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Darla Moore School of Business

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‘A deeper learning experience’

Energy company manager strengthening business decision-making and leadership abilities with Professional MBA program

Professional MBA program student Conitsha Barnes decided to get her MBA after more than 20 years with Duke Energy Corporation so she could enhance her foundational business knowledge and add to her leadership skills.

Having held eight positions in close to 24 years with the power company, Barnes said she has learned many skills “on the job” with Duke Energy, a U.S.-based company which is among international entities striving to provide cleaner and more renewable energy.

With an established career at Duke Energy, Barnes recognized that she still had some key hard skills she could reinforce by completing an MBA program.

She selected the Moore School’s Professional MBA program so she could continue working full time while getting her degree.

She also appreciated the opportunity to learn from other professionals from a variety of industries and the focus on in-person learning, even in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she currently lives.

“I recognize the opportunity to learn from other professionals with working experience would support a deeper learning experience,” Barnes said. “The Professional MBA program allows me to attend class in-person while offering the flexibility to join remotely as needed.”

As Duke Energy’s regulatory affairs manager, Barnes leads and supports regulatory matters, including the development and support for regulatory initiatives such as new customer programs and offerings, special tariffs, cost recovery proceedings and implementation of the company’s service regulations in North Carolina.

Even in the first three months of attending the program, Barnes said she is already applying her course work to her job duties.

“There have been several skills that I have evolved within the first three months of the program that include time management, communication, leadership and teamwork,” she said. “Although we recognize that our work environments are enriched with diversity of thought, I have learned to pause and acknowledge the differences of individuals for the best outcomes. These are skills that I expect to continue to evolve, along with critical and strategic-thinking skills and risk-management skills.”

Barnes was able to practice her leadership skills when Duke Energy had to pivot services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Barnes helped support vulnerable customers in early March 2020 by facilitating discussion between her colleagues and customer advocates in North Carolina as Duke Energy suspended disconnections for non-payment and waived certain fees that were detrimental to those experiencing financial hardships.

Looking ahead, Barnes sees the energy sector evolving with organizations’ commitment to cleaner energy at the state, national and international level.

As Duke Energy explores more sustainable practices for the company and the overall energy sector, Barnes anticipates applying what she’s learning in the Professional MBA program as part of Duke Energy’s leadership team.

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