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Local FPL exec fills predecessor’s role with aplomb

With the pandemic in its infancy in summer 2020, Devaney Iglesias took on a big task: taking over a high-profile position for a retiring FPL executive.

Devaney Iglesias was named external affairs manage for the Sarasota-Manatee market for Florida Power & Light in June 2020.
Devaney Iglesias was named external affairs manage for the Sarasota-Manatee market for Florida Power & Light in June 2020.
Photo by Mark Wemple
  • Manatee-Sarasota
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One of the first big changes in Devaney Iglesias’s life was the geographical and culture shock of moving from Miami, her hometown, to Huntington, West Virginia. She relocated to the Mountaineer State in 2013 to attend graduate school at Marshall University. “I moved in the middle of a blizzard in January,” adds Iglesias, who goes by Dev.  

But she quickly adapted to her new environment, and pursued a career in sports communications. She was on  her way, too. She was sports information director for Marshall for a stint, and a project manager for an Atlanta-based high school event marketing firm. “I wanted to be an agent,” she says, adding that her favorite sport is baseball, and “I was going to be the agent for the next Miguel Cabrera.”  

But the excitement soon turned to a grind, and Iglesias got burned out. “I wanted to work for a company where I could have a long career and lay down roots,” she says. 

The mom of a close friend from childhood had spent decades at Florida Power & Light. Iglesias reached out about a job there, and got one in marketing and communications, working out of the company’s Juno Beach headquarters. A subsidiary of NextEra Energy, a publicly traded company also based in Juno Beach, FPL serves some 5.7 million customer accounts, or 12 million people, across Florida. NextEra and its other subsidiaries combined for nearly $21 billion in revenue in 2022.  

Iglesias, 32, not only wanted to put down roots for an established business, but she also, in some ways, sought to find an environment she had while growing up in Hialeah. That’s where her large Cuban family, with dozens of cousins, aunts and uncles, not to mention her sisters and parents and grandparents, formed a loud and loving community, with many quinceaneras and backyard get-togethers. “I had the absolute greatest childhood,” she says. 

A relative in her grandfather’s generation was the first to make it to the States from Cuba, and he started a business out of an efficiency apartment, making baby furniture. That business grew over the years,  Iglesias says, and became a go-to spot for baby furniture and clothes around town. “I grew up climbing around all the boxes and making forts in the warehouse,” she says, “I grew up watching everyone work all the time.”

Iglesias’ new work home at FPL, which she joined in 2017, is like her family in that there’s always something happening, and sometimes, to move ahead, you have to stick up for yourself. That’s how, at 29, in June 2020, she landed a big promotion: being named area manager of FPL’s Sarasota-Manatee market, which encompasses some 640,000 commercial and residential accounts across five counties, including DeSoto, Highlands and Glades. She’s now the local face of FPL from customer disputes to storm preparation and aftermath to serving on boards and committees. She's the incoming chair of the Economic Development Corp. of Sarasota County, for one example.) 

Iglesias replaced Rae Dowling, who held that role for 14 years and was well-known around the region as a connector and problem solver. “She’s a legend,” Iglesias says. “It was really hard to fill her shoes.” 

In filling those shoes, and helping the team adapt to the change in leadership, Iglesias utilizes several key principles in change management. For one, she encourages the team to think differently on problems. “Just because someone hasn’t done something,” she says, “doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t look into it.”

She also wants to keep employees focused on FPL’s north star — to provide reliable, cost-effective and clean power for customers. “I want our people to see the bigger picture because sometimes they get buried in the day-to-day work at FPL,” she says. “My job is to make sure we all look up every once in a while.”

And Iglesias says she aims to lead, and learn, by example. She won’t hesitate, she says, to call people she admires, for example, in any field, and ask to pick their brains. “I’m always interested in meeting people who are successful and are real change makers,” she says. 

One element of her career, more than a decade in, that hasn’t changed is the significant role her immediate and extended plays in her life. A mom of two young children, she loves to boast about her siblings and husband, and knows whenever she sees her relatives at family gatherings, she is bound to be asked some variation of: How’s work? Have you been promoted yet? What cool things are you doing? 

“Everything I am today is because of my grandparents and parents,” she says. “I want them to be proud of me.”



Mark Gordon

Mark Gordon is the managing editor of the Business Observer. He has worked for the Business Observer since 2005. He previously worked for newspapers and magazines in upstate New York, suburban Philadelphia and Jacksonville.

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