Valdosta Daily Times

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Business

October 21, 2012

Women in charge . . . and they mean business.

VALDOSTA — Women have come a long way from being pigeon holed into positions that require cooking, cleaning and care giving. Being a stay-at-home mom is now a decision of empowerment rather than a requirement. Women who decide to work full-time no longer are forced into clerical or secretarial positions. Last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 51.4 percent of managerial, professional and related positions were held by women, not men. In short, women are in charge and they mean business.

In celebration of October being Women in Business month, the Times sought out a few of Valdosta's finest female leaders. Terri Lupo, Suzanne Tanner and Cheryl Oliver are all in different realms of business, all have different stories, but all share the title of being outstanding women in business.

Terri Lupo is the vice president of the South Region for Georgia Power and has been working with the company for 32 years. As the VP, Lupo oversees 28 offices throughout Valdosta, Bainbridge, Albany, Tifton and Waycross.

"It's the largest territory in the state for Georgia Power," said Lupo.

In charge of approximately 190 employees, Lupo is pretty high up the food chain.

"I report directly to the executive vice president of customer service and operations and he reports to the president of Georgia Power," said Lupo.

In the state, there are only seven others who hold her same position. Out of those seven, four of them are women.

"Georgia Power has been very progressive in their diversity efforts and making sure that our team reflects the diversity of our customer base," said Lupo.

In what was once a largely male populated profession, Georgia Power employs a vast amount of women. Lupo's own family is quite exemplary of the company's profession. As a fourth generation Georgia Power employee, Lupo has followed in the footsteps of her father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

However, Lupo did not get to be in her position on her gender or company pedigree. She received her bachelor's degree from Columbus State University, her Master's in Business Administration from Mercer University and attended a program for management development at Harvard.

While she is second in line to the top, she worked her way up from the bottom.

"I started in a position called residential marketing representative," said Lupo. "In that position, I was responsible for promoting the Good Cents program."

Lupo helped customers make energy efficient purchases and decisions.

From there, Lupo moved up to customer service supervisor, where she was over an entire local office.

"From there I went to my first manager job," said Lupo. "I was over two offices."

Lupo then went to become an area manager in Gainesville, to a region manager in Rome and finally to her current position as a VP where she has been for seven years.

"I worked my way up step -by- step," said Lupo. "Each time the responsibility got bigger, and bigger, and bigger."

Lupo gives credit to the women that came before her that blazed trails in the industry and overcame obstacles. However, Lupo has been quite fortunate.

"I have received tremendous support," said Lupo. "Since Georgia Power has predominantly in the past been male dominated . . . there actually were a few female managers that were before me that probably had more obstacles."

Lupo is an example for how hard work and determination can lead you to the top, not just for all women, but in particular, for her 15-year-old daughter Amanda.

"She sees that she can accomplish anything she wants," said Lupo.

Lupo is a great example of the modern woman in the work place who started a career, waited later in life to have a child and now has that perfect balance between family and work.

"It's been good in helping [Amanda] understand that you have to be flexible and yet you have to have goals and figure out in life's hectic schedule how to meet and obtain those goals," said Lupo.

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