When Differences Build Strength

by Jerry Duvall

CS Week COO Rod Litke and I spend a significant amount of time strategizing ways to enrich the educational offerings that CS Week provides and directions in which to expand the conference. We have to understand how to adapt to the rapidly changing environment and new players impacting utilities, municipalities and cooperatives on a global basis.

We recognized that we were utilizing all our partners and creative resources except the vendors who had supported CS Week (formerly known as the CIS Conference) for decades. Vendors were obviously attuned to the needs of the utilities, municipalities and cooperatives we served, but often from a different angle. Here was a pool of key players who had never been asked for anything other than to exhibit, to speak and to sponsor. Would they be interested in a new role, sharing their expertise and taking our educational programming to an entirely new level?

The CS Week Executive Advisory Panel: Seated (L-R): Steve Hammond, Advanced Utility Systems; Rod Litke, CS Week; Mary McDaniel, Ventyx; Nancy Spring, Electric Light & Power; Kimberly King, InterWeave; Penni McLean-Conner, NSTAR; Vicki Trees, UtiliPoint International, Inc.; Guerry Waters, Oracle; Jerry Duvall, CS Week; and Richard Huntley, Nexus Energy Software. Standing (L-R): Henry Bailey, SAP; Tony Erickson, IBM; Greg Galluzzi, TMG Consulting; Rich Elmore, Systems & Software; Mark Wyatt, Duke Energy; Bill Malone, EDS; Michael Guerriero, Continental Utility Solutions, Inc.; John Wambaugh, eMeter; Ruediger Neubauer, ista North America, Inc.; Mike Foley, First Data Utilities; and Pat Keyes, Accenture. Not pictured: Russ Vanos, Itron; Rich Charles, Alliance Data.
Click here to enlarge image

Responses to our approach were thoughtful, then enthusiastic. Ultimately, 17 senior executives agreed to be part of a unique educational experiment. Representing competing vendors serving the utility sector, they quickly shifted their focus to the needs of CS Week Conference attendees, identifying new issues, fresh perspectives and alternative solutions.

Now in its second year, the Executive Advisory Panel (EAP) is proving to be our secret weapon for innovation in identifying must-have topics. Even direct competitors worked together to develop plans for next year. The result of their labors was dozens of recommendations to the CS Week Planning Committee for workshops.

“The EAP helps CS Week provide a venue where all participants can achieve their objectives,” said an EAP member. “With the help of the EAP, CS Week will continue to re-invent itself and address the industry’s most critical topics. The passion that CS Week leadership and the EAP put into this event is the reason why CS Week continues to be one of the most influential industry conferences year after year.”

Jerry Duvall, CEO, CS Week
For more information, please visit www.csweek.org

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