Inspiring Confidence in Future Generations by Pat Geraghty

  Pat Geraghty is Chief Executive Officer of GuideWell Mutual Holding Corporation and Florida Blue, Florida’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield company

Pat Geraghty is Chief Executive Officer of GuideWell Mutual Holding Corporation and Florida Blue, Florida’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield company

There are a lot of teachers that influenced my life and gave me the confidence to assert myself, to challenge and to ask questions. I remember a particular teacher in high school, Mr. Conklin, who encouraged me to not settle for the status quo and to push the norms. He’s a teacher I thank for his guidance in helping me develop as a young man.

My sister and my sister-in-law are also teachers, and I respect what they do to motivate children every day in their classrooms. Teaching is a job that is truly critical to our society, and it’s also proven to be critical to public health.

Research has shown Americans with more education live longer, healthier lives than those with fewer years in the classroom. And we all know from our own childhoods how influential teachers can be in sparking our desire to learn and further our education.

Great teachers know how to enthuse and connect with their students. They are able to engage and teach by inspiring and challenging. Skillful educators do far more than teach academics. They teach us to become good citizens and members of society.

I’m truly thankful for all our teachers who devote their lives to helping motivate and mold our next generation.

Pat Geraghty is Chief Executive Officer of GuideWell Mutual Holding Corporation and Florida Blue, Florida’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield company. A dynamic speaker, he is considered an expert voice on a range of health care topics including health care reform in the U.S., next generation payment strategies, innovation in health care and the benefits of wellness and prevention programming. He is frequently sought after for his expertise and insights by national media outlets as well as officials in Washington, D.C., and Tallahassee, Fla. Pat is active in leading several professional and community organizations including serving as chair of the Florida Council of 100, a private, non-profit, non-partisan organization of Florida business leaders who advise the state’s governor on how to improve economic growth in the state and the economic well-being of its residents. In 2016, Pat became a member of the Health Governors Community of the World Economic Forum. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Colgate University and a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, degree from Florida Southern College. He also has completed executive education programs at Harvard University School of Public Health and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Using Tomorrow’s Technology Today by Stephen Cross

As a digital innovation engineer, I work with our innovation team to see how we can use emerging technology to increase service reliability for customers. We look at technology such as 3D printing, augmented reality, virtual reality, robots and drones that can help us avoid and reduce the number of outages that customers experience, and restore power faster when outages do occur. Investing in this technology helps keep reliability high and work more efficiently, which in turn helps keep bills low.


I discovered my passion for engineering at a very early age. As a kid, I would take toys apart and put them back together. When I reached high school I realized how much gratification I got from building models and creating things from scratch, which led me to the engineering field.

I joined an engineering program and robotics team sponsored by FPL while in high school. It gave me the opportunity to learn about the different areas of engineering, like computer, electrical, environmental, agricultural and mechanical engineering. I ended up choosing mechanical engineering because movement and dynamics appeal to me.

When I first arrived at FPL, I was blown away by the company’s innovativeness. We’re not just an energy company – we’re a technology company. A recent innovation of ours is the substation robot. It’s not a robot like R2D2; this robot is a small self-driving vehicle that moves around and inspects a substation all on its own.  With its built-in cameras and sensors, it checks for abnormalities and potential issues, such as an animal building a nest or equipment that is overheating. Basically, it catches small issues so we can proactively fix them before they become big ones.

With hurricane season right around the corner, I can’t help but think about the technology we used during Hurricane Irma. During Irma, I managed our drone fleet. We used drones for inspections and damage assessments, which is invaluable after a storm. Drones are perfect because they are able to send us real-time information from places we otherwise couldn’t get employees or equipment into to inspect. This helps us be better prepared and in turn get life back to normal sooner for our customers.

I get really motivated by the problem-solving experience. At work, I collaborate with my teammates to brainstorm ideas – solving problems is what we do. We’re innovators. We work together as a team to match problems with innovative technological solutions.  Our investments in advanced technology, coupled with hardworking employees, allow us to work on solutions that help us keep bills low and reliability high.

A Lifelong Love of Learning by Penny Schaffer

  Penny Shaffer is the South Florida Market President for Florida Blue

Penny Shaffer is the South Florida Market President for Florida Blue

I guess you can call it a lifelong “love of learning,” though I am sure some might characterize it a little differently. I am fortunate enough to have finished 23 years of formal education with all the accompanying joys, scars, all-nighters and degrees to prove it. I’m careful to call it formal education because I really haven’t stopped learning, studying, mentoring or teaching. And the truth is, I don’t think any of us should stop the quest for knowledge.

I love my job at Florida Blue, helping people and communities achieve better health. I am also invigorated when I walk onto the University of Miami campus each week where I am an adjunct faculty in the business school. I look forward to my sessions each semester on the campus of Florida Atlantic University with the Student ACEs program, to visiting at area middle schools with the Orange Bowl Youth Leadership Academy and to mentoring sessions at local high school through a number of local non-profits in which I’m active. Education is truly woven into so much of who I am and what I do. The truth is, I hadn’t truly understood that until I sat down to write this blog.

My early years in school were spent growing up in rural West Virginia. My teachers were our neighbors, my parents’ friends and the deacons in church. The good news is that our town knew teachers as “people,” not just the limited view of them as taskmasters and disciplinarians that some people may have. The bad news is that there were no secrets. What happened at school was everywhere. Lucky for me, all of my teachers knew that I had a natural curiosity. Along with my parents, they encouraged me to channel my energies into finding out “why and how.”

As I reflect on how my parents, teachers and education shaped me, I realize I have always wanted to learn, study, know and grow.Whether it was a text book in school, a cookbook, a fiction or non-fiction novel, an article on leadership or a book about world history or even one of my many hobbies, I have been “learning.” As much as I have gained from books, professors and others, I am reminded of how much I learn from others when I am “teaching.” My mother was a mentor with Take Stock in Children well into her 80s. When I briefly retired (after working for AT&T for 26 years and before joining Florida Blue in 2006), I spent one day a week as a Take Stock mentor in a South Florida high school and one day a week dictating/recording text books for Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D). Nowadays, I take tremendous pride and joy in helping share my zest for knowledge with my pride-and-joy, my 8-year-old grandniece.

Throughout high school, college, graduate school and in my PhD. program, including studying around the world, I have had the privilege of some incredible teachers. Teaching is so much more than simply explaining how to do something. It is about helping translate knowledge, skills, values and beliefs and helping shape a young or curious mind.

My own “education” is far from over, and I’m proud to be working to carry on a legacy of learning in so many aspects of my life.

Penny Shaffer is the South Florida Market President for Florida Blue, a leader in the state’s health industry. In this role, she leads the company’s regional plan for growing the business and the brand, as well as community, stakeholder and employee engagement. Penny is the recipient of numerous awards in health care and civic leadership, most recently the Power Leader of the Year from the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and the Claude Pepper Award in Healthcare from United Homecare. She leads and is active with a number of area non-profit and civic groups and is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Miami.



Using Tomorrow’s Technology Today: Interview with David Herlong

 Eric Swartz, David Herlong, and Stephen Cross

Eric Swartz, David Herlong, and Stephen Cross

What is your role at Florida Power & Light Company?

I’m the Senior Director of Distribution Control Center and Smart Grid Operations. I’ve worked here for 22 years. Before taking on my current role, I served as Director of Smart Grid and Innovation where I was responsible for key strategies in smart grid analytics, upgrading grid technology to improve situational awareness and leveraging our control center’s capabilities.

What does the Smart Grid and Innovation team do?

Simply put, we look to the future and see how we can use emerging technology to increase reliability for our customers. Within the last seven years reliability has increased by more than 30%, which is the top in Florida and among the best in the nation.

What is the biggest technical improvement that you’ve been a part of?

The biggest innovation and technical improvement would be the advent of the smart grid. When I was given the opportunity to lead the smart grid team I said, “The world is getting smarter and more tech savvy. Why can’t we? We must do better.” And, with our company’s commitment to continuous improvement – we did just that. Now we are utilizing smart meters, smart switches and thousands of other intelligent devices to modernize the grid. All of these technological advancements allow us to communicate with the grid, identify issues before customers are aware, and fix the problem faster than ever if one does arise. It is truly revolutionary for the energy industry.

Are there any challenges?

I enjoy working at FPL because of the people and the commitment to using technology to improve how we work. Plus, I really love seeing a vision come to life. It’s one thing to have an idea on paper but to have a team coming together as one to create something with such significance is very exciting to me. A challenge we face day in and day out, however, is Florida’s harsh tropical environment. Summer thunderstorms, hurricanes, heat and humidity, and salt water corrosion from the ocean are all real threats to what we create for and install on the grid. We test, and we test, and we test some more to ensure the product is durable and ready for those elements.