Interview Series – Lisa Cagnolatti


Lisa D. Cagnolatti

Vice President, Customer Service Operations Division, Southern California Edison

Interview with EUCI – conducted August 31, 2016



-What was your first job?
I was a sales clerk at a clothing store in a local mall. I started at 16 years old.  It was a great way to make my own spending money!

-What does the first hour of your day look like?
Just the basics – getting dressed, having a healthy breakfast.

-Who are your role models? Mentors?
I have had many mentors and role models over the course of my career.  I admire women who are driven, passionate, fun-loving and professional.  I think Susan Taylor (Former Editor of Essence Magazine and Founder of the National CARES Mentoring Network, Michelle Obama, and Hilary Clinton are exceptional role models for young women today!

-Looking back, what one piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Always be deliberate and strategic in everything you do – deliberate meaning “on purpose and with forethought” and strategic meaning “with the desired outcomes and unintended consequences in mind”.

-What is one book or reference you recommend to be a better leader?
Every woman should read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In.  It completely changed my focus on “Encouraging Women to Lead” and mentoring up and coming leaders.

-Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Hopefully retired :). Or continuing to contribute to my company at the senior executive level.

-Where do you see women in the industry in 5 years?
I hope to see women in increasing numbers take on positions of leadership in government, private industry, universities, and non-profit organizations.

-When I hire, I want?
Intelligence! Both kinds – emotional intelligence and standard intelligence.

-Do you recall any advice that shaped your career?
Yes.  My first boss at Procter and Gamble advised me to always be mindful of how my behavior impacts others.  This is the first tenet of Emotional Intelligence.  A later mentor told me to never assimilate to a mediocre culture and don’t let the grass grow under your feet.  Always be on the hunt for new challenges and growth opportunities!

-What was an “Aha moment?”
When I realized that I could weather any storm.

-What are your goals for 2017?
Professional: I have just taken on a new, larger role at work so I will be focused on building this new organization into an even greater place to work – improving processes and enhancing efficiency.  Personal: both of my sons are now college graduates so my husband and I will be enjoying our two passions – enjoying our classic cars and travelling the world (my bucket list is to set foot on all seven continents – I have three more to go)!

-What does success mean to you?
Being grateful and joyful every day.

-Tell us about your biggest flop?
This is going to sound trite, but every failure is just a stepping stone towards your ultimate success.  I can recall not getting a job I really wanted then a great thing happened for me at work.  Everything happens for a reason.

-Do you have any hidden talents?
I am actually super creative.  I always thought I was left-brained because I have a degree in Chemical Engineering and I love math and science. But as I got older and started working on innovative approaches to problem-solving at work, I found I like being creative and staying outside the box.  And I am energized by being around people who see no insurmountable barriers or boundaries.

-What was your childhood dream?
To be a doctor but I loved chemistry so much I changed my major in college to chemical engineering and I am soooo glad I did!

-What does your power suit look like?
I am more of a tomboy type. I am not a glamour girl at all.  So I don’t wear 3-inch heels and fancy suits.  I prefer being casual and comfortable with very little make-up.  When I am comfortable in my own skin I feel powerful.

-What is the one character trait you can point to that made your success possible?

-What is your take on Work- Life Balance?
Self-care should be your highest priority.  The safety instructions on an airplane remind you to always put on your oxygen mask first and then assist others.  If you are not at your best, you cannot take care of the people you love and the responsibilities in your life.