Beth Perlman is an agent of change in an industry not exactly known for nimbleness: regulated utilities. When she joined the Constellation Energy Group in 2002, she became its first CIO.
“I called it ‘the 190-year-old startup company,’” says Perlman, now in charge of 721 employees and an annual budget of $260 million. “All the talk was about getting positioned for growth, but it didn’t have the platform for growth.” She inherited IT for four autonomous IT organizations and one totally antiquated HR system. Her first initiative was to conduct an “IT analysis project” and “internal merger,” which collapsed 13 general ledgers into one.
Her changes are credited with allowing BGE Home, a subsidiary, to strengthen its call center and field force functions, while helping to grow Constellation Energy from a regional provider to a nationwide powerhouse.
“I’m a business person who understands technology and I view technology as something that solves business problems,” Perlman says. “Technology is the easy part; it’s transforming processes and getting people to change that’s the hard part. But people get it now: Streamlined processes mean better profitability.”