Photography by Dero Sanford
For more than three decades, Nick Brown helped supply electricity to the 18 million residents in the Southwest Power Pool service area. At a company where business + civic leadership blend seamlessly into improving the lives of Arkansans, Nick’s tenure with the organization leaves an irrefutable legacy in the community.
Southwest Power Pool was established with a mission that power drives the present and the future. “We are about the power of relationships,” notes Southwest Power Pool President & CEO Barbara Sugg. “Empowering others guides our community service. We strive to help meet the most fundamental needs – things like hunger, housing and education. We believe if those needs are met, people will be better equipped to further improve their own lives and multiply our efforts by helping others.” Nick adds, “We are all in this community together and we encourage employees to find a cause with which they have a personal connection.”
Nick retired from Southwest Power Pool in April after nearly 35 years with the organization. Throughout his career a constant remains – strong partnerships are the key to a bright future. “Culture is the ultimate strategy. When culture is well-aligned with a business model, regardless of the business, it creates an almost unstoppable organization.” As CEO, he encouraged colleagues to be “truly happy and live outside of themselves for the benefit of other people.” This translates into “happy employees and hardworking volunteers in the community.”
Highlights of the company’s philanthropy include invaluable support for the Heart of Arkansas United Way as a Corporate Cornerstone member, which allocates Southwest Power Pool employee contributions to nonprofit organizations affiliated with United Way. Nick explains, “I’m a firm believer in this form of giving of time and money because of the holistic approach to community need and volunteer oversight.” And a well-established partnership with the Arkansas Foodbank Summer Cereal Drive helps provide families facing food insecurity with cereal at its 324 member agencies.
Personally and most recently, Nick introduced strategic collaboration into lifesaving services that CARTI Cancer Center provides. He explains, “It aligned the organization into an enormously talented team treating cancer in one place – cancer focused, patient centered.” It’s this kind of vision and the value of community engagement that Southwest Power Pool reflects in every aspect of its business model. “Find an organization that needs you and what you uniquely bring to the table – then dig in and make it better.”
Barbara notes, “Southwest Power Pool had many milestone achievements under Nick’s leadership, but you can trace them all back to his commitment to our culture and core values like accountability, continuous improvement and collaboration. Because he encouraged all employees to understand and demonstrate these and other core values every day, we experienced an unprecedented track record of growth and success during his tenure.” Nick adds, “Our core ideology is simple: do the right thing, for the right reason and in the right way.”