Indiana 250: Jeffrey Harrison

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(Photo courtesy of Citizens)

Jeffrey Harrison is CEO of Citizens Energy Group, the locally owned utility that provides natural gas, thermal energy, water and wastewater services to more than 800,000 customers in the Indianapolis area. A company core value is a commitment to diversity, and since 2020, Harrison has served as chair of Business Equity for Indy, which aims to create a more inclusive business climate. He also is a board member of numerous organizations, including Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana, Indy Chamber, Indiana Sports Corp. and The Nature Conservancy in Indiana.

First job

My first job as a teenager was as a bricklayer alongside my father, where I did everything except actually lay the brick. I’d get his station set up, use brick tongs to carry the brick up ladders, and mix the mortar by hand. My father could sketch and plan a job, but when he was starting out, it was difficult for him to succeed. Even as skilled as he was, the culture and environment at that time wouldn’t promote him, and he couldn’t become a supervisor. Eventually, he took a chance and set out on his own. I learned from my father and the work we did together that success comes from perseverance, passion, and hard work.

Favorite device

My favorite device is my iPhone. I am lost without it. It has everything from my calendar to telling me where to go while driving to connecting me with my favorite store—Amazon.com.

Advice for a young person

First of all, don’t be afraid to break stereotypes. Diversity strengthens our workforce, so it is important for recent graduates and more seasoned workers alike to see people they can identify with and who inspire them to follow in their footsteps.

Next, don’t be afraid to take risks and make mistakes. The important thing is to own up to your mistake, learn from it, and use that knowledge to avoid repeating the mistake in the future.

Finally, use your experience and wisdom to give back. Whether it’s volunteering in your community, mentoring a student, or advocating for change on a local, state, national, or even global level, use your gifts for the greater good.

Favorite sports team

I love all of our hometown teams. Colts, Pacers, Fever, Indians, Fuel and Indy Eleven. Being a true fan of your team means you root for them every single time they compete. You can get frustrated with them, but you still stand behind them win or lose.

Favorite thing about living and working in Indiana

After graduating from college, I traveled to Indianapolis to interview at Indianapolis Power & Light. Slightly apprehensive, I was not sure the city was the right place for a young man who grew up in a close-knit community and attended a small university. However, in the hours before my interview, I walked around downtown and quickly realized the people were friendly, and the city had a vibrant, welcoming energy. Thirty-four years later, that welcoming energy is still one of the hallmarks of our city, and our downtown residents and businesses are working hard to instill its signature vibrancy once again.•

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