We’re commemorating Women’s History Month and today kicking off a series of blogs, spotlighting a few of the hundreds of women at CPS Energy, who make up roughly 25% of its diverse workforce. These women serve in various capacities, from executive and leadership roles, to auditors and engineers to equipment operators and foremen. Many are trailblazers, and all are making a difference in the lives of our customers and in our community.
Today, we shine the light on ArDeanna Hicks, a 13-year veteran with CPS Energy.
ArDeanna attended G.W. Brackenridge Multilingual High School in San Antonio, which she recalls had a then state-of-the-art TV studio and where she fell in love with broadcasting. At just 14 years old, she held her first job at the KCHL Gospel 1480 radio station in San Antonio. ArDeanna earned bachelor’s degrees in both communications and sociology from Texas A&M-Kingsville as well as a master’s in communication studies from St. Mary’s University.
Her career path took an unexpected turn when she was in her mid-20s and accepted a position with the Bexar County District Attorney’s office. There, she was introduced to professions and ideologies that focused on serving the public, and she discovered her true passion in life.
“I am truly a public servant at heart,” says ArDeanna.
The Director of Gas Compliance is one of about 42 female executives and one of about 800 total women at CPS Energy serving the company’s natural gas and electric customers and the growing Greater San Antonio community.
ArDeanna, a doctorate candidate in Leadership Studies at Our Lady of the Lake University, is a member of the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) and Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics. Also, she serves as a General Board Member and Bylaw Committee Chair for the National Forum of Black Public Administrators (NFBPA).
We recently sat down with ArDeanna to learn more about her professional and personal experiences.
Q: You have a broad range of experience at CPS Energy. Tell us about your career with the company.
ArDeanna: I started with CPS Energy in September 2009 as an Ethics Manager, responsible for the coordination of the company’s Ethics Program. I later served as Executive Business Program Manager for our EVP & Chief Delivery Officer, Senior Manager of Customer Experience, Senior Manager of Talent Development, and now Director of Gas Compliance. So, yes, I have a lot of broad experience, working in business areas across our company – People & Culture, Customer Success, Energy Delivery Services and Compliance & Ethics. It’s given me the opportunity to learn more about the complex energy industry, and to develop and enhance my skillsets and relationships, making me a more well-rounded leader.
Q: Tell us about your role as Director of Gas Compliance?
ArDeanna: I provide compliance and regulatory support for the company’s Gas Solutions team, compliance and regulatory oversight of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) obligations, and oversight of our Corporate Compliance Management tool.
Regulatory requirements are tied to everything we do. We have to ensure we’re meeting regulatory obligations even in managing our everyday operations. This includes, among other things, when we’re installing natural gas services, replacing or making repairs to gas lines and infrastructure, and performing natural gas inspections.
Q: Has being a female working in the energy industry presented any challenges, and if so, how have you overcome them?
ArDeanna: Yes, there are challenges, especially when you factor in that I am a compliance officer in the energy industry. I am often the only one in the room that looks like me; however, over the years, I’ve learned how important it is for my experiences and perspective to be represented in those spaces. That helps me to embrace the challenges and not allow them to discourage me. I also seek guidance from other women who are familiar with successfully leading in male-dominated spaces.
Q: What piece of advice do you have for other women to help them be more successful in their careers?
ArDeanna: Don’t quit. Even if you have to regroup, don’t quit! Women wear many hats; it’s easy to get lost in those roles. Remember who you are and never allow that to be lost.
Q: In 4 words or less, how would you describe yourself?
ArDeanna: Introvert with extrovert tendencies. This was solidified for me during the pandemic.