Blog Hero Donna Keck Duke Energy Women in Asset Management - Copperleaf Decision Analytics

Written by: Judi Hess

Asset Management Is For Women Too (featuring Donna Keck)

One thing I have been noticing more and more is the number of women entering the field of Asset Investment Planning & Management (AIPM). In fact, many of Copperleaf’s clients are women who are taking a leading role in their organizations in planning and managing their asset investments more strategically, to minimize risk and create the highest value for their organizations.

Certainly the prevalence of women is not evident by attending an asset management conference…yet. But it occurred to me that this is a great role for women in a field where you might not expect to find many women! And I believe this is the beginning of an exciting trend and would like to highlight some of these women—and the interesting work they’re doing—to establish some role models and shine a light on this as a possible career path for young women.

In this article, we are featuring Donna Keck, Lead Engineer – Business Planning / LRP Support on the Nuclear Corporate Business Team at Duke Energy.

How did you get involved in the field of asset management?

I started at Duke in a Maintenance Engineering role in 1982 and have had the good fortune to work on many different types of equipment over the course of my career. I experienced the frustrations of having sound engineering solutions deferred or rejected for what, at the time, were unclear financial reasons. Eventually, I moved into a more programmatic Equipment Reliability role supporting INPO’s AP-913, Equipment Reliability (ER) Process.

In this role, I observed the same challenges and disconnects between engineering and business decisions, and the lack of Long Range Planning (LRP) across the nuclear industry. As a result, I moved out of engineering and joined our Business Planning organization to help establish an LRP process that would bridge the gap between ER and business decisions. I viewed this as an opportunity to pursue a different approach: an Asset Investment Management-based approach.

What attracted you to this field?
I pursued Engineering because I like problem solving. I have migrated into a pseudo Asset Management role where we work to provide better insights to help our leadership team make difficult, but informed decisions related to aging assets. Given the age of our generating assets, and the increasing economic pressure on our industry, Asset Management is a problem we desperately need to address. Any asset-intensive industry will eventually face the same challenges that we, in the utility industry, are now experiencing.

What excites you most about this field?
The opportunity to make a real difference in the operational and financial success of my company.

What are the most rewarding aspects of the work you do?
It often feels like one step forward, two steps back, so it depends which day you ask…

One rewarding outcome is that an Asset Investment Management approach has helped shine a light on siloed processes and disconnected systems. As a result, we are working to better integrate these systems and processes which will eliminate duplication, and in turn, improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Where are you (and your team) making the biggest impact?
Copperleaf’s C55 solution has provided us with a consolidated platform that reflects ”one source of the truth” for our fleet’s operational plan. Having a consistent data source has facilitated continuous process improvements, including:

  • fleet/jurisdictional optimization analysis
  • enhanced fleet outage planning
  • fleet routine cost analysis

Slowly but surely, we are bridging the information gap by ensuring full disclosure of risk as an input to decision making, and making leadership decisions more transparent across the organization.

What do you think are the biggest challenges?
Ultimately, our biggest challenge is making the best investment decisions to ensure the long-term operational and financial viability of our generating fleet. However, the biggest challenges we’ve encountered in implementing an Asset Investment Management approach are:

  • establishing a critical mass of asset management ”believers” to champion/sustain the approach, and educating our leadership team as to why a structured, time-based risk scoring methodology is better than their gut when it comes to making decisions
  • establishing consistent planning, scoring, estimating and charging processes across the fleet in order to provide credible reports/metrics to help drive the desired behaviors
  • compiling large amounts of data and effectively transforming this data into actionable information to drive informed decision making

Would you recommend asset management to other women as a career?
Absolutely! Asset Management offers a wide range of challenges spanning a diverse skill set, so there is something for everyone. I really liked Marie-Claude’s response to this question, and I think she covered all the bases!

To learn more about other women making an impact in this emerging field, feel free to check out these articles featuring: