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This unsung hero keeps Alabama Power’s mechanics ahead of the curve

The love of mathematics and tinkering with electronics opens the door for many future engineers and so it was for Fleet Services Technology Manager Melissa Stewart.

Numerous conversations with her uncle led Stewart to study electrical engineering at the University of South Alabama, where she began her career path.

“Fleet Services has a strong team: Melissa plays a significant role in keeping the team strong,” said Fleet Services Manager Jeff Martin. “Her background in Power Delivery is an asset to Fleet Services because she has a good understanding of the way the equipment is used in the field.”

Melissa Stewart is an unsung hero at Alabama Power from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Stewart’s responsibilities include equipment design specifications, manufacturer accountability for new equipment issues and ensuring the technician training program is up to date with technology. She is responsible for vehicle and equipment engineering services provided to internal customers and she leads fueling support efforts during storm restoration.

“A lot of Melissa’s successes and accomplishments go on behind the scenes, and those accomplishments go a long way in ensuring our customers’ expectations are exceeded,” Martin said. “For these reasons, I consider Melissa a hero within the Fleet Services organization.”

Fleet Services provides management and maintenance support for the vehicles and equipment used in the process of generating, transmitting, distributing, maintaining, supporting and restoring power to customers throughout the company service territory. As value-added services, the organization provides crane maintenance and repair, and storm restoration fueling support.

Stewart’s team works to ensure safe, compliant and reliable vehicle specifications for distribution and transmission equipment to meet employee needs. They work with technicians to assist with troubleshooting and resolving vehicle problems. The team also plans for new technology to anticipate future employee needs.

“My first job was a cashier at a local grocery store during high school. After high school, I worked as a waitress for a local restaurant,” Stewart said. “I learned a lot, not the least of which is how rewarding serving others can be.”

While in college, Stewart began her career with the company as a co-op student in the Mobile Division Office. That’s when she realized she could apply engineering skills she was learning to serve others, in this case customers.

After she graduated, Stewart moved to Eufaula to work in the Engineer in Training (EIT) program. It provided her an opportunity to learn about Southern Company and Alabama Power. The program accelerated her learning process with structured training focused on the distribution system.

Over the years, she worked in roles gaining experience and developing relationships throughout the company. Stewart also learned while working storm trouble on Alabama Power’s electrical system and providing mutual assistance to utilities throughout the country. From Distribution to Transmission and now Fleet Services, she has learned to be flexible and embrace the array of changing environments every opportunity offers.

Looking back over her 26 years with the company, Stewart recommends trusting Jesus with decisions and building as many relationships as possible during one’s journey.

“Always strive to do your very best, work with others and learn as much as you can in your current role,” Stewart said. “If you decide to move to another role, don’t get discouraged. Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know.”

Her family has moved several times, especially at the beginning of her career. Stewart said the Lord has blessed her with a wonderful husband, three sons and a granddaughter. She will always be grateful for her family’s patience and endurance while making sacrifices during her career.