Wayne County is a cornerstone of Michigan’s populace, embracing a thriving region of more than 1.8 million residents. Every day, a vast majority of these residents depend on DTE Energy for their essential gas and electricity needs. Playing a pivotal role behind the scenes is DTE’s dedicated team of regional and relationship managers.
The regional and relationship managers bridge the gap between the company and the community. Their role involves not only sharing resources – such as safety information, local reliability work and energy efficiency supplies – with the public but also collecting community insights and requirements to convey back to leadership.“We’re in service to the community, ensuring our customers can receive the reliable power they demand and deserve,” said Mark Jones, a dedicated relationship manager for over a decade.
Jones witnessed the department’s remarkable growth from its inception. Actively engaged in customer support activities orchestrated by DTE, Jones collaborates with various partner organizations to offer diverse resources to the community.
“People often arrive distressed, facing potential shut-offs, poverty and homelessness,” said Jones. “Surprised by the array of services available in one location, they leave expressing immense gratitude to DTE for providing resources and aiding with bill payments.”
Regional and relationship managers juggle many responsibilities, engaging directly and indirectly with the community. Their dynamic role can shift in an instant from event participation to distributing resources during an emergency.
Julie Jozwiak, a regional manager at DTE, transitioned from a career in the automotive industry in pursuit of new learning opportunities and community involvement. With over 10 years at DTE and residing in Detroit for 25 years, her passion for problem-solving is deeply rooted in her commitment to the city she proudly calls home.
Outside of work, the managers are continuing incredible ventures in Wayne County. Jozwiak leverages her expertise acquired at DTE to actively contribute to her community. For the last 3.5 years, she’s been a consistent presenter, sharing insights on various energy-related topics. “I saw a gap of folks not understanding the basics of how utilities work, and I jumped at the opportunity,” said Jozwiak.
The DTE managers celebrate their diversity in culture and experience with one another. Barbara Rykwalder, government affairs manager, is excited about embracing diverse cultures, both within her community and among her colleagues.
“Once, while assisting a customer, we struggled to communicate due to a language barrier. I sought help from my coworkers, and their willingness to support was inspiring,” said Rykwalder. “A colleague fluent in the language helped convey my message to the customer and he was able to connect with DTE services.” That customer’s small business is still open today thanks to Rykwalder’s support and relentless commitment.
The regional and relationship managers work around the clock to provide DTE customers with the best service possible. “If it is 1 a.m. on a Saturday morning and I get a phone call, I pick it up because I know someone is depending on me, as do all of the regional managers” said Rykwalder.
Despite where their passion formed, all the DTE regional and relationship managers have a deep-rooted commitment for serving their community. Kirstie Staelens, regional manager, discovered her passion early on for helping others through community service.
While her days are devoted to supporting DTE customers, her commitment to making a difference extends far beyond the workplace. “Through my role at DTE, I work with customers by supporting their various needs and requests, and in my spare time, I volunteer in the community to guide and mentor the next generation of female leaders,” said Staelens.
From the intricate workings of Wayne County’s energy infrastructure to the vital role played by DTE’s regional and relationship managers, these professionals are the linchpin between the community’s needs and the company’s services. Mark Jones, Julie Jozwiak, Barbara Rykwalder and Kirstie Staelens all share a passion for problem-solving and genuine care for the Wayne County community.
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.