Top 25 Consultants 2010: Kate Fickle

Kate Fickle Kate Fickle
Director, Energy Practice
PRTM
Excellence in Energy

Kate Fickle, and her Energy team at PRTM, is helping a major West Coast-based utility cut its costs by $100 million per year. For the last four years, this account has ranked among the firm’s top three and was the largest in 2009.

It may seem that she was destined to be in her current role, but her journey has hardly followed a typical path. Fickle was born in Missouri, but lived abroad when she was very young and did all of her schooling in Asia. “It exposed me to different cultures, religions, backgrounds and incomes. It affected me as a person,” she says. “I saw how similar we all really are.”

As an adult, she continued to pursue overseas opportunities. She worked for IBM in Japan for five years. She later helped to open PRTM’s Tokyo office and has spent a lot of time in Northeast Asia.

And, remarkably, that diverse background now seems like a perfect launching pad for her current focus on U.S. utility companies. “You can’t have a one dimensional view to these companies,” she says. “Our advice can’t just be about saving them money. Utilities need help building relationships with their union workforce, while balancing environmental issues and community hot buttons. Based on my personal background, I believe there’s never a single point of view for everything. I believe you have to seek out new vantage points.”

Part of Fickle’s life story also includes the perspective of being a woman in several male-dominated situations. “I began my career as an engineer over the protest of my father. When I told my father I was going to engineering school, he felt that he knew how hard it was going to be. He knew how the female engineers he worked with were
discriminated against. But I told him, ‘I want to do this. I can do this.’ I like to overcome obstacles. I have certainly worked through a number of demanding situations, first as an engineer, and then as a woman in Asia in the 1980s.”

Because of that, “I take my role as a mentor very seriously,” she says. She works extensively with younger woman leaders within PRTM, as well as with female clients.

—Jess Scheer

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