In the midst of a successful energy career, Melissa Brown realized the industry was quickly changing. After running financial and regional operations on the generation side, she wanted to broaden her experiences by working on the transmission side of the industry.
“I saw the power grid becoming a more critical factor in delivering affordable, reliable power for individuals and the overall economy. MISO offered me the opportunity to apply my knowledge at an organization leading grid operation and innovation,” Brown said.
Brown joined MISO Feb. 27 as senior vice president and chief financial officer.
“Working for an organization with a compelling purpose and clear goals was very important to me as I considered my next role,” Brown explained. “In every interaction with MISO, I got a sense that this organization is on a unified path – everyone is working to achieve the same common vision.”
With an educational background in economics, finance and business administration, Brown spent most of her career with large power generation companies.
“I began as a ‘numbers’ person, moved into corporate financial planning and on to business development.” She worked in progressively challenging jobs at Calpine Corp., NRG Energy Inc. and AES Corporation.
Dispatched to Australia for the first time in 2003 and then again in 2013, Brown twice helped lead troubled power plants from the brink – first as an on-the-ground manager and later as a consulting advisor.
“It was in a role covering operations from A to Z,” Brown noted. It was the kind of eye-opening experience her formal education could not provide.
“Working in both Australia and Puerto Rico were small scale examples of how power supply reliability can be impacted by generation planning not being strongly linked to transmission planning,” she said.
Throughout her life, Brown has drawn inspiration from her mother, Marie.
“I learned early from my mom to overcome challenges. My mom didn’t go to college, but she worked in power plant operations and ultimately owned her own business. She went further than anyone expected. She is a great role model who taught me to chase my goals and to not be afraid of hearing ‘no’.”
Brown also credits managers throughout her career who helped her succeed.
“Many times I had managers who possessed more faith in my ability than I did,” she recalled. “Those leaders helped me stretch my skills in breadth and depth.”
Brown encourages aspiring leaders to do the same.
“Look for opportunities to stretch your skills – to get out of your comfort zone,” she says. “Change opens the door to new opportunities and a chance to grow. Seize those opportunities when they come along.
“Each and every day, all of us at MISO have the opportunity to make a difference through the service we provide and value we deliver as a Regional Transmission Organization,” she concluded. “That’s something to be proud of.”