General Manager and CEO, WSSC
A: I am a night owl and can stay up all night long. Mornings are, and always have been, hard for me. But there are three routines I do each morning to help me prepare for the day ahead. First and foremost, I either pray or read something inspirational. Secondly, I check my phone first thing in the morning for any emergency main breaks or other systems issues I need to know about. Finally, since I’m very intentional about what I want to accomplish each day, I write down one or two tasks I want to complete before I leave work.
A: As the provider of water and wastewater services to 1.8 million customers in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, I lead a business dedicated to public health, public safety, economic development and environmental stewardship. WSSC Water delivers something people can’t live without – water, life’s most precious resource. I provide strategic leadership, support and guidance to a dedicated workforce to ensure we deliver this essential service without fail. I also anticipate issues and help prepare the organization to quickly pivot to address an emerging issue. Additionally, I’m always projecting what the future holds and preparing for it today.
A: “The Memo” by Minda Harts was the last book that I read. It speaks to how women of color, in particular, should go about securing a seat at the table where decisions are made, recognizing the challenges of dealing with microaggressions, systemic racism and discrimination. It focuses on navigating through office politics, creating your network, negotiating the salary you deserve, mastering the tools for continuous improvement and reinventing yourself when necessary.
A: The water utility sector tends to be slow to change. We are a risk adverse industry, and for good reason. We have to be flawless in the execution of our clean water mission and we have a proven formula for what works. If we fail, lives are at risk. But change and innovation are happening at a brisk pace and we must embrace this change. So the one trend I’ve been championing within our sector has more to do with mindset than new tools or technology. We must strike the phrase, “but we’ve always done it this way,” from our vocabulary.
A: I live by Steven Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” and I consistently practice three of the habits: Begin with the end in mind; Put first things first; and Think win/win. Beginning with the end in mind helps me visualize my desired outcomes. Putting first things first allows me to use my best energy on what matters most. Johann Goethe said, “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” Lastly, thinking “win/win” ensures everyone feels heard and valued in finding solutions to problems.
A: Share what you know with anyone who wants to learn. For every position I’ve held, I’ve ensured there were several people ready to succeed me. That way, my bosses have never hesitated in promoting me because I always ensured there was someone ready to take my place. It’s the abundance mentality; there’s enough for everyone. Freely give your knowledge and always go the extra mile even — if you’re not getting paid for it – yet.
About Carla A. Reid:
Innovator. Transformer. Trailblazer. These roles aptly describe Carla A. Reid, the General Manager and CEO of WSSC Water. WSSC Water is the largest water utility in Maryland, and the 8th largest water utility in the country serving over 2 million customers.
Reid frames her career as the journey from “C.E.” (civil engineer) to “C.E.O.” (chief executive officer) at WSSC Water. After earning her bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Howard University, Reid began her career as an entry level Civil Engineer in WSSC Water’s Meter Shop. Then she held positions on every level of management from Field Operations Supervisor to Section Manager to Director (of two different departments) to Deputy General Manager. To complement her highly-technical skills and maximize her innate interpersonal skills, Reid earned her master’s degree in Human Resources Management from University of Maryland, Global Campus.
After 21 years of service, Reid left WSSC Water for 10 years and served in cabinet-level leadership positions in the two counties that WSSC Water serves. In Montgomery County, Reid joined County Executive Ike Leggett as his Director of Permitting Services, where she focused on making the permit process more efficient and restoring the community’s trust following a serious, highly publicized permitting violation that occurred prior to Mr. Leggett’s term in office. She then served as the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Economic Development and Public Infrastructure for Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, where she created a consolidated Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement and instituted visible community reforms under Mr. Baker’s Transforming Neighborhood Initiative, which took a strategic approach to ensuring equitable access to government services.
In 2016, Reid made her historic return to WSSC Water to serve as the 12th, and first woman, General Manager and CEO. In this role, she leads 1700+ employees and manages a $1.5 billion annual budget. Reid leads the utility in every aspect of its operations and administration, including: finance, supply chain management, infrastructure systems maintenance, engineering and construction services, environmental stewardship, government and community relations, and customer service. As General Manager and CEO, she fosters a culture of innovation and strives to form long lasting partnerships with stakeholders to strengthen WSSC Water’s brand and reputation.
Reid is widely recognized and respected for her leadership and professional expertise, not only in Maryland, but through national and international platforms as well. She currently serves on the board of directors for the National Association of Clean Water Agencies. In 2019, Carla was tapped to be the inaugural keynote speaker at the AquaTech Innovation Forum, an international event that brings together over 25,000 professionals in Amsterdam.
While recognized for her extraordinary leadership and management skills, Reid uses her platform to promote women and diversity in the water sector. Helping women to advance in their careers is of great importance to Reid as evidenced by the composition of her senior leadership team, which is 50% women and 50% racial minority and consists of people with diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, and ages. Reid hired the utility’s first female General Counsel. At WSSC Water, Reid initiated “Introduce a Girl to Engineering” and the “Engineering Academy,” programs that expose girls and underrepresented populations to careers in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM). She also serves as a mentor to individuals of all backgrounds at all stages of their careers. Reid is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
A dedicated public servant and community leader, Reid serves on the boards of Employ Prince George’s and the Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce. Prior board service includes tenure at Melwood, Montgomery Alliance, and Arts on the Block.
In 2018, Carla was named a Black History Hero by the Maryland Washington Minority Companies Association, and in 2019, was named as one of The Daily Record’s Top 100 Women of Maryland. Reid has been recognized by a variety of professional, civic and community organizations, and has received numerous awards, including: Innovation in Corporate Sector from Spectrum Circle; Legacy Business Award from Café Mocha; Distinguished Service Award from the Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce; Distinguished Local Government Leadership Award from Association of Government Accountants; Meritorious Public Service Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Metropolitan Washington; Bold Woman Award from Victory Grace Center; and the Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Award from Elizabeth Seton High School.