Investor Spotlight with Matt Paul

Posted in News on November 18, 2020

Investor Spotlight with Matt Paul

Bio
Matt Paul
President and Chief Operating Officer DTE Gas

Matt Paul is president and chief operating officer of DTE Gas, DTE Energy’s natural gas utility which provides service to 1.3 million homes and businesses in Michigan. Paul is responsible for all utility gas operations, including transmission, distribution and storage as well as gas sales and utility midstream transportation.

Paul’s career with DTE Energy spans 20 years. Prior to his current role, he served as vice president, plant operations, Fossil Generation, as part of DTE Electric. He has also held senior leadership positions within DTE’s non-utility companies.
 
Questions:
 
Matt, you have years of Senior Executive leadership experience, in which I’m sure a lot of lessons were learned. What has been one that you’ve been able to pass along?
Prioritization is critical and then pay attention to details within those priorities. At the end of the day, details are what matters, but they’re too often overlooked because it’s hard and it takes time. It may not be the most glamorous advice, but those who pay attention to details set themselves apart.
 
Talk to us about company culture. What are some values that you and your team live by?
Two years ago, we began to really look at our culture and how we could make it even better for both our customers and our employees. We committed to four service keys that would drive DTE culture; we committed to being safe, caring, dependable and efficient. The order of these service keys is important. Safety will always be our first priority, both for our customers and our employees. I think that caring being second on the list surprised a lot of people. There was a lot of discussion whether the second key should be caring, dependable or efficient. We settled on caring because we want to be a company that leads with its heart, taking care of each other, our customers and the communities where we live and serve. And being dependable and efficient is also critical. They help us remain focused on delivering not only safe, but reliable, clean and affordable energy to our customers.
 
When we rolled out the service keys to our employees, we stressed that we can’t live these service keys externally until we apply them internally and serve one another first. Said another way, we know we can’t serve our customers with excellence unless the relationships we have internally are rooted in a service culture, so we have instituted several initiatives internally that are focused on collaboration.
 
 
Under your leadership, DTE Energy has achieved the Highest in Customer Satisfaction for Residential Natural Gas Service in the Midwest from J.D. Power. To what would you most attribute this success? 
The DTE Gas team is the reason that we were honored with the award. Our team is committed to serving our customers with excellence, regardless of the situation. Even during the pandemic, the Gas team has continued to treat our customers like family, keeping their wellbeing at the forefront of everything we do. Our employees have lived DTE’s service keys and our customers took notice.
 
 
DTE utilities have announced 2050 net zero emissions goals. What were some significant moments in that decision-making process that made clear the decision to do so?
DTE CEO Jerry Norcia has often said that climate change is the defining public policy issue of our time and we have the responsibility to be a leader for the environment. In that vein, DTE has made several industry-leading environmental commitments over the last several years. These commitments are right for the environment, our customers and our company, and we can deliver on them while also providing reliable and affordable energy to our customers.
 
In 2017, our electric company was one of the first to commit to reducing carbon reductions when we announced a commitment to reduce CO2 by 80% by 2040. Last year, we accelerated that goal and committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. And DTE Electric is well on their way, having reduced carbon emissions 30% since 2005. A key component of achieving net zero is renewables - since 2009, DTE Electric has been the largest investor in renewables in Michigan with a plan to triple our renewable generation capacity by 2030.
 
DTE Gas followed a similar path. In July of this year, we announced that DTE Gas would be joining DTE Electric in committing to net zero by 2050. This was an acceleration and expansion on our previous environmental commitment of achieving an 80% reduction in methane emissions for our own operations by 2040. DTE Gas is taking a holistic, unique approach to our net zero commitment. We are the only gas company in the country whose net zero commitment includes not only our operations, but also includes our suppliers and customers. And just like our electric company, we’re already aggressively moving toward that goal, having reduced carbon emissions across our infrastructure and with our suppliers by more than 30% since 2005. 
 
In total, by 2050, DTE will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35 million metric tons each year, the equivalent of taking 7.5 million cars off the road annually.
 
 
What is a book that you’ve read or an influencer that you watch that has made you a better leader?
Mindset by Carol Dweck is one of my favorites. There are so many lessons in this book including the value of setting stretch goals (necessary to really grow), the value of mistakes (they are necessary to learn and get better), and the value of receiving feedback (we all have a warped view of ourselves; others have a much more accurate view). If you have a growth mindset, you value feedback (and aren’t defensive about it!), know that you can always improve (add the word “yet”, as in “I don’t know how to do that “yet”), and are secure with and value making mistakes (and you own your mistakes and don’t blame others!). Dweck contrasts having a growth mindset with having a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset suggests that you were born a certain way, with limited potential, and no matter what you do, there is a limit to your ability to grow.  While we all have some of both (growth mindset and fixed mindset), Dweck suggests that the more we embrace a growth mindset, the more we will become.
 
Matt, you are active in the Autism community. Can you share with us why this is a passion for you? 
I have a 16-year-old son with autism and epilepsy. Helping our son navigate the world has had a tremendous influence on me, my wife and our three other sons. I really think sharing in Weston’s experiences has made us better people – more grounded and more grateful. But with all the challenges that Weston faces, we know that many families struggle so much more. That realization compels my family to do what we can to help. 
 
Can you share why it’s a priority to DTE Energy as a utilities company to invest in economic development?
A strong Michigan is good for our customers and our communities. Ten years ago, DTE committed to using Michigan-based suppliers whenever possible. Since that time, we have invested $11.4 billion with Michigan businesses. Last year alone, DTE spent $2.1 billion with Michigan businesses, creating and sustaining more than 9,800 jobs. The 2,332 Michigan suppliers that we partner with make impactful contributions to our communities; not only by employing thousands of people, but also by supporting critical services including schools, infrastructure and first responders. We recently committed to increasing our spending with Greater Michigan suppliers by $20 million in the next three years.