American Water President on Challenges Facing Women Leaders

Steve Adubato goes One-on-One with Deb Degillio, President of New Jersey American Water and Senior Vice President of Eastern Division of American Water, to discuss challenges facing women leaders, advice she has for women looking to step into leadership roles and the state of water in New Jersey and the region.

12/6/18 #2180






"We are pleased to be joined by Deb Degillio, who is President, New Jersey American Water, Senior Vice President, Eastern Division of American Water. Good to see you Deb. Good to see you. Let's fully disclose. We were on a bill... it's like... sounds like we were in Vegas. We were at the Business and Industry Association, we were talking about women empowerment - women's empowerment, right? About leadership. Three powerful women, and me. And I listened to you, and I thought, "She's good." Thank you. She's a great leader. First, before we talk about your leadership approach, talk about your organization. So I work for American Water. We're the largest publicly-traded water and wastewater company in the United States, and we have operations everywhere from California, to Hawaii, to New York, to New Jersey. So I'm curious about this. Your approach to leadership, and then the... people who know this know, as part of what we do, I ask about leadership of all great leaders, and this is part of our Women in Leadership series, your approach to leadership? Were you always as confident as what I saw in front of me at the Business and Industry Association, when you were speaking? I'm probably still not that confident Steve. I think I'm my own worst critic, you know. I mean, I think I'm smart, I think I work hard, but I always think I can do better. And I love what you said at the conference about being a lifelong learner, which I think is absolutely critical to being a good leader. Say someone says, "Hey, this is it. I'm good enough..." I'm done. Yeah. [laughter] Then they should wrap it up. Yes! [laughter] And go home. That is not a good leader? It is not. But I'm curious about this. You've worked in an organization that has a hierarchy? Mm hmm. Okay? And you've had to move through. How have you managed that process of not just...? Well, I'm curious about that. Because you've been with the organization for a while, and you moved to a very high level? Mm hmm. I have. So I think, first and foremost, being a female, you have... there is a higher standard. You'd love to say that that doesn't occur, but there is a higher standard. You really believe that? I do. A higher standard for different things. Not necessarily work product, but you have... you always have the question... I was talking to a colleague when we were driving up today, and I said, "Look, I know that I'm not naive enough to think that people..."