Engineering Alumna and Board Member to Head Customer Service at Southern California Edison

Lisa Cagnolatti

Courtesy of Lisa_Cagnolatti

Nov 29, 2021

UCLA Samueli Newsroom
After a 22-year career at Southern California Edison (SCE) and three years in academia, UCLA chemical engineering alumna Lisa Cagnolatti ’83 will be returning to SCE as the senior vice president of customer service.

On Oct. 28, the company announced Cagnolatti’s appointment effective Dec. 1, along with decisions on other senior leadership changes, which include the selection of the current executive vice president of operations Steven Powell as the new president and chief executive officer. Powell is also an alumnus of UCLA, earning his B.S. in chemical engineering in 2000 and an MBA in 2010.

Cagnolatti is a long-standing member of the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering’s Dean’s Corporate Advisory Board (DCAB), having joined the board in July 2017. She is also currently an executive-in-residence at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business.

Prior to retiring from SCE in 2018, Cagnolatti had worked in the utility industry for more than 30 years. Her experience includes regulatory and environmental affairs, transmission and distribution, marketing and customer service. Recently, she received a call for help from her old boss SCE president and chief executive officer Kevin Payne, who is scheduled to retire Dec. 1.

“Because of my experience leading customer service organizations at the executive level, he thought of me and asked if I would be willing to return to the company,” Cagnolatti said. “After discussing the opportunity with my husband, I accepted the offer.”

In her new position, Cagnolatti will be responsible for all aspects of SCE’s customer experience, including programs, revenue services and customer communication. She is looking forward to returning to a role in which she can contribute to leadership development within the company.

“I am passionate about mentoring future leaders to help accelerate their growth and enable them to make a broader contribution to the organization,” Cagnolatti said.

Cagnolatti is actively engaged in the engineering community, especially at her alma mater. As a member of DCAB at UCLA Samueli, Cagnolatti helps to shape and advance mutually beneficial partnerships between the school and industry.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time serving on the DCAB,” Cagnolatti said. “Over the years, I have come to appreciate the dedication that my fellow board members have shown to the work and how much they care for the school community.”

“My UCLA education has simply been the most important component in my career success,” Cagnolatti said.

In addition to DCAB, Cagnolatti also serves on the UCLA Samueli Standing Committee on Diversity, which was launched in 2021 and is composed of industry leadership, faculty, students and staff in an effort to ensure the school is more welcoming and inclusive of all members of the community, especially those who are from marginalized or underrepresented populations.

“The importance and urgency of this committee’s work makes me very proud to be a member,” Cagnolatti said. “I am constantly impressed by the amount of progress and the number of impactful successes this committee has achieved in a short period of time.”

Aside from her busy career, Cagnolatti is actively involved in philanthropy, and educational and community organizations. She serves on the board of the Valley of the Sun United Way and is a member of the African American Women’s Giving and Empowerment Circle in Phoenix, Arizona. She is the president of both the newly charted Alpha Iota Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and its affiliated nonprofit organization, The Desert Pearls Foundation.

Looking back, Cagnolatti cites her time as a Bruin being the foundation of all she has achieved.

“My UCLA education has simply been the most important component in my career success,” Cagnolatti said. “Everything that I experienced and learned during my years as a UCLA engineering student set me on a path of leadership that has culminated in reaching the executive suite of a Fortune 500 company.”

For UCLA engineering students looking to follow a similar path, Cagnolatti advises they take full advantage of the resources and programs the school offers.

“Congratulations on choosing an amazing institution to pursue your education,” Cagnolatti said. “We hope that you will go into the work world with the confidence of knowing that you have all of us alumni rooting for your success!”

Chloe Slayter contributed to this story.

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