As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we’re recognizing a few women at AEP who inspire us. In this Q&A series, we share their stories—from how they joined the industry to their inspirations to their advice to other women.
Cherie Long leads the more than 150 AEP Ohio lineworkers, meter electricians, work schedulers and other distribution operations employees who work out of our six service centers in northwest Ohio: Bucyrus, Findlay, Kenton, Lima, Tiffin and Van Wert. She just celebrated her 30-year anniversary with AEP last summer.
Read below as Cherie shares more about herself, her job and advice for those interested in a career in energy.
How did you get into this business?
I had been in credit unions for about six years and was a collections officer when I got laid off. During that time, there was a lot of instability—factory jobs were coming and going and there were not a lot of consistent opportunities. I knew I needed to get into a business with some stability.
My aunt had just retired from AT&T at the time and recommended I get into the utility business, so I applied for a job at AEP and was hired as a customer service representative. I quickly realized this is a great place to work. There are so many opportunities.
In what ways has the industry evolved?
Our company is so employee-focused. Whether it’s supporting employees’ mental health, encouraging their wellbeing or just looking out for each other—at AEP, we really do care. The company has worked really hard to make this a place to hire good people and keep them.
Who inspires you?
I’m inspired by many of the leaders I work with. Carla Simpson was a director at the line school in Fort Wayne. I met her when I was in customer service and later went to work for her in Meter Revenue Operations. She was always so positive. She encouraged me to go to school and was even one of my mentors. Carla had a great outlook and was just an awesome person. Michele Ross is also a great friend, as well as Rob Sturtz. Really, I’m inspired by all of the district managers on my team. They’re all so bright and talented.
In addition, I’m very inspired by the local frontline employees, too. They continue to remind me why our work is so important to the people in our communities, and why it’s important that we take care of them.
What advice would you give to young women looking to pursue a career in energy?
Get your degrees, for sure. Look for those degrees that are right for the positions you’re interested in. And remember your commitment. This is what we do: We take care of our community—it’s the reason we’re here.