Building Successful Career on Foundation of Diverse Experiences

Finding opportunities to continue learning is key to overcoming unexpected challenges and finding success, said Ralph A. LaRossa, president and chief operating officer at PSEG Power.

LaRossa’s comments, made during the 2019 MBA Executive Speaker Series event highlighted his career and the lessons he learned along the way as he navigated a series of menial jobs as a youth, developed a career in engineering and climbed the executive ranks at PSEG.

Throughout “every one of those jobs I held throughout my career, I kept trying to learn, and I’ve done that at PSEG,” said LaRossa, who is also a member of the Montclair State University Board of Trustees.

LaRossa said his background illustrates how having a wide variety of experiences can better prepare you to overcome unexpected challenges, sharing an anecdote about lessons learned during some of those early jobs taught him never to be afraid to ask questions – something that proved invaluable during his professional career.

He described how on his first day working in PSEG’s electric transmission department in 2003, entire Northeast lost power.

“Because of my background, I was able to ask the right person the right question,” he said, adding that the information enabled him to restore power quickly.

LaRossa added another takeaway: the importance of building a strong team.

“Whatever you do try to surround yourself with good people,” he said.

LaRossa took the reins as president and chief operating officer of PSEG’s merchant generation business, PSEG Power, in October 2017. He previously served as president and chief operating officer of Public Service Electric and Gas Company, and served as chairman of the Board of PSEG Long Island.

LaRossa joined PSE&G in 1985 as an associate engineer, advancing through a variety of management positions in the utility’s gas and electric operations. In 1998, he received Gas Industry Magazine’s Outstanding Manager of the Year Award.

LaRossa is chairman of Choose New Jersey Inc., serving on its board of directors, and is the immediate past chair of the American Gas Association (AGA).

LaRossa offered an overview of PSEG’s strength in the market and business operations, and recapped major projects the company has undertaken, leading him to encourage MBA students with another takeaway as they navigate challenging situations and build careers:  “don’t try to tell people of power that you have the right answer, let them tell you what they want to do and help them achieve it.”

For more information on the Feliciano School of Business MBA program, please visit business.montclair.edu.