by Leah Shapiro
The 13 participants of the inaugural Craft Development Program and its steering committee members gathered for the program’s kickoff event, Jan. 27-28, in Lakewood, Colorado.
The kickoff marked the official beginning of the new two-year leadership program for Craft employees. After a welcome from Administrator and CEO Mark Gabriel and Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Office Tony Montoya, Desert Southwest Vice President of Transmission System Asset Management Rick Hillis delivered an overview of the program and outlined expectations.
“We had several goals for this first meeting, and they were all achieved,” said Hillis.
In addition to covering administrative details, participants got time to meet with their mentors and understand the expectations around that relationship, began working on their Individual Progression Plans, and participated in teambuilding and leadership exercises and activities.
Sierra Nevada Electrician Neil Cutright found the IPP work to be particularly helpful. “After going though it as a group, I sat down with my supervisor and mentor and wrote down some ideas to help me get the best out of the next two years.”
The CDP program description outlines 13 leadership competencies that are expected to broaden participants’ skill sets and serve as a foundation for future leadership roles. Hillis observed that the “communications” competency played a large role during the kick off. “Participants had to get up on the fly and respond to questions in front of the group. They did a great job expanding their communication skills and had great dialogue as they reflected on a foreman or supervisor who they admire.”
Cutright shared, “I will be able to immediately apply what I learned from the ‘Understanding Leadership’ training. It forced me to realize how people with different personalities approach the same jobs and circumstances.” He added, “The CDP will give me training opportunities that I may not have had otherwise. I will learn leadership skills and get more technical training. I believe this program will help me to work better with my crew and other crews.”
Rocky Mountain Electrician Chad Rausch explained, “I applied for the CDP to gain a better knowledge of Western, and because it is good opportunity to better myself. The program will help me understand how and why some decisions are made, and be able to better support the power system.”
The CDP group will get together for face-to-face meetings about every six months, with their next meeting planned for June in Watertown, South Dakota. In the meantime, participants will continue to develop their IPPs and relationships with their mentors. The program also calls for participants to serve on committees, attend off-duty classes and complete reading assignments, including Western publications and trade journals. Participants will also complete a detail assignment outside their position of record.
Hillis said, "I was impressed with our 13 participants’ strong engagement and interest in the program. This capable and committed group can help to lay the foundation for this program for years to come."