AAP Member Spotlight: April Zebisch

02-03-2016 · African-American Partnership

april_zApril Zebisch,
Georgia Power

AAP: Tell us about your role at Georgia Power and how you impact the company’s strategic goals.  What are your suggestions for individuals who are interested in a career in the energy industry? 
I am currently a Senior Fuel Analyst supporting Georgia Power, where my responsibilities include coal and limestone planning and procurement, managing co-owner relationships and supporting the Georgia Power plants with environmental, regulatory and inventory management projects. I also provide operational support for Georgia generating facilities which is in line with the company’s strategic goal of reliably and economically fueling the “World’s Best” energy company.

My top suggestions for those interested in a career in the energy industry are to be self-aware and be a “student of the business”.  The ability to learn and understand your strengths and developmental needs and how to communicate them are critical skills to market yourself.  Learning how utility companies operate, finance business, and make money are extremely important as well as being aware of pending government policies or regulations can help in articulating why you want a position in the energy industry when interviewing. This can be achieved by networking and building relationships with people in the utility industry. Additionally, seeking the knowledge to understand the business as a whole helps connect the dots for how each role specifically impacts business goals and increases your ability to be an ambassador for the company’s brand.

AAP: As leader of VOICE – Valuing Openness, Inclusion, Community and Education, Georgia Power’s Employee Resource Group (ERG) for people of color, tell us how you plan to create and sustain an inclusive work environment.  What are ways African-Americans at various companies can bring this issue to the forefront?
April: VOICE’s mission is to create and sustain an inclusive work environment and we strive for that by having a multi-layered approach. We work with different organizations within the company to promote “student of the business” learning and continuing education to develop and sharpen leadership skills among African American employees.  As president, I serve as the “voice” for African American employees and VOICE specifically provides support in the workplace by sharing and recognizing members’ promotions, opportunities and life events while leveraging the knowledge, experience and networks of more tenured members.  We provide a mentoring program that facilitates candid feedback and advice for our members. VOICE also identifies programs for African American communities to enhance the development and education of Georgia Power customers to provide future growth.
Employee resource groups are a safe place for employees to share information, discuss issues and address tough situations.  African Americans at various companies can bring issues to the forefront through ERG’s in the form of focus groups, general body meetings and one-on-one meetings with the ERG’s leadership team.  Through this process you typically find others that are passionate about creating and sustaining an inclusive work environment to support fostering an inclusive culture. VOICE’s leadership team is very open to hearing employee feedback, addressing our members concerns and aligning these concerns with business goals and drivers.  This information is summarized and discussed at a high level with our advisory board, Executive Champion and Georgia Power’s Executive Management Council who fully support VOICE and other employee resource groups.

AAP: Why is philanthropy important? How do you give back to the community?
April: Philanthropy is important to me because it strengthens our communities as a whole and reminds me that I am a very blessed and fortunate individual.  My parents were very active in our community and we volunteered often growing up.  I didn’t understand the importance of philanthropy as a child, but I understand it now and often bring my children to volunteer with me. I offer financial support to many national and local organizations to fund programs and supplies, and I also volunteer often locally to provide manpower to plan and execute community events.

AAP: Who is your favorite African-American trailblazer that serves as a source of inspiration to you?
April: My current favorite trailblazer that serves as a source of inspiration is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her TED Talk on “The Danger of a Single Story” really opened my eyes to listening for understanding and learning from many different sources. People are incredibly dynamic and our experiences shape who we are. The “single story” creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. I feel like this is beneficial in both my professional and personal life because if we only hear the “single story,” then we risk critical misunderstanding. Chimamanda’ s words are powerful and honest and her passion for gender equality is inspiring.

AAP: We understand you are a foodie?  What is your favorite greater Atlanta restaurant?
April: That’s tough! I think my current favorite restaurant is Watershed on Peachtree. I will admit that when head chef, Joe Truex, left early last year, I was concerned. I loved the Louisiana influences in his dishes, and he is extremely creative (his sweet potato crème brûlée is one of the best desserts I have ever had).  However, the new head chef, Zeb Stevenson, has not missed a beat. He changes the menu frequently and I have a different experience each time I go– which is exciting!