“I was able to start at Columbia Gas in an entry-level role and move quickly into a position where my skills could best be utilized.”
Growing up in rural West Virginia, Mary Cofield loved her hometown, but always felt a strong desire to travel. Mary attended West Virginia University, but unsure of what direction to take in her studies, she left the state to explore life outside of her small town beginnings. At age 20, she moved to Destin, Florida, and when Hurricane Katrina hit, moved to Biloxi, Mississippi to assist with relief efforts. She spent the next 8 years on the Gulf Coast, starting in customer service at local resorts and working her way up to auditing and management roles. Ultimately, the northeast called her home, and Mary decided she wanted to move back to be closer to family. Having now experienced life in both the country and city, Mary wanted to put roots down somewhere that provided the best of both worlds.
Before moving to the Pittsburgh area in 2017, Mary asked around for company recommendations and immediately discovered that Columbia Gas had a great reputation for training and promoting people from within. With no prior experience in the natural gas industry, but a significant customer service background, Mary wanted to get her foot in the door, and applied to a position as a customer service representative. “I knew that there were opportunities for upward mobility, so I did my best to show how my skills could bring value to both customers and the company.”
By January of 2018, Mary had transitioned into a regulatory analyst position at the Columbia Gas regional headquarters in Canonsburg, providing research data and assisting with regulatory filings and proceedings. A detail-oriented person, she works hard to make sure that the data is accurate and supports sound business decisions: “I like knowing that our research is done with the customer in mind. Our work is not just for the good of the company; ultimately, it benefits our customers and provides value to the people that we serve every day.”
Mary learned quickly that Columbia Gas’ positive reputation was well-earned, and she appreciates the personalized engagement and feedback: “You can tell that your co-workers and company leadership care about you and eachother, and that makes you feel valued as an employee. Having worked for other employers around the country, I know that’s not something you find everywhere.” Mary also participates in Genesis, an employee resource group that helps new employees integrate, engage and understand the business and culture of Columbia Gas and its parent company, NiSource. The Genesis team offers networking opportunities, helps with business literacy, highlights career pathways within the company and ultimately, assists with retention efforts.
Transitioning back to winter after being in the south for so many years was an adjustment, but Mary is a big fan of the outdoors and loves hiking and biking—the four seasons are nice, too. “I find my peace being out in nature and exploring new places.” The lake at Laurel Hill State Park in Somerset is a favorite spot, but she also enjoys Pittsburgh’s city life, particularly the Waterfront and Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery. When she and her boyfriend, Nate, are home in Mount Pleasant they love going to Brady’s Restaurant, a local hotspot serving American comfort food that overlooks a picturesque pond.
“Coming from a small town in West Virginia, Pittsburgh is the perfect blend of city amenities and access to the outdoors. We really have it all here.”