A Leading Light
Janine S. Creager
February 1, 2008
When Carol Fineagan, CIO of EnergySolutions, tells people she was in the Girl Scouts for 20 years, she invariably endures the comment that she must have been held back.
“It’s not that I failed, but because I really loved it,” she says. “Girl Scouts got me out of my house and that was really important.”
Fineagan grew up as the oldest of four daughters in a dysfunctional family headed by an alcoholic father. Her mother, who dropped out of college, did her best to raise her daughters in the emotionally unstable environment.
“She really had to struggle, [but] she raised us to be independent,” says Fineagan, whose parents later divorced. Her mother was eventually able to return to college and taught the four daughters to never put themselves in a position where they were unable take care of themselves or their children.
“My favorite bumper sticker is ‘Your childhood is over,’” says Fineagan of the impact her mother’s example had on her life. “You don’t have to relive [your past] every day. We have to live it only once, if we’re smart. No matter what you’re born into, you can rise above.”
Following her mother’s advice, Fineagan attended Villa Julie College in Maryland to study to be a paralegal, then went on to the University of Baltimore where she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism and publication graphics. Her first job after graduation was as a creative coordinator for a direct mail firm. While there, she also discovered her great interest in the burgeoning field of technology. That growing passion eventually led her to Duratek, a leader in the nuclear services industry, where she served for eight years as chief information officer prior to the company’s acquisition by EnergySolutions in June 2006.
“I don’t think a leader is a sole source position, where there is just one leader, and everyone else is a follower,” says Fineagan. “[I believe that] the less sheep mentality, the better.” Under her guidance and direction, and that of president and CEO Steve Creamer, EnergySolutions has continued to expand, culminating with the company going public last November.
“We’re excited and we’re geared up and ready to go to support the organization with all its requirements,” Fineagan says.
While maintaining such a positive attitude may appear to be second nature, Fineagan knows all too well that “there are bad days, too. I learn a lot from the bad days, and don’t take them out on any person.” When things do go haywire from time to time, she is careful to examine her own actions to see what she may have contributed to set the present circumstance in motion.
“I don’t believe in ‘someone else’s fault,’” she says. “If a problem does exist, don’t walk by and assume that someone else is going to take care of something. [It’s important] to leave a place better than you find it.” This philosophy is one she eagerly shares with everyone she meets, from her team members, to the women she mentors in the business community, to her teenage son at home.
As to the opportunity to come on board at EnergySolutions, she says, “I could not pass it up. It has not let me down. I am most proud of not only my own team, but that we have such a diverse team of talent that has grasped Steve Creamer’s vision.”