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Powering lives for 55-years and counting
Fifty-five years for many is more than half of a lifetime. For Sue Harbin, it is how long she has worked for ComEd, the electric company that serves 4 million households and businesses in northern Illinois.
Sue started working for ComEd in 1962. At that time, there were no computers, no cell phones, and no conference calls. A land-line telephone and hand-written or type-written memos were the main means of office communications. Hard to fathom when today, with the touch of a finger on a small screen, we can immediately access information, call or text someone and even let the world know what’s happening in our lives via Facebook, Twitter or some other social media outlet.
In late November, Sue celebrated her 55-year anniversary with ComEd. She is the company’s longest-tenured employee.
During her career, Sue has held a total of 13 different jobs at ComEd and worked out of 11 of the company’s local offices. From Rockford to Joliet and several locations in between, Sue has been in several different roles, including: as a construction illustrator, lead draftsman, engineering construction designer, and drafting supervisor.
Her diverse work experience at ComEd keeps her excited about her career at ComEd.
“It’s important to find something you like to do and go for it,” she says. “You can become an expert in your field, but there are many opportunities available to become a well-rounded ‘Jack of All Trades.’ Pick something that excites you.”
Today, Sue serves as a senior business analyst in application support in Oakbrook, Ill., using her diverse skills as an instructor and problem-solver for colleagues using one of the company’s popular computer applications.
“I love my job, the people I work with, and the location I now call home,” Sue says. “I have no current plans to retire, but it is in my near future. It all depends on the health of my husband and myself. I am taking it one day at a time. God willing, I’ll be around for a while.”
ComEd has changed a lot since 1962 when Sue graduated as valedictorian from Carter H. Harrison Technical High School in Chicago. There was no money for college, so she joined ComEd as a bill register clerk in the service department’s Glenbard Headquarters in Lombard, Ill.
Asked what the company was like when she started, Sue says, “Back then things were different. Most of the people in power who worked at the company were men, there weren’t a lot of women who worked in the energy industry.”
In the sixties, there was a dress code that women had to follow, which included knee-length skirts or dresses with nylon hosiery and “sensible” shoes.
“In the late 1960s, things began to change and women began wearing everything from pants and leisure suits to miniskirts and platform shoes. We never looked back,” Sue says.
Sue has watched the times evolve, and today there is a more diverse workforce. There are not only more women, but there are also people from different cultures, generations, ethnicities, colors and creeds. ComEd employees work together to serve customers with excellence, care for our communities, and ultimately, power lives.
“Every year things get better and better,” Sue says. “The company is now more diverse and people have open dialogues on a regular basis – and that’s great.”
Sue’s hobbies keep her busy outside of work. She loves art, often sketching life-like images of celebrities. She’s always got a jigsaw puzzle in the works. “The bigger the better,” she says. She’s also a fan of wildlife preservation.
“We have deer, raccoons, skunks, squirrels, chipmunks, opossums, fox, coyotes, ducks, owls, hawks, other birds of all kinds, in our neighborhood,” she says. “I love them all.”
Next year will be another milestone for Sue.
“I have been married to Russ Harbin since 1968,” she says. “We are still going strong and will celebrate 50 years of marriage in April.”