James W. Morozzi

Position: President and chief executive of GridWise Alliance, a District-based membership organization that represents electric utilities, technology and telecommunications companies, systems integrators, equipment providers and academia.

Career highlights: President and chief executive, D&E Communications; president of Exelon Communications; analyst, corporate strategy and development, PECO Engery; engineer, electric operations, PECO Energy.

Age: 48

Education: BS, electrical engineering, and MBA, Drexel University.

Personal: Commutes daily to the Washington region from Philadelphia, Pa. He and his wife Dorothy have two teenage sons.

I was always intrigued by how things worked. I was the kind of kid who took things apart and tried to put them together.

I remember when I was 12 years old and my mother’s washing machine broke. I took apart the timer and controller and actually got it fixed.

I eventually discovered that engineering was my calling.

I spent part of my career in the electric utility business and the other part in the telecommunications business.

Right out of college I worked as a project engineer for PECO Energy, an electric utility in Philadelphia, designing and operating distribution circuits and substations. I loved being out in the field and working with the line crews and underground mechanics.

Engineers don’t usually worry about making the company money because they are focused on how to put up wires and maintain safety. I’m not sure how but I started seeing that there was more than just a technical aspect to this job.

I began to focus not only on getting the job done safely and reliably but also productively and at the cheapest cost.

People started noticing I had a bent toward looking at the cost efficiency of projects, so I eventually moved into the corporate strategy and development group.

I helped the company take its cost structure down quite a bit and get more competitive going forward. I also developed a business model for getting PECO Energy into the telecommunications business. We thought about our assets — poles, trucks, underground conduit systems and great people who know how to run electric lines — and thought they could do telecom at the same time.

This was at the same time the Federal Communications Commission was auctioning off licenses for personal communications service. We co-owned and co-ran the wireless business in the Philadelphia area with AT&T.

I ran that business for PECO and started a competitive local exchange carrier business building fiber-optic network to compete with the incumbent telephone company in an area.

We had infrastructure and people who were highly skilled, but we did not have the marketing prowess or telecommunications experience, which is why we relied on partners to do both as joint ventures. It was a great learning experience.

That’s how I transitioned to the telecom space and became the chief executive of D&E Communications, a small telephone company in central Pennsylvania.

My proudest work there was developing a team of people. The company had been there for about a hundred years and did everything for all people because it thought that’s what needed to happen. I really challenged my team of vice presidents and senior vice presidents to focus on the important stuff. As a result, we improved the profitability and expanded the reach of our broadband Internet connections while adding a lot of data projects and service.

GridWise is the perfect blend between electric and telecommunications. It gets me back to my roots but it also makes me think about how we make the country’s electric infrastructure smarter, responsive and intelligent by actually putting information in customers’ homes and businesses — how we put controls and sensitive electronics all in the network to better sense power and be able to manage the network better to optimize it.

Interview with Vanessa Small

James W. Morozzi

Position: President and chief executive of GridWise Alliance, a District-based membership organization that represents electric utilities, technology and telecommunications companies, systems integrators, equipment providers and academia.

Career highlights: President and chief executive, D&E Communications; president of Exelon Communications; president, corporate strategy and development, PECO Energy; engineer, electric operations, PECO Energy.

Age: 48

Education: BS, electrical engineering, and MBA, Drexel University.

Personal: Lives in the Washington region with wife Dorothy and two teenage sons.