As we celebrate National Veterans and Military Families Month this November, Invenergy offers our sincere appreciation to our veterans for their service to the country and for the expertise and dedication they bring to our company and the clean energy field.

Veterans are uniquely positioned to excel at Invenergy thanks to the skills acquired during their service. Approximately 10 percent of Invenergy employees are military veterans, spanning from the staff at our Chicago headquarters to the technicians and plant managers working at our energy centers across the country. We are grateful to work alongside our veterans to build a more sustainable world and proud to highlight their stories throughout November.

Today’s spotlight is on Lisa Hernandez, a Payroll Administrator at our Chicago headquarters, who is an avid supporter of the Invenergy Veterans Network and has had many family members serve in the armed forces.

How long have you worked at Invenergy and what is your current role and responsibilities?

    I’ve been with Invenergy for almost six years and I am the payroll administrator for our US payroll. I am responsible for ensuring everyone submits their time correctly and on time, as well as processing payroll. I am also a resource for all US Invenergy employees who have questions ranging from how to enter time to setting up direct deposit or payroll deductions.

    When not processing payroll, I work on special projects such as audits and registering in new states where we’re developing projects and hiring employees. I am also a proud and active member of the Invenergy Veterans Network (IVN) and the Invenergy Women’s Network (IWN), where I get to partner with my colleagues on initiatives to make Invenergy a more inclusive workplace for people of all backgrounds.

    Please give a little background about your experience with the military.

      I was married to a Marine. He worked in the armory and inspected weapons and drove a two-ton truck while on missions. For two years we lived at Camp Lejune in Jacksonville, North Carolina and we spent another two years at the El Toro Air Station, near Irvine, California.

      One of the most profound experiences occurred in 1983. A suicide bomber attacked the US military base in Lebanon, Beirut, where 241 US military personnel were killed. Some of my neighbors lost their husbands. It was a scary and sad period. Shortly thereafter, we transferred to Irvine, California, which is where I began my career in Human Resources and Payroll. I was able to work at the Marine Corps mall alongside active duty service personnel, who were my coworkers and managers. It was very interesting to be a part of that environment.

      What has your career been like since working for the military?

        After we returned home, I worked for a steel company in Chicago pricing pieces of steel. I then took a few years off to raise my children and I opened a food pantry in my hometown of Gary, Indiana. I still run that food pantry thirty-two years later. Prior to joining Invenergy, I spent fifteen years doing Human Resources and Payroll work for a property management company in Chicago.

        How did you get your start at Invenergy specifically?

        At my last job, I worked six days a week and ten to twelve hours a day without any back-up. It was crazy, intense work, which I didn’t mind. But eventually, I got curious to see what other opportunities were out there. Although I was terrified to leave such a secure role, I happened to see Invenergy’s payroll position and applied. I had a phone interview the next day and everything happened so fast after that – I guess you can say, I got lucky or it was meant to be!

        At any rate, my time at Invenergy has been amazing. It’s been such a rewarding experience to be surrounded by such intelligent minds and I feel like I play a small but important role in serving our employees. I try to help them resolve any payroll-related issues they may have as quickly as possible so that they can focus on creating and maintaining the plants and development projects.

        Working so closely with members of the military, what skills, capabilities, and characteristics do you feel transfer over to the renewable industry?

          Military life is very structured and disciplined. Living and working with Marines for four years and witnessing up close how meticulous and purposeful they carried themselves 24/7 was both a privilege and honor. From how their military uniforms must be worn to the high-and-tight haircuts to the relentless schedules – there is no room for laziness or shortcuts, and that left a lasting impression. Being exposed to a culture of protocol and discipline helped instill in me those same core values.

          To you, why is it important that Invenergy commit to hiring veterans or military spouses?

            Military families deserve our gratitude and support for their years of service and sacrifice. I feel it is both honorable and patriotic for Invenergy to employ veterans and military spouses. What better way to thank a veteran or their spouse than to give them a great opportunity in their civilian life?

            And it just makes sense to hire military men and women because they are disciplined and understand missions. They also understand the big picture and that’s what makes them valuable in an energy-related role – you can count on them to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

            What does Veterans Day mean to you?

              My family had several members who served in the military. Besides my husband, I had two brothers who were Marines. I also had a cousin and two brothers-in-law fight in the Vietnam War, one of whom (Venancio “Benny” Vera) was killed in action.

              When the guys returned home safely, we were grateful and had wonderful celebrations. But we also experienced a very deep low when we got that knock on the door early one morning. I was five years old when my brother-in-law “Benny” died, and I’ll never forget the deep sorrow that hovered over our home for what seemed like a very long time.

              To me, every day is Veterans Day; but on November 11, when we as a nation collectively show our appreciation to our vets, well, that’s just an extra special day.