Canada: Powerful Women: Indy Butany-DeSouza

Last Updated: October 9 2018
Article by Zoë Thoms and Corrine E. Kennedy

This week's Powerful Women series profiles Indy Butany-DeSouza, Vice President Regulatory Affairs & Privacy Officer, at Alectra Utilities Corporation, the second-largest municipally-owned electricity utility in North America.

In her dynamic interview, Indy shares her journey to the energy sector, as well her reflections on various roles she held before Alectra. With her unique experience, she shares her thoughts on the challenges facing the industry, from government intervention in the sector to opportunities for diversity and inclusion. Indy also reflects on what qualities and approaches can help women succeed in any industry – being brave, leading firmly and fairly, managing your self-talk and finding your authentic voice.

How did you originally get involved in energy-related work?

I confess – I didn't grow up dreaming to be Vice President Regulatory Affairs at a utility company.

I completed an undergraduate degree in biology and psychology at McMaster. I broke the news to my then shocked physician parents that I was not going into medicine, and I did an MBA at McMaster, graduating in 2000. My first role out of business school was at PriceWaterhouseCoopers in management consulting. I lived in Brussels for almost a year and travelled regularly to client sites in Lyons, Brussels and Milan. Based on my skill set, once I came back to Toronto I was put on a very interesting project – the opening of the retail market for electricity; the client was the Ontario Energy Board in 2001. Whether I caught the energy bug or it caught me, I owe so much to that one project.

Since then, I have not looked back. The issues and challenges continue to evolve and, as a result, I believe that people have made tremendous careers in the sector.

What are some of changes you have seen and what waves of change do you anticipate?

The extent of government intervention into the energy space and electricity more particularly is quite amazing. Many Ontarians are upset about higher electricity prices, and with good reason. The government strongly believes that it is within its mandate to manage the price of electricity. It is always a hot button issue with respect to elections. When you are trying to secure votes, creating policies for one of the biggest line items to hit Ontarians' disposable income is certainly a vote-getter. However, for the sector, what we need most is consistency and clarity in policy.

Another challenge we are facing is technological innovation and change. The sector struggles with the idea of making asset investments today, knowing that those assets are likely going to be stranded as technology changes.

A related challenge is the change in customer behaviour. Frankly, utilities are not going to be commodity companies anymore. We are either going to be data companies or we are going to be customer service companies.

Finally, the energy sector faces a challenge that is being felt in other sectors; we have an aging workforce and need to consider succession planning in order to have future leaders in place. My earlier comment was that I didn't grow up dreaming that I wanted to be in energy. Well, why not? It is a very innovative sector, full of bright-minded people, and it has huge challenges ahead.

Connected to this issue, as an industry, we don't always legitimize the experience of people who come from outside the sector. When we talk about unconscious bias, usually we are talking about gender biases and cultural biases – the way people look – but historically, we also have had an unconscious bias against recognizing the value of people's experiences outside the energy sector. We have a significant percentage of our workforce set to retire over the next 10 years and we absolutely need to recruit from other industries to get different minds with relevant experience and transferable skills.

What are the key challenges and opportunities that you see for women as leaders?

We should be teaching girls at a young age that it is brave to try, regardless of the outcome, and not to fear failure.

By not allowing girls to get comfortable with the concept of taking risks, we invariably affect the ways in which women think of themselves as leaders.

As women, we need to learn to be comfortable with failure or making a mistake – we often think of it as devastating as opposed to an opportunity for learning. It has taken me a very long time to realize that a business failure is not a personal failure. They are not the same thing. We need to remind ourselves to be braver, to be willing to stand out, and that it is okay to fail. That is a very big lesson.

From a leadership perspective more generally, we need to lead in a manner that is firm and fair. We may not be everybody's best friend, but we do need to earn our teams' and colleagues' respect.

We need to manage our negative self-talk. Negative self-talk is probably the single most counter-productive thing that we do to ourselves. It is dangerous because it impacts the way we operate as leaders and sabotages our efforts. It is important to take a proactive approach to the way you talk to yourself and self-correct. If you start thinking in a positive way, that contributes to your success. You become naturally a more inspirational person not only to yourself, but to other people around you.

Finally, women need to find their authentic voice and be able to follow through. You can be authentic in your own heart and yet, because of self-talk, not project that voice externally. Share and feed that authentic voice in everything that you do.

What would you say are the qualities that have gotten you to where you are today?

One factor is recognizing that the world is outcome-oriented and the energy sector perhaps more so than most. At Alectra, we deal largely in a regulated space where our regulator evaluates us based on outcome. Part of being successful today in a senior leadership role is the result of sharing that drive for outcome. However, I think being outcome-oriented – call it type "A," call it driven – gets you only so far. It matters how you got there. You have to consider how you deliver the results.

Another contributing factor is understanding the language of the position or context and anticipating what that audience needs. What do other people need from you in order for them to deliver? If you can constantly be seen as clairvoyant, that naturally tees you up for that next level. When a higher position opens, the natural question is 'who is next in line.' Even if the succession isn't immediately obvious, you may come to mind as a "go-to person."

Do you have any thoughts on the role the industry has in ensuring diversity and inclusion?

The executive team at my predecessor utility, Horizon Utilities, was 50% or more female. At Alectra, our Executive Committee is currently comprised of five Caucasian men. At first glance, from a diversity perspective, that might seem negative. When you look deeper, however, that outcome is a function of those individuals being the right people for the job at the time of the merger that created the company.

In the past few decades, when women started work at the utilities, they held roles in customer service and other administrative roles – much less frequently have they been part of the engineering groups or field staff or senior management. However, we are in a wave of change. It has taken one or two generations to get to the point where women are now in senior roles. Increasingly, women are making up a larger proportion of the senior leadership table, and getting the experience they need to be well-positioned to take positions in the C-suite over the next few years. Change is coming; it requires a bit of patience. I see it at Alectra; our women leaders are poised to move to that next level; in fact, our Senior Leadership Team is approximately 50% female today. The question will be in the next round of positions to be filled, when there are retirements in the C-Suite, who has acquired the relevant experiences to take those roles.

Going back to my earlier point, women need to take the proactive steps to get that experience and make themselves the best candidate and hopefully the first choice for the next leadership position that becomes available. Take risks, learn continuously and let yourself be seen as a leader.

In preparing for these leadership roles, it is often helpful to have mentors and sponsors along the way. I believe that you need both. Mentors are useful along the way to model success. However, I put more value on sponsors within an organization, because who else is going to lift you up? You can apply for the next role and you may get it without a sponsor – but someone in a position of influence having you in mind, or ensuring that you are presented with opportunities, championing you – that is critical.

What advice do you have for a woman starting her career in the energy sector?

Demand diversity of thought in your teams, because everyone thinks differently.

Also, be willing to promote others around you. That does not just mean promoting women. It is about promoting that next level of people, for example, facilitating opportunities for people that do not usually have them, including face time with senior leadership.

However, that next level certainly does include women. I have heard people say that women cut other women down, or think that there is not enough space in a boardroom for two women. Unless we are conscious about our efforts in that regard, it is never going to stop. If we are not willing to lift each other up, why should our male counterparts?

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions