, Joyce and Maritza. They are my rock, my backbone and the reasons I can sustain large amounts of work and stress. I am so grateful for them in my life. Because of them, I am able to be where I am today. Nicholas Tejeda, a CEO of The Hospitals of Providence, said it best during 2017 ENGAGE Summit: “What is the most important asset that we have in life? People!”
4. What's the best leadership advice you've ever received?
I am a finance major so one of my favorite leadership quotes comes from Janet Yellen who recently served as a Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. She said: “Listening to others, especially those with whom we disagree, tests our own ideas and beliefs. It forces us to recognize, with humility, that we don't have a monopoly on the truth.” I agree that as a leader in a position of power it becomes difficult to admit your viewpoint might be wrong or that your subordinate has a better idea. Even after hearing your subject matter expert opinion and realizing their idea will bring the best results, some managers choose to not accept those ideas simply because they were not theirs. This attitude compromises good results and slows down growth. In contrast to authoritarian type leaders, good leaders are not afraid to admit their initial idea was wrong. They take their time and listen to all information available to them before making a decision. They prefer to surround themselves with employees who can challenge them and bring a different opinion into consideration. I am working on becoming a servant leader who is not afraid to be wrong but to be honest. It’s a work in progress. No one has a monopoly on the truth.
5. Why did you decide to become a member of the Young Leaders Society?
I see a lot of good changes happening in El Paso and I thought that I want to be a part of this great movement. I attended one of the Wine & Wisdom events and learned that Young Leaders Society was the organization that engages and empowers young professionals in El Paso to work together to improve our community. Through this organization, I met many like-minded individuals and I thought to myself that if we work together, we will achieve greater things for this community than if we work on our own. I feel privileged to serve on the Advisory Board of Young Leaders and will continue to work on bringing more people together to make the El Paso community a better place to live.