Meet Heather Shawa
Heather Shawa, is the Chief Financial Officer for the Lansing Board of Water and Light. Heather is a proven business management executive with expertise in Accounting, Operations, Information Technology, and Project Management. She has demonstrated the capacity to analyze business operations and identify opportunities for growth and diversification, as well as improvement in efficiency and performance. She has also worked independently as an entrepreneur and business owner.
What does leadership mean to you?
First, I believe leadership is a privilege, and it’s essential to understand the commitment you’re signing up for. A few critical components of leadership involve:
- Removing obstacles on your team or initiatives’ behalf.
- Helping individuals reach their full potential.
- Assisting organizations to achieve their goals.
It is also more than a title; I believe that upon accepting a management position, influence and leadership must become an automatic addition to your repertoire. Natural leadership qualities should be utilized to engage, becoming an active contributor in the solution amongst all levels. It is also essential to ask yourself, ‘Why is leadership important to me?’ before taking that step in your professional career. Leadership is much more than a title, and it is necessary to be able to put the people you have the privilege of leading first.
Who has influenced your idea of leadership?
First and foremost, my Mom. She instilled early on in my life that hard work, commitment, sacrifice and balance are the keys to success. I have also been fortunate to have been surrounded by entrepreneurial leaders during my career, especially early on. I’ve had the opportunity to work for a private/family-owned business, Fortune 500 and currently a public power/municipality. I seek to learn, and all of my prior bosses/colleagues have influenced my leadership idea. I’ve watched and learned, all having molded me in some way with both leadership traits I’ve embraced and others I decided to try to avoid.
Why do we need more women in leadership roles? What unique qualities do women bring to the workplace?
We need more qualified leaders overall. I’ve been fortunate to work for and with some exceptional leaders, both male and female. We need to support each other. I do genuinely feel we women leaders are stronger together. However, it is essential to focus more on qualified leaders and help each other reach their full potential.
How are you leading in your career or community?
Being a part of public service, specifically a public utility, there are so many ways to participate and get involved in our community we serve. Public Power has core values that directly speak to customer service and community. I have participated in the Women’s Build with Habitat for Humanity and ATHENA WIN, which I am proud to be the executive sponsor for our corporate membership at BWL.
I serve on The Peckham Inc. and Big Brothers Big Sisters Board of Directors, both as finance chair. I also make time for mentoring opportunities for current and future leaders. This is something that I’m very passionate about and activity that keeps me on my toes! We have some very bright and capable leaders at BWL and in our community. I am fortunate to be a part of it.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I am proud to be a part of the Lansing community, born and raised. I value family time and looking forward to coming out of the current pandemic stronger, better, connected, and hoping that we are able to keep compassion for each other at the forefront. We truly are all in this together.