Rivard Joins SCE to Lead Transmission and Distribution Organization
Heather Rivard is a Michigan native, born in Flint and a state resident for most of her life. Growing up, she loved being a Girl Scout, ran track and cross country, enjoyed spending time at the lake in the summer and her love for learning made her an excellent student.
“I always excelled at math and science and had a dream of working for NASA when I was young,” Rivard said.
When it was time to think about college, her mom suggested she consider engineering as a major. “My counselor said aerospace engineering could be a great opportunity since it was an industry with few females.”
Up for a challenge, Rivard took their advice and attended the University of Michigan where she majored in aerospace engineering. She landed a job at NASA and worked in the aerospace industry for a few years, both in Houston at Johnson Space Center and at the Pentagon for a defense contractor.
“In aerospace, you can work on a single project for your entire career and never see it come to fruition,” said Rivard. “I didn’t love the idea of that.”
So, she moved back to Michigan to pursue an MBA and took a job at DTE Energy where she entered a rotational engineering program. Early on, she had the opportunity to work directly with field crews. It was the dedication and passion of the people — from engineers to lineworkers — who keep the lights on and power flowing day in and day out that made her fall in love with the industry.
Rivard held a variety of roles of increasing responsibility throughout her 28-year career at DTE and worked her way to senior vice president of Electric Distribution. Safety and caring for people, employees and customers, became her true passion.
“I lost my father when I was 14 years old, and I still remember how painful that was,” she said. “When I see my team and our customers in the community, I see their families — the sons, daughters, grandparents, parents — and I don’t want any of them to feel the pain of losing a family member. Worker and public safety are always top of mind for me.”
On Sept. 27, Rivard is leaving Michigan and joining Southern California Edison as senior vice president of Transmission & Distribution, overseeing the company’s largest operating unit, where about 6,700 team members plan, design, engineer and keep the power flowing across the company’s 50,000-square-mile service area.
In her role, Rivard’s experience and thoughtful leadership will be key to helping strengthen SCE’s operations, with a core focus on safety, so the company can consistently deliver greater value to its customers. This includes reducing the threat of catastrophic wildfires by overseeing the implementation of SCE’s Wildfire Mitigation Plan and expedited grid hardening.
“We’re excited to have Heather join us at SCE as we work to strengthen and modernize our grid and achieve a clean energy future,” said SCE Executive Vice President of Operations Steve Powell. “Her impressive accomplishments and leadership in creating a culture of engagement, continuous improvement and accountability will be an excellent addition to the team as we accelerate Operational Excellence.”
Rivard looks forward to helping reduce the effects of climate change and making a difference in her new role.
“I’ve gained valuable experience in my years in the industry,” said Rivard. “I’m excited to be joining the SCE team and look forward to working together to make a difference for our customers and the communities we serve.”
PHOTO CREDIT: COURTESY OF HEATHER RIVARD