Welcome to our newest event, presented by the Women In Business Council. The Woman Effect is a virtual podcast-style interview with women who have made it, in a male dominated industry. Guests will be CEOs and/or executives from various industries all over the US. The entire event will be one hour, from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. The first 30-minutes will be the guest telling her story on FB Live while the second 30 minutes will be an intimate discussion with up to 20 women "offline" in Zoom.
This week's speaker: Cara Smith, E.I., PMP
Since 1977, Cara has gravitated toward jobs that tended to be male dominated. Why, not entirely sure, but they certainly seemed to be more interesting and challenging than many of the more traditional women-dominated roles. Particularly after arriving in Florida to care for her elderly grandfather. The key word that seems to run throughout her career is “opportunity”. Cara did a Toastmasters Speech titled “When Opportunity Knocks, Open the Door”. Those opportunities led her through a career spanning from an apprentice electrician, through Journeyman Wireman and progressing to obtaining her own State Certified Electrical Contractors License. Eventually, opportunity nudged her to complete a BS in Electrical Engineering and into a job with FPL where she progressed to Major Projects Project Management, leading some extremely interesting and challenging Transmission and Substation projects from conception to completion.
Cara grew up in Southern California under the care of two Type-A parents who stressed independence, education and a “there’s-nothing-you-can’t-do” attitude. Cara moved to Tampa Florida in 1977 where she was recruited by the NECA/IBEW Joint Apprenticeship & Training board which was being “encouraged” by Affirmative Action laws to diversify their workforce. Cara graduated from the apprenticeship program as the 1st female electrician in IBEW Local 915 (2nd in the state of Florida) and worked in the field for several years. Eventually Cara joined her father-in-law’s electrical contracting business where she gained experience in the business side. Cara obtained her own license and ran C.A. Smith Electric, a true Women-Owned contracting business, in addition to continuing support work at B.L. Smith Electric. Realizing there was more to learn, Cara left construction and returned to school full time as a non-traditional student. Since Cara was familiar with electricity, Electrical Engineering seemed the logical choice. Four years later, Cara was one of six female EE graduates in her class. In 1998 Cara started work at FPL in Miami in Distribution as a Service Planner and Engineer, then moved north to Juno Beach HQ into the Transmission/Substation Group as a Substation Engineer. Cara made the move to Project Management in 2009. Among other projects, Cara has managed the Interconnection of the new Riviera Beach Energy Center and the Turkey Point Nuclear Extended Power Uprate. Recent projects include several new underground transmission line projects with associated new substations to my current role as manager of the 500kV System Rebuild.
Cara has been married since the day after apprenticeship graduation. (Need to mention that those parents were also practical; why have everyone travel twice in the same year?) Cara had the opportunity to live in several parts of Florida and decided to build their retirement home in Levy County. Cara is a currently a pet-parent to two large spoiled-rotten dogs. Cara is an active member of the National Association of Women in Construction, Women in Energy and the Society of Women Engineers. Cara am passionate about mentoring young women in the pursuit of non-traditional careers.
Scheduled dates/speakers for 2021:
January 6th - Erika Larsen, National Geographic Photographer
Making It In the World of Photography
March 3rd - Cara Smith, E.I., PMP , Manager Project Management –T/S; Power Delivery, Florida Power & Light Company
Making It In the World of Electrical Engineering
May 5th - TBD
July 7th - TBD
September 1st - TBD
November 3rd - Pamela M. Rauch, Vice President, External Affairs and Economic Development, Florida Power & Light Company (FPL)
Making It In the World of Energy
Our Women In Business Council is a working council of the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce that promotes networking and education for professional women and women entrepreneurs while highlighting the women leaders in the community.