Future leaders embark on sea of opportunity

The world is your oyster. It’s a motivational phrase with Shakespearean roots. Simply put, it means: in this great big world of ours, there’s a treasure that awaits each of us — much like that rich, lustrous pearl waiting to be discovered – when we take chances and take advantage of opportunities in front of us.

Earlier this year, a group of 16 CPS Energy employees were willing to take a chance in search of something invaluable to them: professional and leadership development. They were selected for CPS Energy’s 2020 Emerging Leaders Cohort (ELC) program, and for the past three months have been on a course to success.

This is the second year we’ve offered the ELC, and our Leadership Development team is again captaining this initiative by coordinating engaging and enriching activities for the participants. And although the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to social distance created some bumpy waves for this year’s program where collaboration and teamwork are critical, the cohort has been able to roll with those waves using interactive communication channels like Webex and Microsoft Teams.

“It’s important that our company continues to offer professional development opportunities for our employees, so we knew we needed to push forward with the program even amid the pandemic,” said Kim Gutierrez, ELC Program Manager. “Leadership is about coming up with solutions when challenges arise, and we did just that by getting a little creative with how the program is administered.”

Today, we launch a series of blogs featuring our ELC groups. On deck is Team OGs (Operation Generators). Much like seafarers name their vessels, the 16 ELC members were equally divided into four groups and each came up with their own team name. Since boarding the program in May, the cohort has been immersed in team building exercises, as well as self-discovery and self-assessment activities to determine their top strengths and personality traits.

Keep reading to find out what interesting things the four members of Team OGs learned about themselves and why they decided to go on this journey.

Exploring strengths

Nick Hoffman joined our Engineering Services group in Power Generation as an Engineer in 2015. He and his group run a tight ship, helping to ensure that our fleet of power plants keep running and remain reliable to meet the energy needs of our city and state.

“I learned that my greatest strength is being able to wade through tedious details and multitask,” said Nick, as he shared what the self-assessment tools revealed about him. “I discovered that I have a systematic approach to solving problems and what motivates me to be my very best is family and integrity.”

Karen Sanders, a Project Manager in Corporate Responsibility, finds her motivation in helping others. Since joining CPS Energy 18 years ago, she has coordinated our company’s United Way program each year – something she’s passionate about — and has led record-breaking campaigns. This passion for helping and uplifting others may be attributed to two of her top strengths, empathy and harmony.

Her super strength, however, is consistency. “I follow through on all my projects,” she said. “I can be counted on to come up with the best results possible. That’s my goal, so you can count on that consistency.”

Saying ‘yes’ when opportunities arise

The ELC initiative garnered a lot of interest again this year. Like last year, nearly 100 employees across the company applied, including Vanesse Hurtado, a Program/Project Manager in Integrated Security & Business Continuity. In this role, the 18-year veteran helps ensure our company’s assets are protected against physical and cyber threats, and that we have updated emergency plans in place.

When asked why she wanted to be in the cohort, she noted, “I always push myself to try different things, outside my normal boundaries, to where I’m uncomfortable but I’m learning.”

Vanesse shared that she sees the value in continuing to learn, adapt and adjust, and that includes when unforeseen obstacles or challenges occur, such as the pandemic.

Dennis Davis, who has nearly 23 years of service under his safety belt, also sees the value of continuous learning and improvement. Dennis notes that he’s always ready and willing to learn new things from those around him and apply them in his day-to-day activities, including in his role as a Journeyman Voltage Support. He and his co-workers in Construction & Maintenance Services ensure our customers have reliable, quality power.

As an Emerging Leader, Dennis looks forward not only to self-improvement but also to making his department and our company better. “I want to use the things I’m learning to improve communications with the customers and employees. I also want to make our company’s processes better and more efficient to save our company money and make our customers happier. They’re happy now but we can make them happier.”

Along with gaining insight into their strengths, personalities and leadership styles, ELC participants have enjoyed conversations with many of our company’s senior leaders, including President & CEO Paula Gold-Williams. They’re also meeting regularly with internal mentors, and each group is working on their capstone project, which they’ll present to senior leaders in November when the program concludes.

Stay connected to our Newsroom, where we’ll continue our Emerging Leaders Cohort series and feature the three other teams.

Pam Maris

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