Aboriginal People in the Energy Sector: Jesse Perley

Jesse Perley, from Tobique First Nation, was unsatisfied working as a van driver and maintenance person in his community. He had graduated with a Business Administration degree from UNB so he knew he could do more; he also knew he would have to look outside of his community to do so.

“I graduated from Business Administration at UNB Fredericton in 2005 and was working for my community as a van driver and doing maintenance for the Headstart program,” said Jesse. “At that time, I had minimal options but I wanted a chance to apply my business knowledge and to exercise what I had learned, so that meant I had to look for work outside of my community.”

Jesse began his job search for something more in line with his career goals and decided to fill out an online application for a meter reader position with NB Power. During the interview process, Jesse completed a Pathfinder Survey which determined that he was better suited to the position of Residential Customer Advisor (RCA). That was over 4 years ago, and today, Jesse continues to be a proud part of the NB Power First Nation Affairs team as a Residential Customer Advisor.

The job had a major challenge in the beginning as Jesse had to be away from his wife and 3 year old daughter for 4 months of training.

“At the beginning of my employment, the position required me to be away from home for training,” said Jesse. “At this time I was married and a father of a 3 year old daughter who missed her daddy and that made it hard to live out of a hotel for 4 months. It’s hard to commit to something that takes you away from your family for a length of time but you need to focus on the overall success of it all. If you can overcome the short-term difficulties you can create the career that you want. The 4 months can be a barrier if you let it, but it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes you have to get outside of your comfort zone. You can’t allow for anything to take focus away and keep you from providing for your family and having a successful career.”

At NB Power, Jesse works Monday to Friday from 8am – 4:30pm providing customer support to the First Nation people of New Brunswick.

“The best part of my job is engaging with my First Nations’ brothers and sisters and educating them in ways that we can do better as energy users,” said Jesse. “I can assist my people with minimizing our environmental footprint through the efficiency programs provided by the corporation and province. This is in line with our major focus of sustainable energy and looking out for our next seven generations.”

Jesse is proud to recommend NB Power as a place for other First Nation people to work.

“I most definitely recommend NB Power as a potential place for my people to consider employment,” said Jesse. “The corporation is coming out of a hiring freeze and more and more opportunities are available. NB Power provides an excellent support system for their employees and encourages them to enforce the code of ethics, as well as, a respectful workplace.”

Jesse knows that customer service isn’t for everyone but for those interested he has some good advice:

“With customer service, you either know you are a people person or you are not,” said Jesse. “If you are, you need to be able to not take things personally, and if you don’t know the answer be willing to get back to people with the proper directives. The key is to treat people the way you want to be treated and it will come back full circle.”

Jesse is a firm believer in setting goals and having plans for the future. He also believes that all First Nations people are as qualified as anyone else who has the same training and education.

“When setting the bar for your life’s expectations, set the bar reasonably to allow for you to reach it and then extend that bar again,” said Jesse. “We will all fail but it is what we do after we fail that makes us a better person. Learn from your mistakes! I don’t set a ceiling for myself but I always try to make my next day better than the one I just completed.”

Jesse shared a quote from Michael Jordan, American professional basketball player and businessman, which inspires him on a daily basis.

“I’ve missed over 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot … and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”