An image of a hard hat and yellow vest might come to mind when you think of your typical DTE Energy employee. What you might not picture is the dedicated team of regional and relationship managers who play a pivotal role behind the scenes.
Founded in 1819, Oakland County is Michigan’s second most populated county, home to nearly 1.3 million Michiganders in 62 cities, villages and townships across 907 square miles. From Pontiac to Royal Oak and everywhere in between, local residents count on DTE to provide safe, reliable, and efficient energy services.
DTE’s regional and relationship managers serve as the bridge between the community and the company, distributing vital information to the public and municipal leaders, gathering insights, and channeling them back to company leadership for additional support if needed.
“We strive to create a thriving partnership between the community and DTE,” said Jacob Walker, DTE relationship manager and longtime employee of 14 years.
The managers are dedicated to proactively making the community aware of available resources – such as safety information, local reliability work and energy efficiency supplies. Too often, residents’ only interaction with DTE is when a storm or power outage occurs. It’s the managers’ mission to communicate information, including good news, all year long.
A day in the life of the managers in this region is a strategic blend of community engagements, direct outreach, and problem-solving. Many share that their true passion lies in directly connecting with customers, understanding their concerns and incorporating their ideas into the company’s processes.
“We don’t work a typical 9 to 5 job,” said Jamal Robertson, associate regional manager. “We’re there for our customers 24/7.” Transcending the traditional work hours and volunteering on weekends, Robertson embodies an unwavering commitment to community involvement.
Part of a relationship manager’s role is to see how best to partner with leaders in the community and the people they serve. Ann-Marie Morris, a relationship manager, leverages her 11-year tenure at DTE in nurturing relationships with diverse community stakeholders, spreading DTE’s mission of reliable, affordable and clean energy.
“I have always had a passion for helping others,” said Morris. “My role at DTE puts me in the position to offer community support and be hands on with customers who need assistance.”
Many of the individuals serving as regional and relationship managers came from other positions at DTE. Jennifer Whitteaker and Whitley Young began their careers at DTE in customer service, gaining insight working directly with customers.
“There is no position that allows you to learn all the facets of a company like customer service,” said Whitteaker. Her previous experience within the company has provided her with the knowledge to successfully serve Oakland County as a regional manager, partnering with municipal leaders and government agencies to provide information on DTE’s operations and its plans for investing in the grid of the future and renewables.
Regional and relationship managers connect with community groups and government leaders to communicate DTE’s commitment to improving grid reliability and the company’s plan to invest $9 billion over the next five years to reduce the frequency and duration of power outages. DTE’s four-point plan is focused on improving existing infrastructure, rebuilding significant portions of the grid, installing new, smart grid technology and continuing trimming trees. More information about our plans to improve reliability can be found here: EmpoweringMichigan.com.
In addition, managers provide information on how customers can reduce their energy use, purchase renewable energy through the MIGreenPower program, and how DTE is committed to reducing carbon via new renewable generation sources and new carbon capture technology. Additional information about DTE’s vision for becoming carbon neutral can be found here: DTECleanEnergy.com.
Whitley Young learned what customers want and need. Now in her relationship manager role, Whitley stressed the value of in-person interactions. “Whether it’s providing resources, distributing information, or solving problems, people appreciate when we show up.”
Beyond serving the community, the managers go above and beyond connecting internally as well. Jamal Robertson has taken a colleague who is disabled under his wing, helping him finish his schooling and earn his degree. “I get to attend some cool events for my job, but knowing I am able to help others and make a difference is what really stands out,” said Robertson.
Outside of work, many of the managers are involved in the community through various organizations they are passionate about. For example, Simon Mourani, relationship manager, is the president of the Lebanese Collegiate Network.
Heavily involved in the Lebanese Student Association in college, Simon was able to continue his passion post-grad. “We foster, develop, and promote Lebanese clubs across colleges nationwide,” said Mourani. “It’s a full circle moment. I’m now able to help organizations like the one I was a part of.”
From relationship managers to regional leaders, these individuals represent the backbone of DTE’s community engagement efforts in Oakland County. Their commitment, dedication and proactive involvement embody the essence of service and care for the community’s energy needs.
For more information on DTE’s efforts in your community, visit EmpoweringMichigan.com. If you’re interested in speaking with a DTE representative or coordinating a speaking opportunity, contact DTEoutreach@dteenergy.com.