ECU alumna receives Duke Energy’s highest award

An East Carolina University alumna has received Duke Energy’s highest award for making extraordinary impacts on the company and its customers.

Malika Lindsey ’20 is among 29 people to receive the James B. Duke Award. The senior business and technical consultant was part of a five-person team that created a tool to identify customers who needed payment assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic and would then text or email them about enrollment.

Malika Lindsey (Duke Energy photo)

“To receive this award is a great honor,” Lindsey said. “I’m excited and awestruck as I was not expecting such recognition. It’s an awesome feeling to be recognized for working with passion and delivering excellence in the pursuit of helping others. It’s been an amazing journey.”

Lindsey earned a Bachelor of Science in industrial technology with a concentration in industrial engineering technology from ECU’s College of Engineering and Technology.

According to Duke Energy, the company offered customers COVID-19 relief measures that included suspension of disconnections, expanded deferred payment options, and the waiving of late payment fees. As normal operations began to return, the company recognized that many customers still needed assistance. The team on which Lindsey worked developed a digital self-service tool called the DPA (Deferred Payment Arrangements) MyRequest Tool for Duke Energy’s website that allowed residential and business customers to enroll in extended, flexible payment plans. As a result, Duke Energy offered help to more than 1 million customers in six states, with 48,000 customers enrolling in deferred payment arrangements, with more than 500,000 others establishing payment plans.

“By helping to deliver relief to those families within the communities the company delivers services to provided me and the team with motivation and a sense of purpose,” Lindsey said. “Collectively we all moved with a sense of urgency with the understanding that what we were doing was making a difference not only for our neighbors and communities, but it was also a part of history as we delivered on unprecedented solutions during unprecedented times.”

Lindsey worked with Kevin Alexander, Christopher Coggin, Paul Watkins and Nancy White on the tools that have proven to have a 99.99% reliability/availability rate since launch.

“I would like to thank my Duke Energy colleagues who worked closely with me on the project of a lifetime and for my colleagues that nominated me for the award,” Lindsey said.

As a distance education student, Lindsey said her fellow students and her ECU education were important to completing the project for Duke Energy.

“Having the opportunity to collaborate with my student peers online allowed me to become very familiar with video technology and how to deliver presentations using such mediums,” she said. “This exposure allowed me to be very comfortable leading project teams using the same mediums, and applying the process engineering concepts learned in my core classes helped to bring a successful outcome to what began as a very ambiguous project.”

Her online degree continued with an online commencement in 2020, but Lindsey called graduation day one of her fondest memories.

“Although disappointed that I was not able to walk across the stage due to COVID safety measures, I did like how ECU delivered the ceremony through Teams,” she said. “I thought it was a nice touch to meet the faculty, which is something that is unlikely to have happened if the traditional ceremony was held.”

According to Duke Energy, the James B. Duke Award recognizes successful teams and individuals whose actions and contributions represent innovative thinking, exemplify Duke Energy’s priorities and embody the company’s leadership imperatives. A committee of employees from across the company’s business units reviews nominations and selects the winners.