The near 30-year professional career of Stephanie O’Connor has consisted of one employer: City Utilities of Springfield.
O’Connor, who was promoted in 2017 to vice president and chief information and people officer for CU, has steadily risen in the company since 1992. She recognizes her length of service for a single company is uncommon – particularly because it started when she was an intern while completing her bachelor’s degree in computer information systems at Missouri State University.
“Working for City Utilities has provided me with unique insight into the lives and priorities of those who live and work in all areas of our community,” she says. “I have worked for one company starting at the ground level as an intern and now serving as a top executive. As I have navigated my professional journey, I have learned a lot about how to be a ‘value add’ within an organization and the community.”
O’Connor has spent most of her career at CU in the information technology department, where she started as a specialist before rising to supervisory positions. Early in her employment, she introduced a version of an IT support center, which O’Connor says is among her proudest professional accomplishments. She says the support center, which created a centralized contact number for employees to receive IT assistance, continues to be a critical and vital component of the department.
“Due to the success of the support center, I have presented at industry conferences on ‘How to Start a Support Center.’ It is a wonderful feeling to help others and be part of making their day better,” she says.
As a member of CU’s executive committee, O’Connor says she’s always looking for ways to make a difference for the company, which employs nearly 1,000 and has a $632 million budget for fiscal 2022.
“My leadership skills help serve the community by leading teams to make smart decisions, hiring the right people with the right skills, and being fiscally responsible in providing technology and human resources solutions that enhance the services the company provides to the community,” she says.
O’Connor recently created Strong Women Achieving Goals, whose mission is to energize, enrich and empower women to better their personal and professional lives. Through the group, women are encouraged to achieve a work-life balance, be unapologetic leaders and create a network of supporters.
“This started as an internal organization at City Utilities to provide support to women in what has traditionally been a male-dominated industry,” she says. “Now it has taken off locally and nationally, having been promoted by local media and the American Public Power Association.”
Serving the community outside of CU also is a priority for O’Connor. She is on the Leadership Springfield Board of Directors and is an adviser for the organization’s Signature Class. Additionally, O’Connor is a member of Rotary Club of Springfield Sunrise, for which she is co-chair of its membership and social committee and past co-chair of the peacebuilder committee.
Plans for the Finley Ridge apartment complex in the growing community of Ozark call for four buildings, four stories apiece, with 48 units each for a total of 192, as well as a 1,500-square-foot shared community and fitness room.