Generating leaders and solutions for a bright future

It’s easy to have a simple view of CPS Energy, thinking of it only as the company that makes sure your lights turn on when you flip a switch, or your gas stove comes on when you turn a knob. On the contrary, CPS Energy is a complex business. It relies on forward-thinking leadership, and talented employees in all sorts of positions with all sorts of tasks, to keep it running and operating smoothly and effectively. New ideas and constant improvement are also key in ensuring our company thrives in the energy landscape where change is constant, and new technologies are emerging.

How is CPS Energy generating leaders, ideas and solutions to be successful now and well into the future?

One way is through the Emerging Leaders Cohort (ELC) program. Last year, CPS Energy piloted this professional development opportunity for its workforce. The program, among other benefits, enables select employees to develop and refine their leadership skills while working together and collaborating with other experts from across the company to develop solutions or improve processes for utility-related issues.

Earlier this year, 16 employees from across CPS Energy were chosen to participate in the 2020 program and split into four equal-sized teams. Today, we continue our series featuring these teams as we shine the light on “The Illuminators.”

The big picture

For the past five months, ELC participants have been immersed in learning about themselves – their leadership style and personality type. They’ve networked with and heard from our utility’s senior leaders who shared stories of their career journeys, overcoming obstacles and challenges along the way. ELC members also have completed developmental training and have virtually met with many of our utility’s leading subject matter experts (SMEs) to gain deeper insight into what other employees and areas do.

For James Self and Colt Allen of The Illuminators team, having the chance to collaborate with teammates and others, including SMEs, has been a rewarding and eye-opening experience.

With 10 years of experience under his hardhat, James shared that the program has broadened his knowledge of the utility and enabled him to learn about other areas that he’d not previously been exposed to. The Equipment Operator in our Underground Integrated Operations (UIO) department further mentioned that the program has given him the chance to collectively identify and work in solving problems with his team.

Similarly, Colt, an Energy Market Analyst on the Enterprise Advanced Analytics team, said he’s enjoyed collaborating with his team members, who have diverse backgrounds and perspectives, and with SMEs from across the enterprise. “It’s helped me better understand the processes and systems we use for serving our customers and helped me realize the value that can be unlocked by simply breaking down communication silos,” said the five-year employee.

The big project

James, Colt and their teammates Linder Scott and Daniel Otto worked tirelessly on their capstone project, another component of the ELC program. They collaborated and communicated while maintaining physical distancing. They presented their project to the utility’s senior leaders Nov. 4, when they graduated from the program.

“For the capstone project, our team was given a goal and it was upon us to take the initiative and work with other groups or areas across the utility to achieve that goal,” explained Daniel, who joined CPS Energy in 2015 and works as a Project Manager in Energy Delivery Services.

With Reliability being one of our utility’s Guiding Pillars, The Illuminators were challenged to come up with solutions for improving our Frequent Outage Investigation (FOI) process. This is a process CPS Energy follows on the rare occasion a customer contacts the utility with a concern about the number of outages – usually brief outages – they’re experiencing. Simplified, it’s basically a three-part process: the utility receives the concern or a request for an investigation into the cause of the outages, investigates and determines the cause, and responds back to the customer with the results.

“Streamlining this process by improving communication between business areas will allow us to provide the small number of customers who happen to experience frequent electric service disruptions with more prompt, transparent responses, demonstrating People First in practice,” said Colt.

The team took a deep dive into the project, listening carefully to pain points and concerns of impacted areas – Customer Service Operations, Customer Solutions and Power Quality & Reliability.

“It was important to meet with these stakeholders and constantly make sure our team was on the same page with them and then make sure our recommendations would actually help the process,” said Linder. The 22-year veteran employee has a lot of experience listening to others and coming up with recommendations, something she brings to the team. In her role as Contact Center Supervisor in Customer Success, Linder works to find solutions for customers’ issues and figure out a better way for them to do business with us.

After weeks of being immersed in the capstone project, The Illuminators were excited to share with leadership their solutions for improving our customers’ experience and keeping our entire community powered.

Congratulations to The Illuminators and our other three ELC teams for the great work on their capstone projects and for completing the 2020 ELC program!

Stay connected to our Newsroom, where we’ll continue our Emerging Leaders Cohort series and feature our final team in the coming days.

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Pam Maris

Pam is part of the Corporate Communications team at CPS Energy.