WEC Energy Group

Susan H. Martin, WEC Energy Group

Susan H. Martin

Ethics at the Core

Editors’ Note

Susan Martin was named to her current post in June of 2015. She previously held the same positions for Wisconsin Energy Corp. and We Energies since March 2012. Martin also serves as Compliance Officer. She joined We Energies in March 2000 as an attorney in Legal Services and was appointed Law Director – We Generation in June 2006. In December 2007, she was appointed Vice President, Corporate Secretary, and Associate General Counsel of Wisconsin Energy Corp. and We Energies. Prior to joining We Energies, she was associated with the law firm of Foley & Lardner LLP for six years. She earned her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in English and literature from the University of Michigan, and a juris doctor degree cum laude from the University of Wisconsin.

How do you define your role within the company and is it as much about business strategy as anything else?

The role of General Counsel for a company our size, but also a public company and one that has multiple regulated public utilities as its subsidiaries, has become much broader.

A General Counsel still leads the legal function and the in-house legal staff, and serves that traditional role. However, there is more emphasis on the strategic role that a General Counsel can play in helping business colleagues understand the challenges and risks that might arise from any particular path under consideration.

Today, a General Counsel more often has a seat at the table when strategic decisions are being made about the direction of the company.

Additionally, the role of General Counsel – and I’m an example of this – has broadened in that, years ago, a General Counsel was good only in that role. In the majority of companies today, the General Counsel also serves as the Corporate Secretary for the board of a public company, and also often serves as the Compliance Officer, both of which I do.

With regulation continuing to change or evolve, has it become a more complex environment from a legal standpoint?

There is never a dull moment. The pace is increasingly complex in all areas of regulation that we deal with, but the technology has also become increasingly more capable, so we can do much more than we could 20 years ago.

The same analysis applies whether we’re looking at financial regulation of public companies, or regulation of utility markets and the development of multiple business models for the delivery of utility services, or the increase in the number of sources through which we can generate or deliver energy.

What does good governance mean to you?

Good governance is making sure that, from the very top of the company throughout all levels, the decisions that are made, and the analysis that lies behind those decisions, are transparent to our stockholders, customers, communities, and employees.

I deal with the board of directors and they bring a diversity of experiences and perspectives to their constant consideration of how they can best execute their roles as directors. They ask us to continually research evolving best practices. Our governance has become more transparent to our stockholders, so we make sure we get their insight on how they, as owners, view the company and our governance practices and policies.

What makes this company so special?

What binds the company is its commitment, from bottom to top, to a culture that values people and conducts its business with ethics at its core.•