Women Who Set the Standard: Celebrating the Women of NRE

At New River Electrical, our values of professionalism, integrity, respect, and passion for our work have been at the heart of our business since its inception in 1953. Each and every day, we aim to uphold these values, going above and beyond for the sake of the greater good. Because of this, NRE has a proven track record of success. We would not be where we stand today without the incredible team of men and women helping to set the standard.

Today, we’d like to take the time to introduce you to four women of NRE with a variety of backgrounds and job duties, each playing an invaluable role in the company. These employees support their fellow teammates, bring unique perspectives and skill sets, and help set NRE apart in our industry.

Stephanie Hall – Foreman

Sometimes, taking a leap of faith is the best approach when you’re trying to foster a better tomorrow. In Foreman Stephanie Hall’s case, she was longing for more out of her career and took a chance that changed her life forever. After working in pharmacies for years, Stephanie realized she wanted to go in a new direction, and specifically wanted to work with her hands. She made a call to an NRE superintendent and was presented with an offer she couldn’t refuse.

With a positive outlook, Stephanie excelled and rose through the ranks as a natural leader. “I started out as a Groundman,” Stephanie says, “and then after a couple of months, my coworkers encouraged me to pursue an apprenticeship.” Through the apprenticeship program, she gained comprehensive training and a mentor who inspired her to become a Foreman. Today, she is New River’s first female Foreman in our Substation Construction and Maintenance division.

“Safety is our top priority. No one person can do anything by themselves out here, it takes a team, and you bond over that,” Stephanie says. As a leader, she ensures her crew has everything they need to tackle each project effectively and safely, including her full support. “If they’re digging a ditch, I’m digging right there with them. I won’t ever ask my crew to do anything I’m not willing to do myself,” she mentions. In return, NRE has her back as she ventures through her journey as a Foreman. “Everyone respects and trusts one another no matter their level of expertise,” says Stephanie. This is imperative to our culture here at NRE “because everyone needs to go home whole at the end of the day,” Stephanie mentions.

Stephanie believes that being a part of the New River family has given her more than she could ever ask for. “Succeeding in a male-dominated industry gives me more confidence in myself that I never really had. I can go home and give that to my son and show him that he can do anything he wants to,” she mentions. Stephanie has made quite an impression on all of us as well. We’re lucky to have her on our team, leading her crews with integrity and passion every day.

Jennifer Langley – Director of Risk Management

As a born leader and problem-solver, Jennifer Langley excels in her role as NRE’s Director of Risk Management. She’s built a remarkable career working for several local law firms, handling personal injury, medical malpractice, workers’ compensation, social security, and disability, and now mitigating risks by formulating solutions with NRE. Jennifer’s story began in 2008 while working as an Executive Administrator to the Senior Vice President of Risk Management and Safety. “I wanted the job because I thought it would be an interesting opportunity to expand my horizons in risk management and safety,” Jennifer says. She didn’t think her choice would lead her down a healthy career path focused solely on ensuring the safety of the NRE family.

At that time, Jennifer handled all the claims and performed various safety functions. She worked directly with the safety specialists that perform job audits, accident investigations and training as well as her other administrative duties. From 2015 on, she was promoted three additional times, working her way up to her current role as Director of Risk Management. Throughout her time with NRE, Jennifer is grateful for the leadership responsibilities she’s gained. “It’s evolved from me working for the senior vice president to me being a supervisor over the Safety Administrators that do the drug testing, driver files, training, and more,” she mentions. When she was promoted to Risk Manager and Director, she “became a party of one,” doing most of the work on her own. “But I work with all the other departments of the company; I have the opportunity to have my hand in a little bit of everything,” she says.

While Jennifer is technically a team of one, she likes to say that her team is the entire company, and she supports her team by offering support and effective communication. “I listen to the needs of others – I try to be the calm in the storm when things don’t go exactly right.” When people need to discuss something they’re not exactly sure how to tackle, she likes to be there to help answer their questions. Jennifer continues, “The team at NRE all have the same goal, we all want to be high achievers in anything we do and to be personally committed to each other on a personal and professional level when someone needs help.” That support is what guides us in setting the standard.

Jennifer believes New River empowers women pursuing careers in this industry by giving them opportunities in the field and the corporate office, where they can have leadership roles. “I believe that New River is impressed with what they see we’re capable of doing,” Jennifer says. According to Jennifer, the best way to dive into a male-dominated industry is to go for it and find a mentor to have in your corner. Because of the opportunities NRE has given her, Jennifer hones her leadership skills to work with other women in the company and teach them what she knows. “I try to be that person they can come to and ask questions and not have any repercussions for that,” she says. Providing that space to others and helping them gives her the most satisfaction. Jennifer leads with intention, professionalism, and respect and has had a phenomenal impact on everyone at NRE.

Julie Waters – Project Controls Manager

Project Controls Manager Julie Waters began her journey with NRE only three years ago, but it feels like she’s been with us forever. Julie oversees a team of professionals that support the operational teams, anywhere from project dispatching to data analysis, to our regional collection of revenues. In layman’s terms, Julie and her team have a touch point with almost every project at New River.

Julie has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Having her own wedding photography business for over ten years taught Julie the operations side of running a business at a young age. “As I progressed through my career, I developed more of a passion for the business side of things,” she mentions. At the same time, Julie had been immersed in the construction industry thanks to her husband, who operated a construction business for over 25 years. Throughout her professional career, she had always been around the blue-collar culture and really enjoyed it. Eventually, she began working in general contracting, gaining experience by wearing many hats and conquering challenging endeavors. She loved it but felt she needed to find a strong company that aligned with her professional goals. “I was working with mom-and-pop businesses when I started out. It just wasn’t challenging enough, so I was looking to lean harder toward my affinity for people,” Julie says.

As Julie joined New River during the height of the pandemic, she was determined to take the lead and bring innovations to our processes. “New River was experiencing growth, and our clients were experiencing communication barriers, so it was a messy time for everyone,” she says. When she joined the team, Julie felt an overwhelming sense of freedom to bring her skills to the table. The conversations and connections she made with her mentors were impactful as they empowered her to get the job done thoroughly and efficiently. “The emphasis on empowerment and ownership is what sets NRE apart from other companies. To live and breathe a culture directly impacted by our work is something that you reap the benefits of by succeeding.”

In Julie’s words, working at New River Electrical has truly been life-changing. “It’s the people and the effort they put into their work. It inspires me as a leader and a person,” she mentions. The most valuable thing Julie has learned while working at NRE is how to fail. “You’re going to fail. But fail and learn from it.” She appreciates the true value of team communication and sticking things out as a team. Facing challenges in this field has been a gift to Julie. “Being a female in a male-dominated workspace can be intimidating, but don’t be afraid. Take the opportunities you’re given and learn as much as you can. Be confident in the skills that you have and bring to the team, you were hired for a reason,” she says.

Julie’s favorite thing about her job is that she has a purpose here at NRE. Managing a team that helps with all of the critical pieces of a project is something she’s proud of. New River greatly benefits from Julie’s support, passion, and professionalism in her role, and we’re glad she is part of our NRE family.

Cortni Smith – Estimator

Since the very beginning of her career, Project Estimator Cortni Smith has felt that she was meant to work with New River Electrical. Cortni’s journey started in the summer of 2007 as an intern. Cortni enjoyed her experience so much that she was determined to come back. “As soon as I moved back from college, I was emailing them saying, ‘Hey guys, I’m back! I’d really love any opportunity that would come up, and I don’t care what it is. New River’s the place I want to be.'”

Cortni transitioned to a receptionist role, which allowed her to meet more people and be the first face people saw as they walked through the doors of New River. From there, she moved to the fleet department, accounting, operations, and finally, to her current estimator position. Being involved in so many different departments at NRE has given her an edge and broadened her understanding of what our company does. “I’ve been able to see everything from start to finish. I got to see projects from all sides, and it’s helped me as an estimator to be able to see it in a different light and to understand it a little better,” says Cortni.

As Cortni’s role has changed over time, she’s noted that sometimes she’s been the only woman present during on-site visits, which can be nerve-wracking. “I learned that if you ask questions and be honest and upfront about something you’re not familiar with, the people around you are ready and willing to bring you up to speed.” In her current role especially, everyone relies on each other, which sets NRE apart from other companies. “We have to work as a team, everyone brings something unique to the table and gives their all to complete projects — like when we had the largest bid in company history. There were last-minute changes that needed to be made, and everybody was firing on all cylinders,” Cortni recalls. According to Cortni, this was a project that brought everybody closer. “Those guys are my brothers. We play golf together on the weekends. We know everything about each other — sometimes a little too much,” she says.

Building a good rapport with her teammates has been essential to Cortni’s success with our company, but having self-confidence has been equally important. Cortni says that any woman who wishes to pursue a career in this male-dominated industry should be honest and open with those around her. Cortni continues, “Know you have value in that role; you’re in that role for a reason. So if you can just be confident in yourself and share that confidence, it’ll only help you grow.” Cortni shares that all her mentors at NRE have been very supportive in her many roles. In Cortni’s words, NRE has provided her with the proper training and continuing education to feel comfortable with herself and to feel empowered. Plus, working for an employee-owned company has taught her to take ownership of her work and to be proud of her role.

Cortni is exceptionally proud to work at NRE because of our team’s culture. Additionally, she has helped create a positive, safe space for her fellow team members. To Cortni, her team is her family, and she is forever grateful for the support they’ve shown her. We are so happy to have Cortni as a team member, as she fully embodies our values and makes a difference.

Confident, Inquisitive, and Not Afraid to Fail

NRE is proud to have a talented and diverse team of women who help drive our success and foster our culture. Without them, we would not be where we are today, so we’d like to thank Julie, Stephanie, Cortni, and Jenn again. New River is grateful to call them a part of the NRE family!