Business Acumen for Emerging Leaders: Challenge (Aug 08-10)

An intensive training for high potential managers and supervisors through exposure to broad perspectives of the utility business, its interrelationships and successful leadership strategies. This program is designed by a utility-driven Curriculum Development Team, and directed by facilitators, and executive and alumni mentors. Program sessions are hosted by member utilities and topics are presented by executives, subject matter experts and formal instructors. The first four sessions focus on leadership development, industry perspectives, customer connections, communications and strategic planning. The program includes a capstone project which is delivered to industry leaders at the WEI Annual Meeting. Participants build a broad peer network that continues well into their future careers.

General Details

  • Program Chair(s)
  • Neena Master

    • Program Location
    • NW Natural Gas World Headquarters
    • 220 NW Second Avenue
      Portland, OR 97209
    • Who Should Attend
    • Participants are nominated by WEI members and selected through a formal application review process.

      Applicants make a commitment to attend and actively participate at each session, and should plan time for additional work between sessions. It is expected that students commit to completing “homework” assignments during evenings and off-hours with additional assignments required outside of the normal work day. Each group is assigned one executive and one alumni mentor who will support the group’s development throughout the program and guide them to a successful final project.

  • Upcoming Dates + Locations
  • Session 4: August 8-10, NW Natural, Portland, OR
    Session 5: September 23-25, Annual Meeting, Newport Beach, CA

  • General Cancellation Policy
  • Due to contractual obligations and the critical role of group compositions for the success of the program, cancellations received after January 5, 2018, will not be eligible for a refund, and the organization will be responsible for the full 2018 registration fee. Substitutions from your organization for the program are always welcome prior to session one.
  • Participation Policy
  • Western Energy Institute programs and events are open to energy companies (including gas production and electric generation, gas and electric transmission and gas and electric distribution utilities). Select programs and events are open to energy industry product and service suppliers. Programs and events are closed to all media representatives and to the general public.
  • For more information contact Beverly Woolf, Program Manager at (503) 688-2790.


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

8:00 AM - 8:45 AM

Breakfast available at NW Natural

One Pacific Square
Hospitality Room, 4th Floor
220 NW Second Avenue
Portland, OR 97209

8:45 AM - 9:00 AM

Check In and Welcome to Session Four
Speaker(s): Neena Master, Director, Customer Contact Center, Southern California Gas Company

9:00 AM - 10:05 AM

Capstone Dress Rehearsal - Team TBD

10:05 AM - 11:10 AM

Capstone Dress Rehearsal - Team EhZ

11:10 AM - 11:25 AM


11:25 AM - 12:30 PM

Capstone Dress Rehearsal - Team Montezuma

12:30 PM - 1:30 PM


1:30 PM - 2:35 PM

Capstone Dress Rehearsal - Team Roadrunner

2:35 PM - 3:40 PM

Capstone Dress Rehearsal - Team Desert Sun Rising

3:40 PM - 3:55 PM


3:55 PM - 5:00 PM

Capstone Dress Rehearsal - Team Flaming 48

Thursday, August 9, 2018

7:30 AM - 8:00 AM

Breakfast available at NW Natural

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

Welcome to NW Natural
Speaker(s): David Anderson, CEO, NW Natural

9:00 AM - 10:30 AM

Strategic Planning
Speaker(s): Justin Palfreyman, VP, Strategy & Business Development, NW Natural, Tamy Linver, Sr. Director, Strategic Planning, NW Natural

10:30 AM - 10:45 AM


10:45 AM - 12:00 PM

Panel: From Strategy to Action Plan
Moderator(s): Neena Master, Director, Customer Contact Center, Southern California Gas Company
Panelist(s): Bill Edmonds, Director Env Policy & Sustainability, NW Natural, Mary Moerlins, Community Affairs/Environmental Program Manager, NW Natural, Ryan Bracken, Principal Economist - Strategic Planning, NW Natural

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM


1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Communications and the Strategic Plan
Speaker(s): Melissa Moore, Director, Corporate Communications, NW Natural

2:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Shark Tank Exercise
Facilitator(s): Neena Master, Director, Customer Contact Center, Southern California Gas Company

Students will work in a small group to form a new company and product or service related to the energy industry. Groups will report their strategic plan and product overview to the alumni mentors who will decide which company gets funded to move forward.

5:30 PM - 7:00 PM

WEI Reception for Students, Hosts and Special Guests

Meet at the hotel for a reception with invited guests including hosts and executives from Northwest Natural, Portland General Electric, and Bonneville Power Administration. Hilton Portland Downtown 23rd Floor, Skyline Level 921 SW Sixth Avenue

Sponsored by HDR Engineering, Inc.

Friday, August 10, 2018

7:30 AM - 8:15 AM

Breakfast available at Sherwood Operations and Training Center

20285 SW Cipole Rd,
Sherwood, OR 97140

8:15 AM - 8:45 AM

Safety Briefing

Everyone must be present for the safety briefing. Closed toed shoes are required.

8:45 AM - 9:45 AM

Tour of Training Lab or Scenario based training

Half of participants will attend each activity, then switch during the break.

9:45 AM - 10:00 AM


10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Tour of Training Lab or Scenario based training

11:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Business Acumen Homework Discussion
Facilitator(s): Neena Master, Director, Customer Contact Center, Southern California Gas Company

Discussion around highlights from the Session 4 homework assignment.

11:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Lunch/Wrap Up and Debrief
Facilitator(s): Neena Master, Director, Customer Contact Center, Southern California Gas Company

While we eat lunch Neena will facilitate a discussion on key take-aways from Session Four capstone rehearsals, speakers, and tour.

Hotel + Travel

  • Reservation Instructions
  • Please contact the hotel directly at (800) 774-1500 to reserve your room. Identify yourself as being with WEI – Business Acumen for Emerging Leaders – Challenge and use the discount code ‘BAS’ to receive a special rate of $199 USD/night. This rate is guaranteed until July 23, 2018 or until the WEI room block is full.

Meet The Speakers

David Anderson

NW Natural


Justin Palfreyman

NW Natural

VP, Strategy & Business Development

Tamy Linver

NW Natural

Sr. Director, Strategic Planning
Learn More

Tamy Linver is the Senior Director of Strategic Planning at NW Natural. Her area is responsible for strategic planning, the integrated resource planning, market research and decision support analysis. She has been with the company since 1991 and held various positions in Finance, Marketing, and Operations before being tapped to form the Strategic Planning department. An avid outdoors person, when not at work, Tamy enjoys working on her farm in Beavercreek, Oregon.

William Edmonds

NW Natural

Director Env Policy & Sustainability
Learn More

Bill is the Director of Environmental Management & Sustainability at NW Natural. In his current position he oversees a team that takes up current environmental compliance challenges and manages customer programs that touch the environment. He’s recently taken on the challenge of helping the company develop new, innovative efforts to reduce overall greenhouse gases emissions.

Mary Moerlins

NW Natural

Community Affairs/Environmental Program Manager
Learn More

Mary is the Community Affairs and Environmental Programs Manager at NW Natural where she works to continue raising the bar for sustainable and responsible, programs, operations and community support from championing Renewable natural gas to engaging the employee green team. Prior to joining NW Natural Mary worked in environmental nonprofits in Atlanta, GA focused on greenspace conservation, sustainability and environmental education.

Ryan Bracken

NW Natural

Principal Economist - Strategic Planning
Learn More

Ryan is principal economist on NW Natural’s strategic planning team, where he is part of a team that conducts analysis that support a number of areas in the company, including resource planning and environmental policy. Prior to joining NW Natural Ryan worked for the Oregon Public Utility Commission and as an instructor of economics.

Melissa Moore

NW Natural

Director, Corporate Communications
Learn More

Melissa is director of Corporate Communications at NW Natural where she oversees the company’s media relations and employee communications, and plays a lead role in issues management and executive communications.

She began her career as a TV reporter and anchor at stations around the Northwest, before transitioning into public relations where she worked at three agencies in Portland. Melissa is the co-founder of My Little Waiting Room, a nonprofit that provides free, drop-in childcare for families at the hospital. She also serves on the Community Advisory Board for Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Neena Master

Southern California Gas Company

Director, Customer Contact Center
Learn More

Neena Master is the Director of Customer Services for Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas), the nation’s largest natural gas distribution company serving nearly 21 million consumers. SoCalGas has over 8,000 employees and is headquartered in Los Angeles.

Previously, Neena has experience in community relations, pipeline safety, billing operations, customer services and marketing. Neena has over 20 years in the utility industry and has working experience with energy, federal and local government agencies, and manufacturing industries. Neena also sits on the Board of Directors for the Orangewood Foundation, Orange County Human Relations and Korean Health Education, Information, and Research (KHEIR) organizations. She is a Certified Energy Manager and has earned a Master Degree of Business Administration from Claremont Graduate University in 1999 and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from University of Southern California in 1995.