While relatively new to Tulsa and Public Service Co. of Oklahoma, Peggy Simmons has a firm grasp on the direction of the electric company, what she wants for PSO employees and her connection to the community.
Simmons, PSO president and chief operating officer since September, has worked for American Electric Power, PSO’s parent, since 1999. The wide range of positions that she has held in her career affects her leadership style.
“At one pointed I counted, and I think I’ve worked in over a half a dozen different departments over my 20-year career at AEP,” says Simmons, adding that her broad experience gives her a solid understanding of the company’s big picture and how to treat employees. “I believe people are more motivated when they feel valued and involved. We are all better served when we are willing to put others’ needs before our own.”
People feature prominently in her vision for PSO, which can be summed up in four words: safety, agility, diversity and inclusion.
“I firmly believe that our employees should go home in the same or better condition than they came to work that day,” Simmons says. “And I also don’t believe that it stops there. We are just as focused on public safety.”
Agility is necessary in the ever-expanding and evolving energy industry. Simmons says an adaptive framework allows PSO employees to have the skill sets and knowledge to meet customers’ needs.
Simmons also leads PSO in fostering economic development throughout Oklahoma.
“Ultimately … we want to be a trusted and valued energy partner with our customers and the communities we serve,” she says.
Simmons describes the importance of establishing and maintaining a corporate culture where all employees know that their opinions count. She says a diverse, inclusive workforce drives innovation, engagement with the community and PSO’s future.
Giving back to the community is another action that resonates with Simmons.
“Tulsa feels like home to me – a strong community feel where people genuinely want to help one another – and I’m fortunate to be a part of a committed and connected community,” she says.
She enjoys supporting young people, especially girls, and encourages careers in science, math, engineering and technology.
“It’s important to make sure that we are being a pathway for the future,” Simmons says. “We have to help impart wisdom on those who are coming after us.”
She supports the United Way – both in Ohio (her previous home) and Oklahoma – and serves on the Tulsa board of the nonprofit.
“I think it’s just a great way to aggregate resources to come around a common goal for the betterment of the community,” Simmons says. “I want to leave a light of optimism that inspires others to embrace differences and feel empowered to collaborate and be successful.”