Sarah Powell, a forestry supervisor, has been in the industry for 23 years. In her role, Powell serves the Western, Canton and Newark districts. She spends her time making sure trees don’t cause power outages for our customers, working with different departments to ensure tree crews are completing work safely and on time. She spends most of her time out at worksites talking with tree crews. Work planners do the initial communicating with homeowners who have trees that will be trimmed. When customers have additional questions, she explains how tree trimming helps keep the power on.

She didn’t set out to be a forestry supervisor, but during her senior year at The Ohio State University she attended a career fair where she connected with a tree company that does business with us and quickly became interested. Sarah has had the opportunity to serve in a number of different roles including contractor, work planner, forester and reliability crew member.

Read below as Sarah shares more about her life both inside and outside of AEP Ohio.

What made you want to become a utility forester?

I was an outdoor kid. I’ve always loved learning about nature and science. Learning about the way electricity works was very fascinating when I began working at AEP Ohio. I learned that I could combine my love of nature with something else that was super interesting.

How has the industry changed or evolved since you first started? How has your role evolved?

My responsibilities have evolved as I’ve changed positions. I’ve gone from work planner to forester and now to a forestry supervisor. At the same time, the industry has also changed. One of the biggest changes we’ve had is our technology. When I started, we did our tree trimming work planning on maps and everyone had a pager. If someone needed you, they would page you and you would have to go find a phone to call.

Now a lot of our work is done on laptops and iPads. Our tree trimming work planning is done on apps and everything is captured digitally. Technology has really changed the way we work.

Our communication with customers has also changed. We use social media and the Nextdoor app to let customers know about our tree trimming work in advance. Before we had these tools, knocking on doors was the only way to notify customers of maintenance. All of this technology has allowed us to become much more efficient and serve our customers better than before.

What advice would you give to other women who want to break into the industry?

At AEP Ohio, we’re always looking to diversify our workforce and would be more than happy to welcome more women to join us. Women wanting to get into the industry shouldn’t let stereotypical ideas get in the way of looking at utility work as a potential job. The utility industry offers great career options. There’s a lot of variety, which keeps it interesting.

Who is the woman who inspires you the most?

My mom. She’s been through a lot of adversity in her life and she always keeps a positive outlook. She’s someone who looks to help others. She’s really valuable to everyone and I strive to also be that kind of person.

What I like the most about being a supervisor is that my purpose is to support my team. We’re here to serve customers and help keep the power on. I’m always working to find solutions for my foresters to ultimately better serve our customers.

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