Get to know Rossalyn Quaye

By Benjamin Campbell

Earlier this month was the mid-year financial close: It’s a busy time for the Finance team!

In honor of their work we thought it would be nice to post a few “get to know you” profiles about people in the department. This summer, our intern Ben Campbell had a chance to sit down with Rossalyn Quaye, Executive Advisor for Peggy Smyth, to learn more about her role working on the Finance team.

B: To begin, I was wondering if you could give me a brief overview of your responsibilities as Executive Advisor to Peggy Smyth. Could you take me through a typical work day in your role?

R: Broadly, my responsibility is to make sure that the strategic priorities Peggy has set for Finance and Shared Services are on track moving forward. I monitor performance and report to her on that performance. I feed into the monthly cadence meetings and attend a portion of cadence to capture best practices (for continuous improvement), key messages, and actions for Finance and Shared Services. I plan and facilitate all of Peggy’s meetings with her leadership team, nail down actions and accountability, and drive performance to bring them to completion. Additionally, I am responsible for mobilizing the teams that prepare Peggy’s papers for board and executive committee meetings. There really is no typical day. My days usually involve a combination of attending meetings, reading, writing, and connecting with people.

B: Some people see the EA position as a form of high-level job shadowing. How accurate would you say that is? How much of your position is focused on learning vs the task-oriented responsibilities that you just described?

R: It’s not exactly job shadowing.  I have distinct responsibilities and, most of the time, am not physically with Peggy. I learn through a combination of active listening or participating in meetings, and rossalyn2working on special projects.  For example, in meetings, I get to see first-hand how the US executive team and Finance leadership drives business performance and establishes the strategic direction of the company and of their respective departments.

B: Can you tell me about a project that you particularly enjoyed working on?

R: I worked in a Quality Assurance role (Finance QA) on the Finance and Shared Services Discovery Team for the New York and Massachusetts rate cases—MECO/Nantucket and KEDNY/KEDLI. Whenever questions came to Finance, one person on the team would draft a response and then someone more senior in their department would review it. Once they were satisfied that the response was complete, they would kick it over to Finance QA to check that the response was complete and consistent with other discovery responses we had submitted. It was a good experience because I learned a lot about our Finance and Shared Services roles and accountabilities, and some of the unique features of MECO and KEDNY/KEDLI, and it was similar to what I used to do in my previous job at Con Edison—I worked on rate cases there. It was nice being able to take something that I was familiar with and use it in my new role. I also liked having an opportunity to directly work with people that I normally would not have.

B: Is there anything that you think other employees might find interesting about your role as EA?

R: One thing that people often don’t realize is that my role is temporary. The executive advisor position, by design, lasts around 18 to 24 months. People thought I would be in my position as long as Peggy is here, but no, this is a developmental role that is temporary. It’s a good learning experience, and then you move on to contribute to the business in another way.

R: Another thing is: Some people thought that you had to be a lawyer to be an executive advisor—because I am a lawyer, and because it has “advisor” in the title—but, no. Anybody with the right skills can be an executive advisor. This includes: Being able to see the big picture, detail-oriented, action-driven, self-directed, outgoing, organized, and definitely able to anticipate the information your executive will need day to day. There are several other EAs across the business and they, who have been in their roles for longer than I have been in mine, taught me what they do. I started using some of what they’d taught me, and now I will share best practices with other new EAs as they come in.

B: Is your position with Peggy significantly different than, say, Dean Seavers’s EA would be?

R: It’s similar, but not the same. It’s up to the executive to figure out how they want the relationship with their EA to work and what their focus areas will be. It also depends on the executive’s area of responsibility.  Because Dean is responsible for the entire US business, I think his EA’s role has more of a global component—more communication with groups in the UK, etc. So it’s different.

B: You mentioned earlier that “there is no typical day.” Is that one of the things you like about it?

R: Yes. There’s a lot of variety and I like that. Some things are recurring, but they’re never exactly the same.

B: Is there anything else you would like to add about the position?

R: Vivienne Bracken, now the global heard of procurement, was the very first executive advisor to Steve Holliday, our former global CEO. Vivienne described the EA role as a “practical MBA,” and I think that’s a succinct description.

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Rossalyn/Ben – Nicely done! And, this is a great way for others in the organization to better understand the EA role.


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