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 Location
  • ENMAX District Energy
    407 9th Avenue SE
    Calgary, Alberta
  • 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, ENMAX, Calgary, AB
    Session 5: September 20-22, Annual Meeting, Tucson, AZ

  • General Cancellation Policy
  • Due to contractual obligations, cancellations received 15 business days prior to the program will receive a full refund. Cancellations received 6 to 14 business days prior to the event will receive a refund, less a $100 administrative fee. No shows and last minute cancellations, 5 business days prior to the event or less, will be responsible for the full registration fee. Substitutions from your organization for the same event are always welcome.
  • 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.


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Optional Capstone Group Time at ENMAX

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM


1:00 PM - 1:15 PM

Welcome to Session Four

1:15 PM - 2:00 PM

Culture “Shock”: You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

The often near monopolies of typical utility markets have historically allowed utility companies to remain static in their approach to delivering service. This is no longer an option as the utility industry is undergoing a transformation driven by new technology, industry and government changes, and evolving customer expectations. To successfully navigate the changes, utilities must make customer centric innovation a priority. Even for those with decades of experience that may feel “long in the tooth” trust that there is still plenty of bark left if your company is willing to challenge itself to succeed in this new reality that demands customer-centric innovation. So, how exactly do you “shock” the culture within an established company to drive customer-centric innovation?

2:00 PM - 2:45 PM

Turning Your Customers Into Utility Advocates in the Regulatory Arena

What if your customers advocated to your regulators for increased utility investment? In many jurisdictions there is a disconnect between the utility, customers, and the regulators in terms of what’s required for the utility to continue to offer safe and reliable service. This presentation will showcase how to build consensus, trust, and transparency with consumer advocates and other stakeholders on proposed utility investments and how to appropriately bring these investments forward to regulators to ensure a fair and educated assessment.

2:45 PM - 3:00 PM


3:00 PM - 3:45 PM

Are You Ready to Compete?

The traditional utility has experienced a slow evolution for more than a century. However, new technologies, customer needs and expectations, and changing government policies are forcing a more rapid evolution of utility business models. The monopoly that once defined a utility will no longer protect energy companies. Competition is entering many parts of our business and introducing new market segments. Energy companies need to consider how competition will influence strategies in energy procurement, generation, storage, transmission, distribution and customer programs/offerings. We will discuss the need for a fresh approach to address competition which will certainly play a big role in determining the future of the energy industry.

3:45 PM - 4:30 PM

How Does Betty Compete in a World of Veronicas?

Utilities have a lot to offer potential job seekers and can provide a promising career path for employees but why is it so difficult to recruit and retain top talent in the industry? This presentation will explore the latest strategies that utilities are using to attract high quality candidates and retain top performers as well as identify techniques and tactics exploited by other industries that may be applicable within the utility sector.

4:30 PM - 4:45 PM


4:45 PM - 5:30 PM

Drones “Flying Into the Future”

On August 29, 2016 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) enacted the first operational rules for routine non-hobbyist use of drones. These new regulations now allow anyone who passes the remote pilot certificate exam to legally fly drones for commercial purposes. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg released a recent statement regarding promising drone technology, “Eventually, our goal is to have a fleet of Aquilas (drone prototype) flying together at 60,000 feet, communicating with each other with lasers and staying aloft for months at a time – something that’s never been done.” Utilities are starting to embrace this type of technology that benefits all types of customers: internal, shareholders, and third party. This presentation highlights current utility drone programs that will help shape the future of this emerging technology, while exploring utilities’ ability and desire to embrace new technology.

Dinner on your own

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

7:30 AM - 8:00 AM

Breakfast at ENMAX

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

Strategic Planning
Speaker(s): Helen Wesley, Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, ENMAX Corporation

How do we ensure alignment with our Board, Executive and CEO through strategic planning and how do leaders then apply strategy to their teams?

9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Strategic Planning Overview + Corporate Strategy
Speaker(s): Ken Clark, VP Asset, Regulatory & Business Planning, ENMAX Corporation

10:00 AM - 10:30 AM


10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Leadership Discussion
Speaker(s): Pat MacDonald, EVP, People, Communications, and Engagement, ENMAX Corporation

Elevator speech wrap up
Facilitator(s): Leanne Dawkins, Manager, Customer Relations & Intake, ENMAX Corporation

People who have not yet had a chance to present their elevator speech, or who want to practice again, will give their elevator speech to the class.

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM


1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Leadership + Strategy
Speaker(s): Dale McMaster, Executive Vice President, Power Delivery, ENMAX Corporation

2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Peer to Peer Roundtable
Facilitator(s): Leanne Dawkins, Manager, Customer Relations & Intake, ENMAX Corporation

The group will divide into four areas; Customer/Comms/HR, Finance, Operations/Engineering, and Legal/Regulatory, based on their current positions within their company.  Students should bring issues/best practices/questions to address with their fellow students in these areas.  The purpose is to get feedback and perspective on how other companies approach your issues so you can have more tools to be successful.  Students who do not fit in to these four specific areas will join a table that closely relates to a group that they work with or support at their company or an area that they want to know more about.

5:00 PM - 6:30 PM

Reception with Executive Leadership

Sponsored by Black & Veatch

Hotel Arts Galleria Room
119 12th Avenue SW
Calgary, AB

Invited guests to the reception include executives from ENMAX, FortisAlberta, and AltaLink.

Dinner on your own

Thursday, August 10, 2017

7:30 AM - 8:00 AM

Breakfast at ENMAX

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

Speaker(s): Gianna Mannes, President and Chief Executive Officer, ENMAX Corporation

9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Shark Tank Activity

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

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Lunch at ENMAX

1:00 PM - 1:00 PM


1:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Optional Capstone Group Time at ENMAX

Hotel + Travel

  • Hotel Arts
  • 119-12 Ave SW
  • Calgary, Alberta T2R 0G8
  • Phone: (403) 266-4611

  • Click here to make your reservation now.
  • Reservation Instructions
  • Please contact the hotel directly at (403) 266-4611 to reserve your room. Identify yourself as being with Western Energy Institute to receive a special rate of $169 CAD/night. This rate is guaranteed until July 25, 2017 or until the WEI room block is full.

Meet The Speakers

Ken Clark

ENMAX Corporation

VP Asset, Regulatory & Business Planning

Helen Wesley

ENMAX Corporation

Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Pat MacDonald

ENMAX Corporation

EVP, People, Communications, and Engagement

Dale McMaster

ENMAX Corporation

Executive Vice President, Power Delivery
Learn More

Mr. McMaster is responsible for ENMAX’s regulated transmission and distribution (wires) businesses, along with regulated market services including metering, meter data management, load settlement, tariffs and billing.

Mr. McMaster has over 35 years of experience in the utility industry. Prior to joining ENMAX, Mr. McMaster served as Chief Executive Officer at the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO), President of the Transmission Administrator of Alberta, and Chief Operations Officer for the Power Pool of Alberta. He also has consulted with SNC, Acres International and SASK Power.

Mr. McMaster has served as Chair of the Independent System Operator and Regional Transmission Organization Council, and was also a member of the executive steering committee for the North American Electric Reliability Corporation Investigation of the North East Black Out in 2003. Mr. McMaster is a current board member of the Western Electricity Institute (WEI) and the Canadian Electricity Association (CEA).

Gianna Mannes

ENMAX Corporation

President and Chief Executive Officer