Has a new year ever been more welcome than 2010? Behind us is the most challenging year many of us have ever encountered—a year that shook venerable institutions and changed the game plan for utilities and customers alike. The year ahead holds promise for recovery and growth—and the need for education, information and training from the top down.
The Recovery Act announcement of utility, municipality and cooperative recipients of the $4.5 billion in smart grid investment grants was the high point of 2009 for those organizations. For others, it was a year of cost containment, hard work and innovative solutions as commercial customers closed and increasingly more residential customers struggled to pay. It also was a year that plumbed the institutional knowledge of utilities of every size and locale.
As the economy strengthens and utilities recover, the changes ahead in the industry are going to move education higher on the priority list than ever before. You may have already identified departments or processes that will be impacted in your own organization—all of which will require training beyond the hardware and software.
Justifying your education and travel expenses will be clearer and more imperative this year because you know you need it. Become your own best salesman and begin by giving your organization reason to send you this year.
Think in terms of return on investment. Which course at CS Week College will provide a road map for your key projects? How can one of the technical applications or business process CS Week Synergy Groups advance your business? Which of the 54 workshops in Conference 34 are: at the top of your project needs list; address current or future process changes; enhance revenue; or maximize the efforts of your people? How much can you learn from team members winning the Expanding Excellence Awards? Give management tangible goals for what you can bring back from CS Week, and plan to give a complete report when you return. Then act on all you have learned.
If you work on the operations side of your utility, DistribuTECH, March 23-25, 2010, in Tampa, Fla., is the leading transmission and distribution event of the year. On the business side, CS Week Conference 34 is the most comprehensive, excellence-focused educational conference for meter-to-cash utility professionals.
In 2010—and every year—education remains the soundest investment a utility can make in its people for a successful future.
I look forward to meeting you May 24-28, 2010, at CS Week in Nashville, Tenn. We’ll all see a great deal of change between now and then.
Jerry Duvall, CEO, CS Week