Lesley Berg, federal employee
Title: Electrical Engineer
Location: Huron, South Dakota
Region: Upper Great Plains
When did you start working with WAPA? In June 1983 I was hired to work for the UGP construction office in Huron under the Junior Fellowship program after I graduated from Alpena High School with nine classmates. I was enrolling in electrical engineering that fall at South Dakota State University. Each summer I would come back and perform various jobs from assisting the secretaries, engineering technicians and engineers to inspecting construction jobs. After graduation I worked at the Headquarters System Study and Design Offices for 10 years at the Denver West Office Park. In 1997, we moved to Huron to work in the newly formed UGP Engineering Maintenance Office that was created during transformation. I have been around long enough that our "name" has gone from WAPA to Western and back to WAPA.
What is the most interesting thing you have worked on at WAPA? I was an original team member on the Project Management Advisory Group and helped develop our Project Management Order and Manual. Prior to this process, WAPA construction projects were unofficially managed by HQ designers, regional engineers or construction engineers. As a result of the order, WAPA allocated dedicated full-time equivalents for project management and established programs to track training and development of project managers. On the technical side, working on the Watford City Substation stage addition with two major scope additions during the design phase due to load increases during the Bakken oil boom in North Dakota was interesting, challenging and frustrating at times.
What do you wish people understood about your job and the work you do? I need to have a basic understanding of many aspects of WAPA. As an engineer I review drawings, prepare facility studies and provide preliminary designs and cost estimates. As a project manager, I have to know about customer contracts, the fiscal budget, finance reporting, procurement and lands and environmental processes. But most of all it is important to realize that no one person has all the answers and that projects are accomplished with many team members and support staff, so knowing who does what is a key element to my job.
Tell us something about yourself we wouldn't find on your resume. I have worked in the same office as my husband, Wade, for 28 years, except for about a year when he was in Building 18 and I was in Building 19 with the transmission line design group. We are still happily married with two kids, so I think it has worked out okay. Also, I am a sci-fi and superhero nerd. I cannot wait for the next Star Wars movie!
How is what you do tied to WAPA's mission? My job helps WAPA's mission by keeping the power system reliable. I help keep the lights on by managing UGP facility projects that update aging or underrated substation equipment or provide new facility additions to support load growth, generation or redundancy to the system.