When your job provides multiple ways to live out your passion for bettering communities, you don’t need an escape. It’s why Leslie Sanders doesn’t have a hobby (unless you count cuddling her new granddaughter). She finds fulfillment in the day-to-day duties of her role as Vice President, Southern Division for Alabama Power Company.
When did you begin your career with Alabama Power?
I started working for Alabama Power in 1986. My job was to promote all-electric homes. Then, I moved into the public information representative position and did that for several years. Next, I was offered the position of first female lobbyist for Alabama Power, and I was skeptical at first, but tried it, and it was the best decision I ever made. I got to know people from all over the state and work on issues that I felt could make meaningful differences in people’s lives. I spent 21 years doing that before I moved into my current position in 2011.
What does your current job entail?
This is primarily the place where we focus on customer needs. I work with marketing and with the accounting functions, but the largest part of my job is external. Southern Division runs from Selma to Auburn and from Georgiana to Clanton. It is my job to collaborate with internal and external entities to enhance the quality of life in our service territory. A large part involves working with multiple organizations, from nonprofits, chambers of commerce and industrial development boards to mayors, city councils, counties and more to do what we can do to help support job creation and a higher quality of life. Whatever part I can play to lead those efforts, that is my job. And it is the most fun ever. It is an exciting period for Montgomery right now. I’m fired up about our new mayor and excited to see what resources we can bring to play a role in this time and to help revitalize all parts of our city. I look at it a bit selfishly too; continued job growth is the only way my business grows.
What do you love about what you do?
On a macro level, I love seeing things happen in communities that make life better for people and instill in them pride for their communities. I love seeing people wanting to invest in their community. I also love being a force for collaboration. No single business or person can do everything, but when we bring the right people together, we can do so much. On an individual level, every time I can help someone with their power bill, that is equally rewarding. The needs of every customer are important, be it an individual, a small business or a big corporation.
I’m now Chairman of the County Development Authority, the entity that will be working on putting the new whitewater project together. That’s going to be huge. I’m so happy to be part of things like this and like the F-35 effort. I’ve also been fortunate that my position has allowed me to serve on boards like that of Brantwood Children’s Home and others. I’m blessed to be involved with so many fulfilling things. But also fulfilling, and really the best thing about my job, is working with our people: our linemen, our engineers, our marketing reps.
Finally, working with the military here is really a great honor; I am in awe of these people and what they do. Today, we are really working hand-in-hand with them, through initiatives like TechMGM and more. That’s as cool as it gets.
What is your impression of Montgomery’s current heading?
We’re in a truly good place. I like the emphasis on start-up tech companies. In terms of the new industries and expansions announced just this year, we have had a phenomenal 2019. We have to continue to prove to companies that their leadership and employees want to live here, and I think our focus on quality of life has us set. With the foundation laid by TechMGM and MGMWERX and the new mayor, we are poised to go in the direction of progressive tech cities, and that will attract newer types of businesses. I think we’ll see next year that we are ready to bust out.
What are your interests outside of work?
My hobby is not having a hobby. I’m an old movie buff and a “Mouseketeer" at heart — I love Disney — but really, it’s quite special when the things you care deeply about are woven into what you do, day in and day out. That satisfies any desire to “get away.” I just love my job. I should mention that I’m about to have a hobby. I’ve got a new granddaughter named Lucy.
“Supporting the Chamber is a no brainer; it does such a great job being the conduit for everyone to have a seat at the table. It’s got such expertise in all things military, economic development, quality of life initiatives and tourism. You can see that our Chamber has done an incredible job.”
“I love being a force for collaboration. No single business or person can do everything, but when we bring the right people together, we can do so much.”