Hard work, not just Irish luck, powered this man’s career in energy
Mar 5, 2024
Mark Lemasney, with arms crossed, stands at an FPL power plant

Juno Beach, Fla. -- In the heart of rural Cork, Ireland, nestled among rolling, emerald hills, lay rows of potato plants stretched as far as the eye can see. With dirt-covered hands and sweat glistening on his temples, 11-year-old Mark Lemasney picked each potato with pride.  

For every 56-lb bag he filled, he earned 25 cents and often filled 100 bags in a day -- a hard-earned reward for his tireless efforts. Day after day, from dawn till dusk, Lemasney dedicated himself to the backbreaking task, working six days a week all while balancing schoolwork, Gaelic football and rugby. 

“If you showed the right work ethic and attitude, you were given more opportunities like milking cows or driving machinery,” said Lemasney while he recalled the days he spent working on his neighbor’s 200 acre farm. “It taught me to do better in school because this was not the life I wanted for myself, but it was a job you were proud of.” 

A strong sense of pride is deeply rooted in Irish culture. Vibrant, traditional dancing and electric music built around resiliency, family celebrations and the occasional trip to the pub runs deep in the Emerald Isle and Lemasney’s memories of his home country. 

Growing up in a middle-class family of seven, Lemasney felt the weight his work lifted off his parents’ shoulders. His father was a full-time factory worker while his mother worked around-the-clock raising him and his four siblings. 

“I put myself through college with the money I made on the job, even continuing to work Saturdays and Sundays to pay for my books,” he said with a thick Irish accent.  

When it came down to deciding on a future for himself, Lemasney found himself torn between two career paths: veterinary medicine or mechanical engineering. He knew he chose the right path when his senior year mechanical engineering thesis earned top honors (Queen’s Silver Jubilee Trophy) across Britain and Ireland.  

“My knack for mechanics came from watching family members fix things and learning from them,” said Lemasney. “Working on the farm, you didn’t call a mechanic to come fix machinery, you had to figure it out.” 

Mark Lemasney standing betweem two two classmates at a graduation ceremony

Upon graduating with a mechanical engineering degree from Munster Technological University, Lemasney not only bid farewell to the farm that had been like a home away from home for over a decade, but also said goodbye to his extensive family network in Ireland, including his 25 first cousins.  

“I tell people now to seize every opportunity, especially the tough ones,” he said. “That’s exactly what I did. I started my career working 80-hour weeks for many years.” 

From Asia to Africa, Australia and the Middle East, Lemasney’s role as an international field engineer building power plants accelerated his career. Then, his interest in learning the ins and outs of power plant control systems landed him between Rhode Island and Pennsylvania for two years commissioning power plants around-the-clock. 

“Early in your career you’re learning a lot of technical skills and understanding the business, but as you move into leadership you start learning how to leverage your skills to manage and inspire others,” he said.  

In 2003, Lemasney moved to South Florida with his wife, Courtney, and started his career at NextEra Energy as an engineer. Shaping the future of energy through innovation and investments in clean energy is what attracted him to the company and after holding ten roles over the last two decades, it’s still what continues to drive him.  

Today as executive vice president of power generation for NextEra Energy, he oversees more than 3,000 employees (who he calls teammates), and a massive fleet with 360 sites across 48 states and Canada supporting 70,000 megawatts of power generation.  

I've been very lucky to have Lemasney as my leader for the last five years. Being from India, I was surprised by how much I identified with his story coming to the US as an engineer in search of a brighter future,” said Krishnakumar Venkataraman, NextEra Energy Vice President Engineering Operations Support Services. “In the midst of all our diversity, similar life experiences bring us together and build our collective strength and resilience.”   

Lemasney’s commitment to providing essential energy has only grown brighter over his career, from working around the clock to provide fuel in the form of food for his Irish neighbors to now ensuring the lights stay on for millions of North Americans. 

“You've come a long way from the farm boy we remember growing up,” his father, John Lemasney jokingly said to his son with eyes full of pride.  

From potato fields to power plants, his journey is a testament to hard work, determination and seizing every opportunity that comes his way. 

“‘Never forget where you came from,’ is something I live by. Obviously, I came from very humble beginnings,” he said with a smile. “I never thought I’d be where I am today, but now I have the opportunity to help make my team and so many others successful.” 

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