Julian to Retire as VP, Utility Operations
April 24, 2018
Mark Julian, vice president, Utility Operations, has announced plans to retire after more than 38 years with the company. Mark’s last work day is scheduled for June 1.
“Mark has had a tremendous impact on FirstEnergy throughout his career – from his efforts to enhance employee safety to his work integrating utility operations through three mergers to building our storm restoration processes into one of the best in the electric utility industry,” says CEO Chuck Jones. “While the company certainly will miss his expertise and experience, we wish him the best in his retirement.”
FEU President Sam Belcher says: “Mark has been a pivotal influence on the energy delivery business for many years, particularly in the safety area. His work has helped to improve FirstEnergy in many ways.”
When asked what he’ll miss most about FirstEnergy, Mark was quick to respond: “The people are what make this company great. When the chips are down – whether it’s a personal tragedy or a big storm – our employees rally in support. Through the mergers, we’ve become a bigger company, but the people are basically the same. There’s just something special about utility employees.”
Passion for Power Restoration
A Youngstown, Ohio, native, Mark started at Ohio Edison as a distribution engineer in 1980. As part of his early work assignments, he joined a team focused on improving the company’s power restoration efforts. “I was a young engineer and most of the other people involved were from the operations side – so becoming accepted was one of my initial challenges,” he recalls. “But from that point on, the storm restoration process became one of my biggest passions.”
Mark become a line supervisor at the Youngstown Division in 1987. “Making the move from the engineering world to the operations world was a big transition,” he says. “I ended up loving it – just helping to take care of our electrical system and dealing with people. It enabled me to develop my leadership ability and gain credibility with the work force.”
In 1987, Mark was named Transmission & Distribution superintendent of Ohio Edison’s Warren Division. At the time, Chuck Jones was superintendent of the Marion Division. “Chuck and I have known and worked with each other our entire careers,” Mark says. “He’s one of the mentors I’ve looked up to – along with (former FirstEnergy CEOs) Will Holland, Pete Burg and Tony Alexander. They were the right leaders at the right time for the company.”
Mark moved to the Akron Division in 1994 and then served as a director in various capacities from 1997-2001. He was promoted to vice president, Energy Delivery, in 2003, and was named to his current position in 2009. Among Mark’s achievements was leading the integration of utility operations for the merger between Ohio Edison and Centerior Energy – which created FirstEnergy – in 1997, the GPU merger in 2001 and the Allegheny Energy merger in 2010.
“From a utility perspective, we’ve remained on a steady course through deregulation and other changes to the business environment,” he says. “Now, we’re moving back to being a fully regulated utility.”
What has changed – in a relatively short period of time – is the technology available to the electric utility industry. “Up until 20 years ago, our work still was very manually intensive,” Mark says. “It wasn’t until the mid- to late-90s that we started to automate a lot of our processes. Today, we can answer thousands of calls through the IVR and process them via an outage management system. We have remote control devices and other technology that enable us to get the lights back on for our customers faster. It’s been a huge change.”
Driving Our Safety Culture
Employee safety has been another of Mark’s passions. “We work in an industry that can be very dangerous,” he says. “As result, we can’t let our guard down or lose focus if we want to make it home safely at the end of the day,” he says.
Last year, FEU employees J.D. George and Drew Powers were fatally injured on the job. “Coping with those tragedies was tough on everyone. But the memories of J.D. and Drew are what make us work harder and continue to drive our safety culture,” Mark says. “We should never forget those incidents, but it’s important to continue to recognize the thousands of employees who work without incident.”
Mark considers his work with FEU’s Labor-Management Safety Committee as one of the most gratifying experiences of his career. “The committee has been 10 years in the making, but it’s really taken hold over the past few years,” he says.
Comprised of participants from each of the 14 union locals representing FEU employees, committee members work together to jointly address safety and human performance issues throughout the company. “It’s become a collaborative process with everyone on the same page,” Mark says. “We understand that it’s not about the company or union – it’s about keeping our coworkers safe.”
In retirement, Mark plans to spend more time with family, including his wife, Kaye, and parents (who are in their 80s). Mark also has three children and three grandchildren – with a fourth on the way in July. Kaye Julian is director, Customer Management, in Customer Services. “I’d also like to do some things that I haven’t had a lot of time to do – like travel and golf,” he says. However, Mark admits that it might not be easy to remove himself from the work that he’s been doing for close to four decades. “It’s going to take a little time to get over the uneasiness when a big storm rolls in,” he says.