Tricia Breeger: Redefining the Energy Landscape

October 30, 2023 00:25:48
Tricia Breeger: Redefining the Energy Landscape
AYNA INSIGHTS
Tricia Breeger: Redefining the Energy Landscape

Oct 30 2023 | 00:25:48

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Show Notes

Tricia Breeger, President and CEO of Mitsubishi Electric Power Products (MEPPI), brings her distinctive insights to the future of infrastructure, underscoring the pivotal role of cutting-edge technologies in advancing cleaner, more sustainable power generation. In this comprehensive discussion, Tricia delves into the complexities and opportunities within the energy transition landscape, shedding light on the rising demand for innovative technologies and sustainable storage solutions. She further explores MEPPI's integration of generative AI and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles, a transformative strategy aimed at pushing the boundaries of technological innovation in the electric power industry.

With nearly two decades of experience, Tricia has progressed from a sales engineer to her current role, emphasizing customer-centricity, transparency, and continuous learning throughout her leadership journey. Her central mission is to position MEPPI as a frontrunner in shaping the infrastructure of tomorrow while guiding the company through the multifaceted challenges of the energy transition.

 

Discussion Points

 

Ayna Insights is brought to you by Ayna.AI—a managed service provider that combines domain expertise and transformation capabilities to create alpha—performance superior to market indices—in the industrial and industrial technology sector. The host of this episode, Gaurav Batra, is the President & CEO of Ayna.AI and co-author of the WSJ bestseller – The Titanium Economy.

 

For More Information

Tricia Breeger LinkedIn

MEPPI

Ayna.AI Website

Gaurav Batra on LinkedIn

Book: The Titanium Economy

 

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:03] Speaker A: Welcome to Ina Insights, where prominent leaders and influencers shaping the industrial and industrial technology sector discuss topics that are critical for executives, boards and investors. Ina Insights is brought to you by Ina AI, a firm focused on working with industrial companies to make them unrivaled segment of one leaders. To learn more about Ina AI, please visit our website at WW ina AI. [00:00:40] Speaker B: Good morning, folks. Welcome to an exciting episode of our Future of Infrastructure podcast series hosted by Ini Insights. Today I'm really excited to welcome a very special guest, Tricia Breeger. He's the president and CEO of Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, headquartered in Pennsylvania. Mitsubishi Electric Power Products is a US affiliate of Mitsubishi Electric Corporation of Japan, and they serve the North American power system, rail, transportation and large visual display markets with their electrical and electronic products, systems and services. MEPPI has 38 locations across the US. With approximately 4000 employees. Tricia had joined the company in 2000 as a sales engineer in the gas circuit breaker division, and over the course of a remarkable 23 year career, has climbed to the ladder of being the president CEO of the company to which she was recently appointed in April 2023. So Tricia, welcome to our podcast. We are super excited to have you and are looking forward to talking about your journey as well as what you're up to at MEPPI. [00:01:41] Speaker C: Great, thank you so much. Garav very glad to be here and excited about the topic today myself. [00:01:48] Speaker B: Super. So Trisha, I think maybe we get going by talking about MEPPI first. Could you give us a sense of what the company's overall vision and strategy is? What are you guys targeting over the next four to five years? In terms of priorities? [00:02:03] Speaker C: Absolutely. We actually like to call ourselves MEPI. M-E-P-P-I as you had mentioned, stands for Mitsubishi Electric Power Products Incorporated. And as you may know, we're a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mitsubishi Electric Corporation in Japan. And you've mentioned some of the diverse markets that we serve. I also want to mention that MEPI is a very customer focused organization and we consider ourselves a technology company. We engineer, we manufacture, and we deliver highly reliable, innovative solutions for our customers. And from a culture perspective, we like to say we combine the best of Japanese and American cultures. So, as CEO and president first, I'm very humbled to have this role and lead our organization forward. I oversee business strategy, growth, business development, and of course, our overall operations. We are decentralized. We have several locations across the US. And a location in Europe. And my top priority is to position MEPI as a leader in engineering the infrastructure of the future. That's really our purpose. And it starts with our customers. Again, by providing those highly valued engineered solutions with that long standing quality of the Mitsubishi Electric brand. So you asked about the next 510 or 20 years. I'll tell you most all of our customers have set very ambitious goals during that time period, specifically in the areas of digitization and decarbonization. So we at MEPI, we've sharpened our focus on long term collaboration with our customers to make sure that we understand exactly what their needs are and when, so we can advance the current technologies that we make and we can be prepared for the technology developments of the future. We are almost 40 years old here at MEPI. We've been partnering with electric power utilities throughout that entire duration. We support the transportation passenger rail industry, as you've mentioned, the data center market, which is experiencing incredible growth. And you also mentioned those visual display screens where we support stadiums and arenas for the NFL, NBA, or even Division One college sports. So a lot to be excited about at MEPI, our top priority is to serve our customers excellently. And in the next 510, 20 years, they're going to put us to the challenge because our markets are really growing. [00:04:42] Speaker B: I'm glad you mentioned that, Tricia, because being in the sector, there is a sense of optimism and resurgent interest, which at least my career is shorter, but I haven't really seen that in the past. So would love to get your thoughts on how you think about the current period. Is it different from what you've seen in the past? Will it be a new renaissance for infrastructure, at least in North America? [00:05:04] Speaker C: How do you view mean? Those are all good questions. Is it a new renaissance? Is this period different than the know energy transitions? If I can talk about energy for a little bit, energy transitions aren't necessarily new, but what is new and what we're seeing today is the scale and the timeline. Unprecedented growth in this really short time frame I think is really going to be a challenge for all of us. So when we talk about that, and again, I had mentioned we consider ourselves a technology company. So how do we bring these solutions to the table for our customers? We want to tackle it shoulder to shoulder with them, understand what their needs are, whether it's in the utility market, the data center market, or the rail market, make sure that we're developing the right technologies at the right time. We're really going to tackle this, I would say in a phased approach where any market or customer that's going through a significant transition, like the energy transition, they're going to do it in phases. What technologies or improvements in technologies do they need today that will get us through the next maybe three to five years? What are those bridging technologies that are going to get us to our future? That's 2035 plus. And on the energy side, I think 2035 plus, you're going to see technologies that change the game. Change the game in terms of clean and green power generation, change the game with long term storage, or even change the game with improvements in existing technologies, whether it's power electronics or nuclear technologies, for example. So it is a renaissance of source of sorts. It's a fantastic transition that we have ahead of us and our goal is to stay connected with that customer, help them today, help them bridge to the future and then be there for the long run. We're a long term player in this market and we're excited to support it as it makes this significant transition. [00:07:11] Speaker B: Really exciting to hear a leader from the space talk about the, I think the opportunity which kind of lays in front of us, challenging but unprecedented, but nonetheless opportunity over the next few years. So, Trisha, maybe on the other side of the pendulum, from a macroeconomic perspective, we are seeing interest rates and inflation probably very different from what at least we have been used over the last decade or two decades. What is your outlook on those metrics and then how are you positioning MEPI to kind of at least navigate through. [00:07:39] Speaker C: Those know, even during these economic times and the macroeconomic impact that we've all experienced over the last few years, our customers have still set aggressive goals. And so these aggressive goals are going to drive unprecedented growth, expansion and innovation in the industries that we serve. So what does that mean? For MEPI, it means that we need to bring those new technologies to the forefront faster and we actually need to deliver higher volumes of product on more aggressive timelines. So that means we have to play offense if we're going to support our customers in this kind of market, whether it's electric power, data centers or transportation. So offense translates to product developments. It translates to capital investments that will strengthen us and really strengthen the overall supply chain that supports these markets. So you'll hear me say this maybe a few times today. I believe those of us that are supporting these markets that I've referenced, we need to perform excellently, all of us, to meet the aggressive goals and timelines that are in front of us. As I'd mentioned MEPI, we consider ourselves to be a technology leader. So these are very exciting times for us. So we want to make the appropriate investments, whether it's product investments or capital investments, to deliver those next innovative technologies and deliver our product at higher volumes because that's what's being asked of us. That's what's needed to support the transition that our markets are undergoing. [00:09:17] Speaker B: That's terrific to hear. Trisha so talking a little bit about, I think you mentioned you're part of a fully owned subsidiary of a Japanese company. I think in typical times we've heard about how difficult it is to be a successful business while working in a more cross border context. We already have been blessed by COVID over the last few years, which I couldn't have imagined made life easier. So would love to just understand how have you thought about both the positives and some of the challenges which come through a cross border kind of a business model as well as how COVID might have changed your thinking or things which might have been effects which are lingering still for the business. [00:10:00] Speaker C: So I think your question is referencing to success as a global organization and in particular global organization success through COVID. So it's been quite a few years. Of course what stands out is supply chain and we do deploy a global supply chain. So supply chain challenges and increases in cost and lead times whether it's from foreign or domestic suppliers. It's been a global problem that's impacted all businesses and of course it's impacted Mepe. And these circumstances have led mepe to aggressively pursue more supply chain diversification and that includes understanding the regionality of your supply chain and making the right decisions to support your business through any kind of interruption or hurdle. That means advanced supply chain logistics, improvements in inventory management. I will tell you that we've gotten a lot smarter throughout this period. We've looked at our supply chains with a more critical eye and we've been addressing vulnerabilities, some of which were honestly less risky in the past. But we've gained a lot of knowledge on how to secure our supply chain and we've made and we continue to make appropriate investments in that area. No one I would claim is perfect. We are continuing to learn how to do that better in these economic times. I have to talk a little bit about low unemployment and steady job growth that has increased the competition for talent within the markets that we serve. There's a constant need for skilled workers and experienced professionals. So human resources is really at the top of my list when I'm thinking about what we need to secure as an organization. I will tell you if you can give me a moment to say that MEPI is a great place to work. I talk a bit about our culture early on in combining the best of our Japan and American cultures. Our desire is to be a technology leader and to serve our markets and our customers excellently and we have to be committed to our employees to do that. Not only to attract the talent that we need in this market, which is quite difficult, but work on retaining and supporting our employees by first giving them a strong sense of purpose. I think that's important to the workforce today and we have that opportunity right in front of us when we serve these dynamic markets such as the electric power industry, data centers and transportation. We invest heavily in training and developing our employees leadership programs. We do deploy a flexible hybrid work model and we take our pay very seriously and make sure that we put competitive pay and benefits in front of our employees. So I'm very proud of our people and our organization and will tell you that talent and resources are so important to the success of what we're trying to do for our customers and within our markets that it is always on the front of my mind. [00:13:19] Speaker B: It's awesome that you said that. Trisha, you can anticipated a question I would have asked you around talent and resourcing given how critical, as you said rightly, that the competition is much higher and with the generations going through their own dynamic changes, it's just a very different field these days. So great to hear about what MEPI and how you are positioning that in terms of attracting and retaining the talent. Trisha, maybe another offshoot of that you talked about MEPI as a technology mean we are living, I think again every year seems to be like an accelerated disruption. Now the latest buzword is generative AI and Chat GPT pervading every part of our life. How is in your experience and outlook AI and these technologies, are they going to change business for MEPI specifically and just the industrial landscape as a whole? [00:14:05] Speaker C: So that's a big question, right? Another thing that a lot of business leaders are thinking about today. I do believe we're of course at the very early stages of understanding generative AI's impact and influence to any of our businesses. But I do believe that generative AI is going to launch us into this transformative era in technology and it will significantly impact our business and we can guide it and steer it in a way to impact our business for the better. When you look back in history, if you draw lessons from prior technological cycles, for example, I would expect generative AI will drive automation. I would expect it will increase efficiency gains, it will bring more innovation across our industry and potentially reshape business models and even reshape supply chains that we talked about. I do believe that companies that successfully integrate generative AI into their operations stand to gain a competitive advantage. So I don't want to sit on the sideline here at MEPI again, we consider ourselves a technology company. So we need to get started. We have initiated trials of AI across our business to test its efficacy in multiple business cases and we're going to continue to do that. These controlled trials in different business segments, applying a few guide rails as we use this new technology to learn and that's been our approach. Jump in, talk about the potential benefits of this tool and those benefits are evolving month over month. These tools are becoming more effective, there's more options on how to use them, they're getting smarter, so to speak. I do believe the best way to learn is to jump in and apply the tools to your business with some guidelines, some review of risk as well as reward and then continue to be a user. And that's our intention here at MEPI. We're going to continue to use this tool intelligently and in a way that will bring benefit to our business. [00:16:23] Speaker B: And that's great to hear Trisha. Because I think we agree with you. I think at least not sitting as sidelines, we can be sure that's not the right answer. And I think figuring out the answer for yourself and trying things out is probably the right way to go. So great to see Me making strides there. So, Trisha, I think we talked about generative AI. Another element which obviously stopped in mind for business leaders these days is ESG would love to get your perspective on how that has shaped decision making and strategy at MEPI and then specifically all the opportunities and challenges you kind of have to deal with with respect to ESG as you look at your day to day businesses. [00:16:57] Speaker C: Great, thank you so much. ESG another big topic, so that's a big question and I will say, and we've talked about this, a know MEPI is a facilities owner. So we own factories and several facilities. We're decentralized, so we have locations across North America. And we want to be a responsible facility owner when it comes to our environmental responsibility, which we take very seriously. We also want to be a good corporate citizen within the communities where we work and where we serve. So we have what I would call internal company responsibilities that we take seriously. But we also have this unique opportunity to make a broader impact by supporting our customers, particularly our utility customers, in their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support them in clean energy generation, distribution and transmission. And we do that with some pretty, I think are very cool and novel products. We have a vacuum circuit breaker that replaces the use of a global warming gas, SF Six. Particularly we have power electronics on the distribution and transmission grid that really aid and assist the use and the interconnection of renewable generation sources and distributed energy resources. So we're excited to support these products, we're excited to bring them to our utility customers and support the overall transition of the power grid to clean and green. But on the social sustainability side, we focus on software that helps interconnect these renewable energy resources, bring them to the distribution grid, and again, within the communities that we serve, step into that social responsibility of bringing our products to utility customers that have a direct impact on consumers. And from a governance perspective, again, I would believe that strong governance practices are essential for any business. We believe here in transparency, accountability and ethical business content. MEPI has always been committed to good governance principles and how we work and how we conduct our business. [00:19:13] Speaker B: Great to hear PraSha. I think MEPI is one of the unique companies which is not only just incorporating ESG in their own activities, in many ways facilitating the transition for the broader ecosystem as well. So, thanks for your thoughts there. So, Trisha, maybe moving a little bit to your personal journey away from the business discussions. I think your trajectory is remarkable right I mean, you joined me as a sales engineer and now I'm talking to you as the president, CEO of the company. Would love to just understand or if it's okay to share some experiences, kind of shape your leadership style, particularly as you look at the generation of leaders who are potentially listening to you right now and are coming up. What would be the lessons you'd like to share with them in terms of leadership? [00:19:53] Speaker C: I'm happy to share what's worked for me, and it's not a one size fits all. But I will say that some of my early leadership positions that really shaped how I see a business and an opportunity and see our customers would be the service management roles that I had held early on in my career. I was given the opportunity to build a team from the ground up and build a team that was focused on the customer and taking excellent care of that customer, doing some of the things that I talked about, being transparent, being accountable and being responsible. And that has stayed with me. Customer care has stayed with me throughout my entire career. We really look to our customers here at MetBy as being the North Star to our business, and it's our customers that have really guided us towards new product developments and in some cases even new markets. Customer care influences my decision making, and I had learned over my career that you want to deliver all the news quickly, honestly and transparently. You want to do what you say you're going to do. That's been fundamental throughout my career. I will say this comes from my service days. I do believe every problem can also be an opportunity. It depends on how you respond to it. And over the years, I've really learned to embrace change because change is an opportunity for growth. I've also had the benefit of having great mentors here at MEPI. We have strong leadership, we have an excellent culture, and I've always embraced learning, continual learning. We use a phrase here, be a student of your business and embrace continual learning. And I will tell you, over the last few years, when COVID put challenges to us that we had never seen before, we needed to be a student again and we needed to study how were we going to succeed in this environment. And I'm a big believer in that, and I do that to this day and will continue to be a student as long as I run business. [00:22:07] Speaker B: Thank you, Trisha. I'm definitely taking away transparency and learning to be a student with me as well. I think those are excellent idioms to keep in with us. So, Trisha, maybe the final question for you. I think, as you know, we focus on the infrastructure market in terms of our business as well. And one theme which has been consistent, maybe not in the most exciting way, is that we feel that infrastructure sector by itself doesn't get its fair view in terms of the value it generates for the society and even as businesses. So would love to just end this on a note of you lead obviously a major player in the sector. How do you think about value creation for MEPI and then what kind of lessons could your peers take from you in terms of how you drive that? [00:22:48] Speaker C: At know I also am a big fan of infrastructure, as you would imagine. And our purpose is to engineer the infrastructure of tomorrow and to do it within these dynamic markets that are making such a significant change in technology that is going to change the infrastructure that we all experience as consumers in the power industry, even the data center industry. And the change and the evolution that's going through is going to help us live lives that are more data intensive and with no delays. Low Latency allows us to use new technologies and tools in transportation, whether we're electrifying transportation or whether we're moving into autonomous transportation. So it's such an exciting time to be in the infrastructure business. And one of the reasons I wanted to join you today is I like to talk about it. I like to highlight that technology companies are going to step in and make significant changes in our markets, in our industries that we haven't seen in years. And it's exciting to be a part of. And so I hope other engineers and professionals that have an interest in making an impact in big infrastructure areas like power, like transportation, like data, look to technology companies as an exciting opportunity to make a contribution. So I've always enjoyed power systems, I've always enjoyed the infrastructure segment and I've got to honestly tell you, it's never been a more exciting time. So I'm always happy to talk about it and excited about how we MEPI can contribute to our customers and to our markets. But just in general, to observe and be a general contributor to these transitions is just something I get excited about, as you can probably tell. [00:24:50] Speaker B: Definitely, I can definitely feel the excitement as well in your voice, Trisha. So really appreciate you taking the time, Trisha, both in terms of sharing your lessons as a leader it may be, but also in your personal capacity. I think the infrastructure sector is lucky to have leaders like you and I think hopefully the enthusiasm, the excitement you have will pervade others as well. So appreciate you taking the time and once again, thanks a lot for your thoughts. [00:25:11] Speaker C: Thank you. Thank you. Garava, it was a pleasure. [00:25:14] Speaker B: Thank you. [00:25:20] Speaker A: Thanks for listening to ina insights. Please visit for more podcasts, publications and events on developments shaping the industrial and industrial technology sector.

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