Business Profile | Beth Reese

October 2012 View more

NMAG1012_BusinessBeth Reese is making history at Naperville-based Nicor Gas.  Beth has been appointed as the first female president of the largest natural gas utility in Illinois.  Naperville Magazine recently spoke with Beth about her accomplishments and how she is adjusting to her new home in Naperville.


You were recently appointed as the first female president of Nicor Gas. This must be a tremendous sense of accomplishment for you?

I’m honored to have the opportunity to lead the largest natural gas distribution company in Illinois that serves more than two million home and business owners. In the 12 years I’ve been with AGL Resources, the parent company of Nicor Gas, I’ve been challenged to learn about and lead various parts of the business. I hope my appointment to this leadership role helps to inspire and encourage more women to think about a career in the energy sector, in particular with Nicor Gas.

You have worked hard to achieve your level of success. What advice do you have for other women trying to work their way up the corporate ladder?

The best advice I ever received was to find ways to make my boss’ job easier, and that is applicable to anyone in the workplace. Specifically for women working to advance in an organization. In addition to delivering excellent work, I think it’s important to remember that if you want to be seen as a leader, you must first act like a leader. That isn’t a place of comfort for many people, but I’ve learned that growth doesn’t really begin until you step out of your comfort zone.

As the newly appointed President of Nicor Gas, what are some of the challenges facing your company and industry?

As I see it, we have two important challenges at Nicor Gas, one is more short-term and the other is longer-term. The first is growth. Simply stated, we grow when the economy is growing. We like to see new industries come into the state and use natural gas in their processes, expansion in the real estate markets, new local businesses, new homes being built and new people moving to Illinois and into our service territory. The natural gas industry differs from the electric industry in that in today’s homes and businesses, electricity is standard, but that is not necessarily the case with natural gas. One of my goals is to make more home and business owners aware of the exceptional energy value that is natural gas. It is a domestically-produced, affordable and an environmentally responsible energy choice that can meet our country’s energy needs for generations to come.

The longer-term challenge relates to workforce development. We are fortunate at Nicor Gas to have a terrific workforce, which has been with us for many years. Our challenge is to make sure that we are bringing in the next generation that will stay onboard with our company and continue to move our business forward. Sometimes the natural gas industry isn’t considered a place where you can have an exciting career, but I can tell you first-hand that the energy sector is exciting, especially the natural gas business. In addition, we offer stability and numerous career opportunities in all aspects of the business.

The energy industry continues to evolve to meet the growing needs of a changing economy. What are some of your goals for Nicor Gas?

Our number one priority is, and will always be, the safety of our employees and our customers. We want our employees to go home every night to their families in the same condition as when they arrived at work in the morning. In the same respect, we want our customers to have confidence in our product and the service we provide.

A primary goal, though, is to look at new and innovative opportunities to grow the natural gas market in Illinois. As I said earlier, natural gas is an exceptional energy choice and there is significant opportunity for growth, such as expansion of the compressed natural gas market and power generation opportunities.

We also will focus on continuing to grow top talent within the company and attract new talent. I would like to see us do a better job at reaching out to high school and college graduates, and encourage them to consider a career with Nicor Gas as they plan for their future.

And lastly, in addition to providing exceptional service and an exceptional product, Nicor Gas has a great reputation of being a good corporate citizen. I want to continue that tradition and ensure our philanthropic investments maximize opportunities to enhance the quality of life for the communities we serve.

As a new Naperville resident, what are some of your favorite things to do in the Naperville area?

Naperville is a wonderful city that my family and I have enjoyed getting to know over the past year. We really enjoy visiting the downtown area, walking along the Riverwalk and visiting many of the fabulous restaurants and shops. Two of my favorite places to visit are Anderson’s bookstore and Casey’s grocery store.

You keep a busy schedule between your responsibilities as president and your personal life, how do you maintain a work-life balance?

I believe that work-life balance is different for everyone, and as an individual you need to define what works best for you. I am fortunate in that I love what I do and I have a very supportive husband and daughter. When I am not at work, I am dedicated to being with my family and focusing on what they enjoy doing. One of my goals in achieving work-life balance is making sure I’m able to spend quality time with my family away from work, and that I don’t end the year with too many unused vacation days.