For this week’s Woman Wednesday, AY About You sits down with Lori L. Burrows.
Burrows is a native Arkansan who grew up in Saline County. With the exception of the two years that Burrows lived in the Federated States of Micronesia for the Peace Corps, she has lived in Central Arkansas her entire life.
Burrows is a lawyer by education, but her day job is being a full-time utility executive, managing safety, compliance and risk, along with a host of other responsibilities. Her favorite hobbies are spending time with her family, especially while baking, biking, hiking and traveling. Burrows also loves flowers, and buys fresh flowers each week and arranges them at home, thanks to Tipton Hurst’s Chris Norwood for his pandemic-era videos that brought Burrows so much joy. Burrows deeply enjoys collecting local art, too, either buying directly from the artist or winning it in silent auctions hosted by our great Arkansas charities.
We asked Burrows what it means to her to be a woman.
Burrows: In the energy industry – where I have spent my entire professional career – women represent only a quarter of the overall workforce, and only about 15% of industry executives. Yet, my being a woman is not what I feel is most notable or unique. Women are far less represented than men in my field, but I figured out early on that hard work, subject matter expertise and strategic thinking were going to propel me the farthest. My lived experience as a woman does keep me attune to how others are affected by the result of each decision or action I take and I consider that a huge asset. To paraphrase Maya Angelou, people do not always remember what you say or do, but they will always remember how they felt about it. My goal is to ensure people feel heard, even if the decision is different than they might have wanted.
We asked Burrows about the challenges that she has faced as a woman in her field.
Burrows: Living abroad on a Pacific island, I got comfortable with being uncomfortable because I stuck out everywhere I went. It was good training for me in this field, where I am one of only a handful of women who do what I do. The biggest challenge I have faced is in encouraging other women to consider this field and stay with it, long-term. It’s the very reason several dear friends and I formed Arkansas Women In Power in 2013, to recruit, maintain and promote more women in the industry. I truly believe the more perspectives shared at the decision making table, the better the long-term results will be. If we want to find new and innovative ways to address the new challenges our industry now faces, women and people of color must be part of the decision making process and the work to deliver positive results.
Burrows offers a word of advice to the young women and girls who read this article.
Burrows: The same advice I give my daughters: Remain curious, respect others, always take the high road and work your hardest. When you find something you are really good at and passionate about, and commit yourself to it, for the long-term. Performance always speaks for itself.