MBA Alum Manning Earns OPPD Award
MBA Alum Manning Earns OPPD Award
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Laura Manning, who earned her Master of Business Administration from the University in 2004, was recently named the 2016 Engineer of the Year by the Omaha Public Power Districts’ (OPPD) Society of Engineers. Manning is the first woman to win the award.
“Although being the first woman to win is wonderful, I’m more proud of the fact that I won because I am a professional in my discipline that competed against other professionals for the award,” she said.
Manning, a graduate of Lincoln High School in Lincoln, Nebraska, has been at OPPD for close to 15 years. As a Senior Distribution Engineer, she deals with OPPD’s electrical transmission, distribution, and interconnection facility expansions to ensure an adequate electrical system that meets existing and anticipated customer requirements.
“What I enjoy most about my job is the opportunity to continue learning from one day to the next, and apply the latest technological advancements when they provide cost-effective solutions,” she said. The biggest challenges are forecasting future needs and timing the installation of infrastructure to meet those needs at the right time. I write business cases and justify money spent based on anticipated returns. Trying to meet the needs without overbuilding, and therefore overspending, is a constant challenge in this position.”
A long-standing relationship between OPPD and Bellevue University first prompted Manning to look into the possibility of earning her MBA.
“OPPD has had a long relationship with Bellevue University through a partnership that takes advantage of our employee education program,” Manning said “I learned about the opportunity to pursue an MBA at Bellevue University through a career fair at an OPPD event. The tuition reimbursement and deferred billing were important to me, as was the ability to take classes online and work around my work/family schedules.”
Manning took her first class on campus before switching to the online format for the rest of the program.
“When I switched to all online classes, I did so for the scheduling flexibility. I was soon surprised that I learned a lot more online than in class. The required essays, questions and responses challenged me to research more thoroughly. I also was able to read what other students were contributing and respond back and forth with them,” she said. “I was exposed to many more perspectives than what I see in a more traditional (in-class) experience where a few people do most of the talking while many don’t contribute as much. The online experience was more flexible with respect to when I did the work, but required more overall time from me. I didn’t mind the trade-off of flexibility for more total time spent. I really benefitted educationally from the additional research and correspondence.”
Manning credited a strong support system for helping her achieve her academic and career goals.
“My husband and my kids help me get through the days when school and work get in the way and I need a hand. They are my biggest supporters. My parents have always encouraged me to have goals and do what it takes to achieve them. Of course, OPPD helped with financial and flexible work scheduling support that helped make achieving my MBA possible,” she said. “I think most, if not all, of the people who have touched my life know that to be successful in the engineering profession, the OPPD company and the community one person can’t do it alone. It takes a village. Many people have helped me get to where I am today and I am grateful to be blessed with the successes we’ve obtained together. Thanks to all my fellow villagers who helped me become the 2016 OPPD Society of Engineers Engineer of the Year.”
Manning pays that support forward through involvement with several groups.
“Community service is important to me,” she said. “Knowing I might make a difference to one or more of the young people I’ve mentored in the Partnership 4 Kids program is encouraging. I am actively involved as a leader in the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and a couple OPPD employee resource groups as well.”