Published on January 23, 2017 by Philip Poole  

Degree/Year: M.B.A., 1996

Current: Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Southern Company

Bonus Fact: Greene was recognized as a 2015 Women Worth Watching company and executive winner by Profiles in Diversity Journal.

What would you say is the key to success in today’s world? Having a great attitude, being flexible and open to a variety of career opportunities, and having fun! 

What is the best advice you were ever given and by whom? My dad taught me to never give up or accept failure—learn, adjust, and move forward. For example, I finished high school with nearly straight A’s, so as a freshman in college when I failed a dynamics course in my engineering curriculum, I was devastated. I considered changing majors, which many of my classmates did. I spoke to my dad about it and he simply said, showing no disappointment, “Don’t worry. Take the class again, but make sure to get a different professor. Maybe that will make the difference.” He was right. I took it again and did great! 

Why did you choose Samford for your graduate business degree? I chose Samford for two reasons: it has a great reputation, and I wanted to get my M.B.A. while I was working. Samford offered an M.B.A. program specifically designed for working people to go to classes at night and on the weekends. 

How did your Samford degree prepare you for your current work with Southern Company? The best thing about Samford’s M.B.A. program is that it purposely integrated the textbook and classroom learning with my day to day work activities. Making that constant connection was a priority for the professors in every course, and I was required to use work situations and challenges as the basis for classroom projects. That enabled me to think carefully about and appreciate how the class work directly impacted my ability to perform better at work due to the lessons I was learning every day. 

What are you most passionate about? I feel it is very important for me to help women as they grow professionally and personally. I have two daughters who I’m proud to say are intelligent, responsible, independent, interesting, thoughtful and bold. I want them, and other women, to have every opportunity available to them. This means building a work environment free of fear, that allows for courage and imagination and that is beyond convention. Southern Company is an industry and thought leader, and I hope we can serve as an example to others. 

What advice would you give to students entering today’s work force? Never turn your back on opportunities. Often, we let opportunities pass because we feel we aren’t ready or the timing isn’t right. It’s important to remember people present paths to us because they know we’re capable, and with respect to timing, it’s usually never perfect. Get out of your comfort zone and go for it.

What is the biggest challenge you face in today’s marketplace and economy? The electric utility industry, like many others, is changing, and there’s no stopping it. Change is being driven by customer expectations and preferences, environmental considerations, fuel cost volatility and emerging technologies. Change is the new normal, and we need to embrace the change and shape it. Constantly hiring, training and retaining people with deep fundamental technical knowledge as well as new ideas and different viewpoints is important to help companies continue to stay relevant and important to their customers and remain a good investment for their owners.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.