Consumers Energy’s Victoria Moore has an amazing story to tell. From humble beginnings to Manager at Consumers Energy. Listen as she talks about her journey.
Bill Krieger: The views and opinions of the guests of the “Me You Us” podcast do not represent the views and opinions of Consumers Energy.
Bill: Hello, everyone, and welcome to Me You Us, a wellbeing podcast. It’s another wellbeing Wednesday here at Consumers Energy. I’m your host, Bill Krieger. Today, my guest is Victoria Moore. She is the manager of the network operations center here at Consumers Energy.
Victoria, if you’d introduce yourself, we’ll get the conversation started.
Victoria Moore: Hello, everyone. I am Victoria Moore, manager of the network operation center, responsible for implementing CNI demand response. I’ve been with the company 10 years. I just had my 10?year anniversary.
Bill: Congratulations. As you said prior to the podcast, “I’ve been here almost as long as you’ve been on Earth, so we won’t talk too much about that.” Let’s talk a little bit about what the manager of the network operations center does.
I noticed you talked about DNI, demand response, things like that. Some of our listeners may not know what the heck you’re talking about. What do you do for a living?
Victoria: We have a clean energy plan as a company. Part of that is the demand?response program. Now we think about emergencies we’ve had on the system when it’s overloaded, things of that nature. We’re always very reactive. We overgenerate electricity to plan for in case we hit too much load on the system, maybe for 30 minutes a year.
We decided to be proactive instead of reactive. We have commercial industrial customers, like your GMs, your manufacturing plants, metal melting plans. Even schools are in our program, we sign them up for September for the summer season for June through September.
They make a plan, and they say, “Hey, we are going to drop this much load when my cell calls on us to do so.” My cell is our operator for our region. Then, when they call an event, we implement our program. Those customers drop that energy. We’re about over 250 megawatts in my portfolio currently.
Bill: On those hot summer days, when everyone clicks on their air conditioner, we have certain customers that are saying, “Hey, instead of making more generation and generating more electricity, we’ll just stop using some for a while.”
Bill: That’s awesome. What a great way to look at it. The whole time I’ve been here, we’ve always talked about peak load or peaker plants and all these other things. Rather than do that, why not use electricity that we’re not using? Now we have residential customers on that as well, correct?
Victoria: Yes. Residential is its own program. We have several residential programs that are part of demand response with AC switches and smart thermostat, demand pricing, things of that nature on the residential side. I am on the commercial industrial side.
Bill: All right. Understood. Let’s talk a little bit about how you got here. When you were a little kid, did you walk around going, “Hey, I’m going to be the manager of the network operation center Consumers Energy.”
Bill: What were you thinking about being when you were growing up?
Victoria: When I was growing up, I thought I was going to be a lawyer, or I was going to be a teacher for a while. I loved working with kids and the community. I always loved science and math. I never saw anybody in the field. I never saw a scientist, or I never even saw an engineer or knew what engineering was when I was growing up. I had my sights set elsewhere.
Bill: That brings up a good point because it’s always good to see other people doing that work. A lot of kids grow up, they want to be firemen. They want to be policemen or whatever because they see those people out working. It’s very visible. How did you get interested in engineering and science and in math and all those things?
Victoria: When I was in about third grade, I had a wonderful group of teachers get together. They applied for a scholarship for me to the Roper school in Birmingham. It’s an independent school for the gifted. I went there on scholarship. That exposed me to several things.
I loved math and science. I was exposed to mathletes and robotics.
Victoria: I wasn’t on the team, but I was exposed to it. We had a connects team when I was in like the fourth grade, all kinds of stuff. That opened my eyes to math and science could be cool. It’s something I was always good at. It wasn’t until I was a junior in high school. I still had no idea what I wanted to do.
My math teacher at the time, she, was a graduate of Kettering University. She was like, “I think you’d be good at this.” I was like, “OK, I’ll try it.” That is how I decided to go into engineering.
Bill: Sometimes it’s people seeing something in us, not us seeing something in us. Clearly, that happened a couple of times. It’s almost destiny that you’re here. You’re a junior in high school. You get this interest. Then what happens?
Victoria: Then I get to my senior year. It’s the time where you’re supposed to be applying to college. I started applying even my junior of Summer. Summer going into my senior year is when you do all applications and everything, you’re going into it.
Then, I hit a little bit of a bump there. My family became homeless. Myself, I was 17, I believe. My sister was six. I was 17 and sister was 6 and my mom, we were evicted from our home at the time. It was supposed to be the best year ever. I’m applying to colleges. I’m on the varsity basketball team.
Everything’s going to be great. Then, not too long after my 17th birthday, because my birthday is in September, we got evicted from our house. Which was this tough spell for me as a 17?year?old kid, but also my family.
Bill: Where did you go?
Victoria: We slept in our car and our van for a couple of days. My mom didn’t want to take us to a shelter. She was afraid about protecting her daughters with strangers. For about two weeks, we slept in the car for a couple of days. Then we slept on people we knew, the floors of their houses, and things like that.
Then, my mom, we lived in Pontiac. We got evicted from Auburn Hills, but we’re from Pontiac, it’s right next door. She was still taking me to school every day in Birmingham. I am somebody that’s positive. People always look for me to smile. I hadn’t cried or anything. I don’t think I had processed anything about it.
Then my biology teacher, one day, she said, “There’s something off about you.” Then, I broke down and I told her everything. From that day forward, I lived at my teachers’ houses. A couple of teachers brought me in. The school raised money for my family since everything was in storage. I predominately lived with my teachers, my senior year of high school.
Bill: In between that time of telling someone what was going on and living what was going on, how did that feel? Now, I know you probably put on a happy face. Because you can’t see this, but Victoria is telling me the story, and she’s still smiling through all of this.
It sounds like you’re the person who puts on that happy face. What did it feel inside when you’re living in your car, and you’re trying to figure out how this is all going to work?
Victoria: It felt like I had a mountain on my back every day. It felt I was watching myself go through the motions. I wasn’t experiencing. It’s like an out?of?body experience on almost. I was trying to walk through the motions. I was severely depressed. I did not know what depression was until later in life. Now I can identify it.
I was very depressed. I was very down. I was trying to make it day by day. Each day, I struggled to even get up. I kept going and went through the motions to get by, to survive.
Bill: What was it in you that you think made you do that? A lot of people might have thought, “Well, this is it. This is how it’s going to be.” What was it in you that kept you going to school and going to class and staying on the basketball team and doing all the things you’re supposed to do as a senior in addition to all these other things that are going on?
Victoria: I wanted to have a better life for myself. I went to this private institution. Everybody was very loving. I’m in Birmingham, Michigan, but I’m from a poor family in Pontiac. There are times where I didn’t have food. There were times where I didn’t have electricity, and I’m still going to school.
I trained myself at that point to survive. I’ve always had to survive. That’s the mode that kicked in. The people I was around had no idea what my actual life was like. I had been going to school there for nine years. They had no clue of the things I had already experienced.
To me, this was another thing that I had to deal with, that I needed to get through in order to get to a better life for myself and for my family.
Bill: Being evicted from your home was another step of the process for you, is what you’re saying?
Victoria: Yes. It was awful. We’ve had tough times before, and something I had never experienced. At the end of the day, I’m like, “I’m a senior. I have to finish. I’ve worked too hard. We’ve gone through too much. I’ve got to get to the finish line, no matter what it takes.”
Bill: Do you think in some respect that you’re modeling the way for your six?year?old sister? Whether she’s saying it or not, she’s seeing how you’re reacting to that. How did that impact her?
Victoria: She remembers that time. She does not remember it as a negative time because she was only six. I promised her we were camping for the couple of days that we were in the car.
Victoria: She was much more my focus, honestly than myself. She saw me keep going. She has some struggles herself. She doesn’t believe there’s anything that she can’t overcome. She tells me that it has a lot to do with me.
She wants to be more like me because she saw me just keep going and always doing what I have to do. Never saying, “There’s not a way.” Never saying, “That’s going to stop me. I can’t go forward,” because I went through it so young. She saw me keep going.
Bill: That’s amazing. I think sometimes, we’re going through things like that, we don’t realize that other people are watching as well. You get through your senior year in high school. You’ve been staying with teachers. What happens after high school?
Victoria: I got into Kettering University, which was amazing because that’s such a great institution. We lived in apartment for a couple of weeks temporarily. I had one of my church members take me to school the first day, usually when everybody has their parents and they’re dropping them off and everything.
My graduation, I was very sad because we were still struggling. I was very happy to accomplish graduating high school. It was a sad moment because we were still struggling.
I was very happy to go to college. I didn’t have that experience of my parents dropping me off. I had one bin and maybe a suitcase to my name. I went to school. My church member took me. That was very happy but sad for me because my family was still struggling. Now, I have a place to live.
The school was trying to contact me because I didn’t have an address. I went to office. I said, “Well, I don’t have an address. What should I do?” I just remember seeing the shock on the administrator’s face. They were like, “Just put the school’s address.”
It was a happy time. I’m very happy that I got into a school and ready to take it on but very sad still because we still didn’t have a permanent place to live. We still didn’t have living arrangements.
Bill: That’s an interesting point. I’ve never thought about not having an address. That was shocking to the administrator. There are probably plenty of people who don’t have addresses. When you said those words out loud, did that impact you at all?
Victoria: It did, even most recently in life because I just got my first house. I’ve never had a house before. I’m the first person in my family to not only graduate college but to have a house. That affected me because we’re always on the move because we were never permanent.
I was that way at school. I never put pictures up in my dorm. I never got too comfortable. I was always ready to go. I could fit everything I had in a couple of bins all through college. Even when we got an apartment, even when we were more stable, I still operated like we could go anytime. [laughs]
That affected me because when people say, “I’m going home,” or, “I’m going back home,” I don’t have that in my vocabulary. I have it now. I’m getting there, but I don’t have anywhere to go back to. I’ve never lived anywhere very long. I’m currently in the city I’ve lived in the longest my whole life.
It did affect me because there was a sense of not belonging there or not having any roots anywhere. I was just operating as a survivor and nomad [laughs] for the majority of my life then.
Bill: You have a house now. I’m not sure how to ask the question. I just wonder, in the back of your mind, if there isn’t always this thing that’s like waiting for the next shoe to drop.
Victoria: That’s a good question. It’s true. [laughs] My friends get on me all the time. I still don’t have things on my walls in my house. It has been a year. I’m like, “I’m going to put them up. I’m going to put up photos.”
I think subconsciously, even though I want to, even though I know I’m much more stable, I always have this thing like, “Something can happen tomorrow [laughs] , and then it’s all over,” still in the back of my mind.
Bill: Do you think once you put those pictures up, maybe that will help?
Victoria: I think it will. I think it will. I think I have location commitment issues.
Victoria: I want to commit. I have a very loving community and friends. I think it will help me feel like, “This is my home. This is a home,” once I make it my own. My office is together. That definitely made me feel like, “OK. This is my home, my main rooms, mine.” I just got to get the rest going.
Bill: Right. [laughs] Maybe just have a party. You and your friends can all just hang up the pictures and decorate the house.
Victoria: That’s what I need to do.
Bill: Absolutely. [laughs] Congratulations on being a homeowner. I remember buying my first house. Definitely not the same background. It was terrifying, exciting. It was all these different emotions all bundled into one until I walked through that door. Congratulations on that.
I do want to go back and talk about mentorship a little bit because there’s formal, there’s informal. Just hearing you talk throughout your life, there have been these little, I like to call them God wings, where somebody walks into your life. They help you out. You move on to the next stage.
I think no matter where you’re at, no matter what your station is in life, whether you’re the CEO of a company or the manager of a department, we all got there because someone saw something in us and helped us get there. We’re fooling ourselves if we think we did it all on our own.
You and your story definitely speaks to that. Could you talk about maybe just a couple of people in your life that impacted you and helped you with your positive attitude?
Victoria: Yes. I’ll try to keep it to a couple. There are several.
Victoria: First one that comes to mind is my godmother. My godmother is an attorney. She’s in Pontiac still. She has my three god sisters and my godfather, who is an awesome barber. They have been constants in my life but her especially. She also had a tough upbringing.
For somebody to completely understand my feelings even when I don’t, helping me get language, helping me to embrace what I’ve gone through, and then also love myself. Because I didn’t love myself for a very long time. I didn’t see my worth. She has been a constant that’s always shown up for me.
In college, we had a wonderful Office of Multicultural Student Initiatives. One of the heads there was LB at the time at Kettering University. He was just always rooting for me, always helping with resources. That office helped me with funds because I had to pay for Kettering and myself. I had scholarships and grants, but that wasn’t enough [laughs] for that tuition. I always had some left over.
Always supportive, always helping me get through. Then I was in the National Society of Black Engineers. I had a mentor that I gained out of that, for Naismith. She is my sister, my mentor, my guide. She constantly shows up, showed me the ropes, show me what I needed to do and how to network because I’m an introvert at heart.
How to network? How to get myself out there and reach for the stars? Then, starting at Consumers in the E program, you have a mentor assigned to you. Then several people, I don’t want anybody to get upset, several people along the way at Consumers have mentored me and guided me in what I needed to do.
Leaders on the electric side, on the gas side, and now in customer experience. The way that I got the position that I have now is because there was a project manager. She’s not with the company anymore. Sherri Stetten, she worked over in this area and said, “Hey, there’s this role that I think you’d be really good at.”
I was like, “Energy advisor, I don’t have any experience with energy management, I don’t have any experience with this.” I’m a circuit engineer at the time. I don’t know. I applied. I went in and said, “Hey, I know nothing about this, but this is the stuff that I’m really good at. I think this could be a team.”
I’ve been here ever since. I was an analyst for the first four years?ish. Then, I’ve been the manager since 2020. Every step, every opportunity, everything I’ve gotten in life, and in this company, especially, I’ve had amazing people, mentors there to lead the way. The majority of my mentors are unofficial. They’re just people I met and connected with and stayed connected with.
Bill: What an amazing story. I have to ask this question because, like you aptly pointed out, I’ve been around the block a few times. I’ve got a few more years on you. In my experience, the engineering field is a White male?dominated field.
Not setting aside the fact that you had this struggle your whole life as a child, but here you are a Black woman going into this field. What was that like for you?
Victoria: It was difficult, but my life had been difficult. I was used to it. The thing I was met with, that was also difficult. Unfortunately, I’ve had several run?ins with individuals that told me that I didn’t belong. I didn’t belong in this field. I didn’t belong at the school. I didn’t belong in the jobs that I got.
When I got this job, I had an individual at my school say, “Hey, oh, you got it,” like, “Congrats, they need to up their diversity, obviously.” At one of my places of employment, I had several men constantly telling me how I didn’t belong and how I didn’t need to be there. How I’m taking jobs from good people.
It was tough at times dealing with, especially individuals that said that. Again, there were individuals I had more support than I had negativity. It is difficult not seeing yourself in it. I will say the National Society of Black Engineers is a big part of me making it because I still have a network of people that look like me to help me move forward.
Then, NSBE chapter at Kettering, I was the president when I was a senior. That group, especially having that support system, was pivotal. Because it’s difficult to walk through a space where you don’t see anybody that looks like you. Then have individuals telling you like, “Well, yeah. That’s because you don’t belong.” That I didn’t get anywhere on my own merit.
Which I did. I worked very hard. To tell them you did get there on your own merit. They just have quotas to me. I meet two of them, being Black and a woman.
Bill: Two questions I have for you, based on that. The first one is, this diversity hire thing is not the first time I’ve heard this. I heard this a year ago when I did a podcast interview with some of our co?workers.
I don’t want to concentrate on the negative. I don’t want to spend too much time on this. I want to know, how did that make you feel when someone you know says that to you? Because, personally for me, I’m thinking what do they think of me if that’s how they think I got this job?
Victoria: I personally like people’s negativity or opinions to be out loud. I prefer to know what you think of me upfront. It doesn’t need to be hidden. I don’t need a fake facade. Unfortunately, it’s not new to me, as a Black woman walking through this society. I have experienced negative comments since I was five, about what I can and can’t do and where I do and do not belong.
With my mentorship, my support, and especially my godmother, I walked with, I belong wherever I am. I belong in any room that I’m in. I don’t let anybody live in my mind rent?free. Yes, it’s annoying. It can be hurtful, because the people saying that words don’t hurt, they hurt. It can be hurtful.
The people that said those things to me or hear those things, I know, they’re not my friend. I know they’re not on my side. That’s cool. I have no need to entertain you or be friends or if we have to work together in the same environment, I can be cordial. I know you’re not on my side. That’s great. I rather know that and not waste the time and energy than not to know.
Bill: What a great outlook. Not that anyone wants to get revenge, but sometimes success is the best revenge. To be successful puts all that behind you. I do want to talk about something that you said early on, and you’ve repeated it. That is the importance of seeing people that look like you in the place that you want to be.
Because you said in the beginning, you never thought about doing this because you didn’t see people who looked like you in these roles. Guess what, you are now people that look like you in this role. There are some young Black women out there who will see what you’re doing and go, “Oh, wait a minute. That is something that I can do.”
What are your thoughts on that? How do you think that we can be more intentional about making sure that people know that all people are welcome, and that there are people that look like you here?
Victoria: Representation matters. I know that’s a common saying, but it does. The TV shows I watch, the people I see at the store, the people that I didn’t see come to my schools, and things like that. I have been on several panels, for colleges. I’ve been on panels for high school. I’ve had speaking engagements.
I love talking to the youth and being able to be the person that I didn’t see. To give them the experience that I didn’t have because that’s where you get the first idea. I went to Kettering, a White man is telling me he’s the fourth generation engineer in his family. It’s like, I don’t have that. How would I know? You don’t know what you don’t know.
You need to see yourself in these roles. That’s why when “Hidden Figures” came out, look at this pivotal team and amazingness of Katherine Johnson, and these Black women that were pivotal to launching that ship, that shuttle. That story is buried, so much of Black history is buried. Then so much representation isn’t there.
It’s twofold for me. It’s, “Hey, let’s talk about the stories that are not talked about, that are not at the forefront.” There’s more to Black history than slavery. There’s so much greatness. As that we don’t get to see, that doesn’t get talked about. When I go to history, all I hear about is, “Oh, I was a slave. That’s where I’m represented.”
Representation matters in our past, present, and future. I want to hear about how great the Black people are now and then. I didn’t learn about Louis H. Latimer until it came to Consumers. I was like, “A Black man is totally into, ‘Why we have the light bulb, and why we have streetlights, and systems,’ and things like that.”
Because I never saw me, because I never saw me represented because I never saw me as an opportunity to be, especially when I was young. It was either like a nurse or a teacher. Those were my options. Even me saying I want to be a lawyer, they were like, “Oh, well, let’s not set our sights too high.”
No, these are the things that I want to be. It’s important that kids…That’s when you’re most impressionable. That’s when you’re like, “These are my options, so I can be that first somebody, I get to be that representation.” That is very fulfilling for me. That’s part of my purpose. I feel it’s something I really enjoy.
Bill: You talk about history. When this airs, it will be Black History Month. You make a great point because I remember when I was in grade school all the way through high school, to be honest with you, Black History Month would roll around. We’d roll out the Black history books. We’d talk about George Washington Carver and peanuts and the cotton gin.
Then we would go on with our lives as if Black History fits in a 28?day month. We’re only going to talk about these one or two people. Every time I have an interview, every time I learn something new, I learn that this is a whole rich history. Somebody once said that whoever wins gets to write the history books.
There are history books, and the history is probably correct. It’s just not complete. It’s very important on all of us to not just look at months, Black History Month, or Pride Month, or whatever month we’re talking about, that these are real people.
There’s a real history there. Let’s try and make that something we talk about all year long. It’s important to have a focus for everyone, for whatever purpose.
Turn the key off at that month, and then go on with however we did it before. That has to stretch into everything we do. Coming to Consumers Energy and learning what you learned is a great example that there are history lessons, no matter where we’re at.
Victoria: 100 percent. Black history is not just a month. It’s just not 128 days, the shortest month, too at that. History is history. When we’re talking about medical advancement and discoveries, we are there. When we’re talking about inventions, we are there.
When we’re talking about life?changing, altering, things that we use every day now, we are there. I learned yesterday that a Black man is responsible for the store countertops in businesses and when you see them in convenience stores and things like that. Those long ones that you see in the airport, too.
A Black man is responsible for those. He couldn’t get a patent. He had to have his partner get the patent for him. He couldn’t sustain his businesses because they kept burning down his businesses when he went. I just learned that yesterday, something that’s so pivotal that I see every day all the time, was a Black man’s invention.
Bill: I learned that today talking with you. It’s military history. We could probably do a whole podcast on Black Wall Street, that I didn’t know about until last year. That’s a sad end, but an amazing history that happened there. Lots of things for people to go out, and we are not going to talk about Black Wall Street because I want people to go look it up.
Go find out about it for yourself, and educate yourself on that. Victoria, we are getting close to the end of the podcast. It’s been a great conversation. I’ve just appreciated getting to know you, getting to know your story and your passion. This will help others as well who may be in similar situations.
Before we go, what would you like our audience to take away from our conversation today?
Victoria: That, you have to be your biggest fan. It is what you think about you that is the most important. If you are unhappy, or you don’t like something, you need to address that and within yourself. Figure out, “Hey, what are the things that I like that bring me joy? What are the things that I’m interested in?”
You have to be your biggest fan because there are always going to be naysayers. You’re going to fall. Everybody falls. You have to get back up based on your own volition and knowing that you have a goal. This is what you want to accomplish and that you know what you’re going to do.
You have to be your biggest fan because they’re always going to people that aren’t, but there are going to be more people that are.
Bill: All right. Thank you for sharing that with us. Thank you for sharing your whole story. I look forward to us talking again soon and the great things you’re going to do here at Consumers Energy. Thanks again for coming on.
Victoria: Thank you for having me.
Bill: Thank you to the audience for listening in today. The Me You Us podcast is proudly sponsored by Consumers Energy, leaving Michigan better than we found it. Remember, you can find the Me You Us podcast on all major podcasting platforms. Be sure to go out, find us, and subscribe.
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Transcription by CastingWords