Michael Healey built his career in environmental law and even worked in Washington, DC, as an attorney/advisor at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). At first glance, it might sound strange that someone with that background now serves as an associate general counsel at Schneider Electric (SE), but Healey says it’s the perfect fit.
Consumers may think that Schneider Electric is a power company, but SE doesn’t make electricity. Instead, it specializes in bringing digital solutions and automation to energy management for residential and commercial properties. Through business lines in industrial automation and power management, Schneider Electric brings low and medium voltage power products and services to oil and gas, utility, transportation, banking, insurance, IT, and telecommunications customers.
“Everything we do targets energy efficiency and how to make power less expensive and more accessible,” Healey explains.
Healey first joined Schneider Electric as legal counsel in 2013 and says his friends and colleagues from the EPA approved of the transition once they saw the company’s goals and visions. SE’s purpose is to “empower all to make the most of our energy and resources, bridging progress and sustainability for all.” It pursues that purpose by partnering with businesses to help them realize their full potential in both efficiency and sustainability.
SE has announced environmental targets and six long-term sustainability commitments built around the categories of climate, resources, trust, equality, generations, and local. Its leaders are implementing a robust decarbonization program to assist their top one thousand suppliers in their efforts to reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent before the end of 2025. An annual sustainability report brings transparency and accountability as progress is tracked through quantitative performance indicators.
In 2022, Healey became SE’s associate general counsel of US commercial operations. He manages a team of seven legal professionals who provide full legal support to a variety of internal business units. In addition to coordinating all legal matters, he collaborates with the business units’ executive leadership teams to manage risk, introduce efficiencies, and improve Schneider’s speed to execution.
While Schneider is known for bringing innovation to the marketplace, the COVID-19 pandemic caused Healey and other leaders to realize they needed to shore up some of their tech platforms.
“The company and our workload kept growing during the pandemic, and we saw that we could leverage some existing tools to better manage the requests we were getting from our internal clients,” he says. Healey and his IT counterparts united to create a portal intake system designed to streamline how the business units he serves submit and track requests.
Since it was built with software SE already had access to, which had licenses in place, the platform came at a low cost. Leaders are using the system to look at turnaround times, provide metrics, and make a case for more headcount or other resources when necessary. It worked so well that Healey says other North American legal teams adopted it and are now starting to share the tool with teams in Europe and other parts of the world.
Although a strong company culture and corporate vision attracted Healey to Schneider, he was also interested in returning home to work in his native Rhode Island. Healey was raised by a single mother in the smallest city in the smallest state. Living within the 1.29 square miles of Central Falls gave him a desire to experience more. After studying history and secondary education at the University of Rhode Island, he ventured out for law school at the California Western School of Law.
During his time in San Diego, Healey met an influential property law professor who was also the head of the school’s environmental law program. The area sparked his interest, and Healey decided to finish his JD at Vermont Law School. He worked for Senator Diane Feinstein, went to the EPA, joined a title company, and opened his own firm.
These experiences prepared Healey well for his work at Schneider Electric. Over the last decade, he’s built legacy knowledge by supporting every business at the large, multinational company. In doing so, he’s developed important relationships with key leaders, gained their trust, and turned himself into a respected business advisor.
In the meantime, Healey credits SE’s senior vice president and chief legal officer, Peter Wexler, with driving SE’s legal department to be less reactive. They’re looking to implement more tools for increased customer satisfaction and will find additional ways to add value.
“I’ve always considered Michael a diligent, team-oriented leader: he is a key member of the Schneider America North America legal team and with the support of Chief Legal Officer Peter Wexler, his legal prowess and experience have helped support the continuous growth of Schneider Electric North America,” says Germaine Gurr, partner at White & Case LLP.
The implementation of new tools and other similar efforts are improving services so Schneider’s legal department can support the company as it partners with major clients. SE recently worked with Danone Evian to make bottling more eco-friendly. A multiyear maintenance and modernization plan helped drive sustainable outcomes and optimize costs.
Schneider’s teams provided consulting and audit services, power monitoring, and products like MV circuit breakers, MV switchgear, and ECOFIT solutions to reduce energy consumption, minimize downtime, and replace outdated and inefficient equipment. The certified carbon neutral plant reduced energy use by 34 percent per liter of water with an estimated savings of 315 metric tons of CO2 equivalent and 372 m3 of water.
It’s just one example of the impact Schneider can make. The French and Fortune Global 500 company has 135,000 employees in 115 countries and annual revenues of €28.91 billion. As the company pursues additional growth, Healey will do all he can to support its important commitments to both innovation and sustainability.