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Staying Power

Charles W. Shivery '67, '76When Charles W. Shivery landed his first job with Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE) right out of college, he was waiting to see what he really wanted to do. After more than 36 years with the utility industry, it seems he may have found the answer.

Since 2004, Shivery has served as the chairman, president, and CEO of Northeast Utilities (NU), New England's largest utility system. More than 2 million customers across Connecticut, western Massachusetts, and New Hampshire get their natural gas and electricity from the publicly-traded Fortune 500 energy company, which employs some 5,900 people.

In 2002, when Shivery joined NU as the president of its competitive businesses, the company owned and operated several unregulated businesses, including merchant generation, wholesale, and retail marketing. In 2004, Shivery became chairman, president and CEO, and in 2005 made the decision to shed the competitive businesses and focus instead on developing NU's own regulated infrastructure for energy transmission, distribution, and generation. The divestiture, which was complete by 2006, turned out to be a prescient move. "It was the right decision for NU at the time and has clearly kept us in good stead in the current economic environment," Shivery says.

He adds that NU is committed to being environmentally responsible. "We provide safe, reliable energy for our customers, and we believe it is our corporate responsibility to consider all possible environmental impacts of our business decisions and our operations," he says.

Before transplanting to New England with his wife, Chris, the Eastern Shore native spent nearly three decades in Baltimore with Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE), which he joined in 1972, and then with its parent company, Constellation Energy Group. 

"I had worked at BGE as a student engineer for a couple of summers and, when I finished my first degree at Hopkins, they offered me a job," he recalls. "I wasn't sure if I wanted to work for a utility company at that time, but it seemed like an interesting job. I had the opportunity to see many aspects of thecompany-from facilities engineering to internal auditing to positions in the treasury organization-which was a wonderful way to learn about the company as a whole."

Shivery ascended the corporate ladder within BGE and later Constellation, and over the years held a variety of senior management positions: vice president, CFO, and secretary of BGE; director of Orion Power Holdings; president and director of Constellation Energy Solutions; chairman and CEO of Constellation Energy Source; and chairman, president, and CEO of Constellation Power Source. At the time of his retirement from Constellation Energy Group in 2002, he was co-president.

Shivery, who earned an MBA from the University of Baltimore in 1975, notes that the single biggest event that occurred during his tenure at BGE was when the utility industry deregulated in the late 1990s. The move gave him a unique opportunity to start Constellation Power Source, the company's competitive marketing and trading function. 

Looking back, Shivery says that the breadth and depth of his early experiences at BGE served him well in the long run. "Any young individual, no matter their discipline, who wants to progress further in a company needs broad experience of many aspects of that organization, which helps not only their career but their value to the company," he says. 

He adds, "That's one thing we try to do at NU; we try to ensure that our employees have the ability to reach their highest potential but also see different aspects of the operations of the company. We feel that is an important path to becoming part of the senior management team."

Although clearly a savvy businessman, Shivery believes it is his engineering background that played an important role in his success. "The rigor of an engineering course of study develops one's ability to look at problems objectively and analytically," he says. "Having an engineering background to me has always been extremely helpful. Hopkins did a lot to instill the disciplined approach to solving problems."

-Mary Talalay




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