In honor of Veterans Day, we connected with Jack Bridges, vice president for Electric Operations and executive sponsor of PSEG VETS, and Tim Gonzales, training and development specialist and VETS president. PSEG VETS is an Employee Business Resource Group (EBRG) with a mission is to raise awareness, offer support and serve as a resource to all veterans at PSEG and within the communities we serve.
Tell us about your experience working at PSEG.
Bridges: I’m a second-generation PSEG employee. My dad was on leave from the U.S. Navy, applied for a job at the company, got hired and it became a family thing. I got hired first as a summer intern and eventually for a full-time position as an engineer.
I’ve been here for 35 years, working in electric transmission and distribution. I’m responsible for the 24/7 operation of the electric transmission and distribution system at PSEG. Our teams operate and maintain the electric system, including underground, all of the poles, wires and substations. We keep the power running; I love the work and serving our customers.
Gonzales: I started with PSEG in 1992. At the time, I was fresh out of the U.S. Marine Corps and supporting my young family. While in the service, I worked as an electric repair technician with generators, and I understood electric theory and troubleshooting. It took me about a year to get hired at PSEG. I started as an apprentice and then worked as a pipefitter and service tech. After that, I saw the opportunity to grow in the trade and have been with the company for 19 years.
How would you describe the workplace culture at PSEG?
Bridges: We treat each other like family. There’s alot of pride in the work everyone does to serve our customers.
Gonzales: The culture is very demanding because of the nature of the work, but it’s also very supportive and inclusive. Inclusive because everyone is a part of getting the job done and watching out for each other’s safety.
That extends beyond our workforce to the people we serve. Recently, there was a storm that was devastating for many people. We had technicians and line workers, in the middle of the storm, reaching out to help our customers. That’s what PSEG is all about.
Has the culture changed since your initial days at PSEG? If so, how?
Bridges: The culture has changed, but the teamwork and family aspects haven’t. As time has passed, I’ve seen people treat each other with more trust and respect than they did years ago. In addition, the company has equipped us with the tools and training we need to be more inclusive leaders and teammates.
Gonzales: Yes, it has changed. At PSEG, we have recognized that everyone is different and that makes us stronger. We value the unique perspectives that each person brings to the table.
What is the role of the VETS EBRG?
Bridges: Veterans have sacrificed and given so much. I’m proud PSEG has a solid commitment to reaching out to veterans for career opportunities, and also to support nonprofits that benefit veterans. As the VETS EBRG executive sponsor, my job is to remove barriers for our team within the company. This helps get things done and raise greater awareness with other leaders, ensuring they understand the benefits veterans bring to the company.
I have two sons serving in the military, so it’s personal for me. As a leader in the company, I look at a lot of the training vets have, which is transferable to what we do at PSEG – especially their leadership skills. Vets have a sense of pride in leading. We need that at PSEG.
What are some things PSEG’s VETS EBRG does to support the veterans’ community?
Gonzales: This year, we’ve had about 21 community events with more than 650 participants. Two notable events were the Navy Seal Swim on the Hudson River to support a fund for disabled and homeless vets and the annual Tank Pull event, which raised $11,000 to support the community.
Our EBRG continues to grow, and it impacts people in PSEG and beyond. Our vision is that we will set the standard of excellence by leading the way in representing our company, our veteran employees and our respective communities, making a positive impact on the lives of veterans and military families.