Darnell Sanders, director, Archview Division at Ameren Missouri

Darnell Sanders is the director, Archview Division at Ameren Missouri. The Archview Division serves more than 300,000 customers and encompasses all of St. Louis, the City of Clayton and South St. Louis County. Sanders also leads the team responsible for Ameren's Pre-Apprentice Laborers (PALs) program that recruits and develops future electrical workers for the physical workgroups. Sanders also leads the Underground Revitalization Program rebuilding and transforming the aged underground infrastructure as part of the Ameren Smart Energy Plan (SEP). He has over 37 years in the electrical energy industry.

St. Louis American: Tell us about your current position, its responsibilities and challenges and how you are able to make a difference.

Darnell Sanders: As the director, Archview Division at Ameren Missouri, I lead a team of 170-plus skilled craft and professional co-worker. Together we are responsible for delivering safe, reliable and effective customer service for more than 300,000 Ameren Missouri customers. The Archview division serves St. Louis city, the City of Clayton, and South St. Louis County. One of my key responsibilities is to build and maintain collaborative and productive partnerships with civic officials, businesses, and residences within the division. I take this part of my responsibility very personally and, as my leaders often remind us, "we serve with passion." As a lifelong resident of the area I am very passionate about my opportunity to serve at Ameren.  

St. Louis American: Business is a team sport. Tell us about your current team, how you fit into it, and who helps to support your work.

Darnell Sanders: The team I lead takes great pride in their work and are always up to the challenge. Interestingly, my direct leader, Patrick Smith, a former recipient of this award, also uses the analogy of sports in developing his lead team. Patrick often emphasizes, "The manager's job is to support their team and ensure they have the planning and preparation necessary to succeed." I trust my team to perform with a high level of competence, and they depend on me to have their back and support their efforts. I work with and through my team leaders to remove barriers and provide them with the resources they require to accomplish for our mission to power the quality of life. As the leader of the team, my job is to inspire through vision, equip though preparation, and motivate to succeed.

St. Louis American: Tell us about any previous positions you have held, in business or any other field, that contributed to your development and helped prepare you for your current role.

Darnell Sanders: I have served in a variety of positions from the Energy Centers, where the power is produced, to Substations, where the power is transformed for distribution, to Energy Delivery, where we deliver power to our customers. This perspective of the complete process helps me to understand the complexity of our system and what it takes to safely deliver our product.

St. Louis American: Tell us about any mentors crucial to your development.

Darnell Sanders: I have had many mentors in life and career, all of which have made powerful impacts on my thinking and perceptions. In business I have to give credit to my senior leaders, Patrick Smith, Mark Birk, Michael Moehn, and Warner Baxter – all have been mentors by example. One of the more career-relevant statements for me from Warner Baxter was concerning stewardship: "leave it better than you found it." That has become my personal intent in each of my career assignments: think about what I do, how I do it, and what will be the legacy benefit.

St. Louis American: Tell us about your educational journey.

Darnell Sanders: My educational journey was a challenge in itself. My father retired when I graduated high school and, although he assured me he would pay for college, I declined the offer and told him I would take care of it. I originally joined Union Electric (Ameren) with the goal to work seven years to save up tuition and pursue my education. I found that many of my co-workers at the time were attending school while they worked and decided to try that strategy. I first obtained an electronics engineering degree with the goal to be a Relay or Communications Technician. I later decided to follow a management path and worked to earn a business management degree. While pursuing that degree I was working rotating shifts and tried the online option. Online was very interesting, having classmates who at times were in other parts of the world. Getting to hear and discuss their views enriched the learning experience.

St. Louis American: Tell us about your future goals in business.

Darnell Sanders: I once thought that your career legacy was defined by how big or important are the things associated with your name. Ironically, now that I am in a position to do big and important things, I have found that it is really the small things you do every day that accurately define your career and your legacy. Just like building financial wealth through investments, you build career wealth through investing in others. Taking the time to share with others a passion and commitment to excellence and helping them develop not only enriches them but it enriches you as well. My future goal is to make as many career investments in my fellow co-worker as I can, to inspire and engage them in Ameren's future.    

St. Louis American: Tell us about any relevant personal information you would like to share with the community – your family, friends, home church, passions.

Darnell Sanders: I am the product of a large family. I always had someone to be there for me to mentor and coach me through life. I have many people to thank for their contributions to my life, but most of all I have to say thanks to my wife Beverly. She has been my best friend and biggest supporter of my life and career. I also thank my children Tascha, Christopher, and Joseph for their being understanding when I had to leave family functions to go to work. I love working with church and community; I serve on my local Jurisdictional Bishop's executive board and try to bring my business perspective to the church organization. I current serve as the Director of Strategic Planning for C.O.G.I.C. Urban Initiatives. These programs help create partnerships with religious and community groups to better serve our communities.

St. Louis American: Feel free to add anything else you would like to share with the community about education or yourself.

Darnell Sanders: Concerning business excellence I have three things I like to share with others. Be true to yourself – think about how you show up; be your best. Be true to your organization – take pride in what you do; do your best. Be true to your legacy – invest in others; give your best. At the end of the day don't let it be said the organization is better because you are gone. Rather, let it be said the organization is better for your having been there.

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