Veterans at NRECA: Jim Spiers

Job Role: SVP
Department: Business & Technology Strategies
Military Branch: Army

Explain a little bit about your career at NRECA. What is the core function of your current role and how does it support the mission of the organization?

James P. “Jim” Spiers

I head up the business and technology strategies work for NRECA. The BTS team works in partnership with our members, our other cooperative service network partners, as well as our associate members, agencies, national laboratories, foundations and universities. This work is directed to ensure the quality of life for rural America; economic prosperity across our service territories; and that environmental gain objectives are met. We also support these objectives through NRECA’s international work.

How did you get here? How has your background in the military influenced your career choices and your career path?

I served in the Army shortly after high school, attended college while in the Army and used the GI Bill for undergraduate studies (I received my BA in social sciences, emphasis in economics) and for law school (JD). While in the Army, I had the great opportunity to be involved in economic studies (troop readiness), engineering (materials readiness) and leadership training. Since law school, I have held a number of highly satisfying positions using my military training as a spring board to higher and higher levels of responsibility and for mission-driven service.

How did you become interested in your area of expertise?

I have always had an affinity for engineering, economics, research and technology and associated business models. I believe there are technological solutions for the issues we face.

Aside from your daily work, what appeals to you about NRECA as an organization?

Concern for community and concern for our membership, for developing economies and for the great folks who work for NRECA. The culture change initiative of NRECA—this was a factor in my joining NRECA—has been highly satisfying to see evolve and to be a part of.

What inspires you?

The heroic work of our members who risk it all to restore power, often in extreme circumstances, they are truly “first responders.” In addition, the men and women who serve our great country in the armed services and as other first responders, plus working with colleagues who are mission-driven are all inspirational.

What does it mean to you to be working in your current field?

This is a key time to be working in the energy industry. It is undergoing phenomenal change, both in terms of technology and consumer expectations. We used to be able to control our destiny through policy, now we do so through our business models.

If you could give one piece of career advice to someone who is transitioning out of the military, what would it be?

Find the closest fit to purpose that you can and then find a culture that is compatible with your life view. The Army was that for me a number of years ago, NRECA and America’s Electric Cooperatives are that for me today.

Read more profiles of veterans at NRECA.