New position: Vice president, information technology, and chief information officer, TECO Energy, Tampa. Previous position: Assistant vice president, information technology, TECO Energy, Tampa
By FRED W. WRIGHT JR.
Published March 1, 2004
Karen Mincey likes to figure out how things work. When she's stuck at a stoplight, she doesn't fret about the traffic; she ponders the inner workings of the stoplight. "Technology intrigues me," she said.
So Mincey is in an ideal world as vice president of information technology and chief information officer for TECO Energy. She's been with the company since 1990, and her electrical engineering background has served her well.
Her new position means a "much broader role in terms of responsibility for information technology," she said. This includes strategic planning and operations. "It's really just a higher level of accountability," she said.
Mincey also is responsible for meeting all the information security and protection procedures required for homeland security. She said she gets much of her work done at her computer after hours, "when everybody's gone."
"I like to think of (my job) very much as a firefighter's job," she said. "When we have a virus that may be threatening our network in any way, we generally have to pull together fairly quickly a response team so we're adequately protecting our network.
"Every day is different for me."
And computer viruses are an increasing problem in the energy industry, Mincey said. "We've been very fortunate - I wouldn't say lucky. It's the result of the skills of the folks on our team that very few viruses have penetrated our network.
"I can probably count on one hand in the past three years the number of viruses," she said, "but we see lots of them external to our network trying to penetrate."
Mincey said she sees her position at TECO Energy as "a 24/7 job. Things can break at any point."
Tampa Electric is the principal subsidiary of TECO Energy. Other TECO Energy businesses include Peoples Gas System, TECO Power Services, TECO Transport, TECO Coal and TECO Solutions.
Before joining TECO 14 years ago, Mincey worked eight years with Entergy in New Orleans, her hometown.
Mincey, 43, earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of New Orleans in 1982, then earned an MBA in 1988 from Loyola University.
She said she has enjoyed math and sciences since high school. She initially studied accounting but later found that electrical engineering was more intriguing. It wasn't until she began working in the utility industry that she discovered computers, she said.
Mincey and her husband, Earl, live in Tampa. Their daughter, Lauren, 18, is a freshman at the University of Florida.
Mincey is on the executive board of Hillsborough Community College and of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay.
She said she likes to speak to community groups and students about careers in engineering, "especially for females and minority students because I'm both," she said. "I think it's interesting that scientific fields, at least when I was in college, weren't necessarily encouraged for females.
"I like to talk about those specific topics so they know" their options, she said.