New I&M president has come full circle

Author: Mendoza College

Helen J. Murray earned a MBA in 1995 from the University of Notre Dame

A Fort Wayne native spent a busy first day on the job as the new president and chief operating officer for Indiana Michigan Power.

Helen J. Murray, 59, had conference calls and more as the new leader of the Fort Wayne-headquartered company. I&M has 2,650 employees and more than 580,000 customers in Indiana and Michigan. It provides energy from coal, nuclear and hydro sources.

Murray, a 1965 Central Catholic High School graduate, when she was Helen Romano, started out as a journalism major at Indiana University and later got into computer programming. She holds a bachelor’s degree in computer technology from Purdue University and a master’s of business administration degree from the University of Notre Dame.

Murray has a wide range of experience with the company, one of the reasons she decided to take the new job.

“I think this is an opportunity to make an impact in the operations of a company I basically grew up in,” she said.

Murray joined I&M as a programmer in 1977 in Fort Wayne, became administrative assistant in South Bend in 1992 and was promoted to district manager in St. Joseph/Benton Harbor, Mich., in 1994. In 1996, she transferred to American Electric Power in Columbus, Ohio, where she was involved in customer operations, including working as director of billing and credit operations. She most recently was AEP’s vice president-customer operations, which included overseeing AEP’s call centers.

Murray says she’s interested in taking advantage of new technology, ensuring the safety of workers and improving the customer experience on the Internet.

The company’s Web site, provides a customer service section to pay bills and make service changes online.

One thing she has learned as a supervisor is the importance of communication.

“You never ever can communicate as effectively as you want to. You must listen as well as talk,” she said.

Another thing she finds important is building a sense of teamwork, which helps improve productivity, she said.

Murray says she gained a lot of experience and knowledge about the company as she moved around various jobs.

It’s something emphasized by AEP’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, Michael G. Morris, who wants his leaders to have a broader viewpoint, she said.