Business Acumen for Emerging Leaders: Challenge – Session One (Feb 25-27)

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)
  • Anna Scarlett, Director, Shared Services, Avista

    • Program Location
    • Southwest Gas Corporation
    • Building C Auditorium 5241 Spring Mountain Road Las Vegas, NV 89150
    • 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.

  • Full Course Dates + Locations
  • Session 1: February 25-27, Southwest Gas, Las Vegas, NV
    Session 2: April 15-17, San Diego Gas & Electric, San Diego, CA
    Session 3: June 24-26, Tacoma Public Utilities, Tacoma, WA
    Session 4: August 7-9, Hydro One, Toronto, ON
    Session 5: September 15-17, Annual Meeting, Carlsbad, 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 31, 2019, will not be eligible for a refund, and the organization will be responsible for the full 2019 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.


Monday, February 25, 2019

1:30 PM - 2:00 PM

Travel by bus to Southwest Gas Emergency Response facility

Pickup location at The Palms is outside, near Mabel’s BBQ, by the yellow curb. The valet can provide directions to the bus area.

2:00 PM - 2:30 PM


2:30 PM - 4:00 PM

Tour of Emergency Response facility
Facilitator(s): Mike Hermsen, Specialist/Gas Operations Support Staff (GOSS), Southwest Gas Corporation

Southwest Gas Emergency Response Facility
1060 Alper Center Drive
Henderson, NV 89052

Safety clothing requirements
• Long pants
• Closed toe shoes
• Heels should not be worn

4:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Return to hotel

6:15 PM - 8:00 PM

No host dinner

Meet in the hotel lobby to join a small group for dinner. The Alumni Mentors will make reservations at a variety of restaurants.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

7:30 AM - 8:00 AM

Travel by bus to Southwest Gas Headquarters

Southwest Gas Headquarters
Building C Auditorium
5241 Spring Mountain Road
Las Vegas, NV 89150

8:00 AM - 8:30 AM

Breakfast at Southwest Gas

8:30 AM - 9:15 AM

Welcome to Business Acumen for Emerging Leaders
Speaker(s): Anna Scarlett, Director, Shared Services, Avista Utilities

9:15 AM - 10:00 AM

Student Introductions

10:00 AM - 10:30 AM


10:30 AM - 11:30 AM

Welcome to Southwest Gas
Speaker(s): Julie Williams, Division Operations VP, Tucson, Southwest Gas Corporation

11:30 AM - 12:30 PM


12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

Leadership Exercise
Facilitator(s): Jason Gardner, Administrator, Organizational Development, Southwest Gas Corporation

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Strengths Based Leadership Book Discussion
Facilitator(s): Anna Scarlett, Director, Shared Services, Avista Utilities

2:45 PM - 3:00 PM


3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Leading a Diverse Workforce
Speaker(s): Gail Zody-Serbia, Director, Corporate Human Resources, Southwest Gas Corporation

4:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Networking Tips Refresher & Close
Speaker(s): Anna Scarlett, Director, Shared Services, Avista Utilities

4:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Return to hotel

5:15 PM - 5:30 PM

Bus to the reception

Meet at the hotel bus pick up point for a short trip to the reception location.

5:30 PM - 7:00 PM

WEI Hosted Reception for Students, Hosts and Special Guests

Flamingo Casino and Hotel
Margaritaville, Clipper Level
3555 S Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89109 

7:00 PM - 7:15 PM

Return to hotel

For transportation from the reception back to the hotel, the bus will pick up from the Flamingo “Tour and Travel Lobby”.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

7:30 AM - 8:00 AM

Travel by bus to Southwest Gas Headquarters

Southwest Gas Headquarters
Building C Auditorium
5241 Spring Mountain Road
Las Vegas, NV 89150

8:00 AM - 8:30 AM

Breakfast at Southwest Gas

8:30 AM - 9:00 AM

Review of Day 1 and Welcome to Day 2.

9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Leading High Performing Teams
Speaker(s): Sharon Braddy-McKoy, Vice President, Human Resources, Southwest Gas Corporation

10:00 AM - 10:15 AM


10:15 AM - 11:15 AM

Leading Through Change
Speaker(s): Ngoni Murandu, Vice President/Information Services/Chief Information Officer, Southwest Gas Corporation

11:15 AM - 12:00 PM

Current Issues Assignment
Facilitator(s): Anna Scarlett, Director, Shared Services, Avista Utilities

12:00 PM - 12:30 PM


12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

Team Building Exercise
Facilitator(s): Anna Scarlett, Director, Shared Services, Avista Utilities

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Project Group Time

2:45 PM - 3:00 PM

Session Close and Introduction to the Elevator Speech
Speaker(s): Anna Scarlett, Director, Shared Services, Avista Utilities

Hotel + Travel

  • Reservation Instructions
  • Please use the reservation link to receive a special rate of $65 USD/night on February 24-25 and $105 USD/night on February 26 – 27, 2019. This will display on the website as an $85/night average daily rate. Alternatively, you can contact the hotel directly at (866) 942-7770 to reserve your room. Identify yourself as being with WEI or reference the booking code CAWEI19. Please note that this rate does not include a mandatory $29/night resort fee which includes guestroom wifi and access to other hotel amenities. This rate is guaranteed until February 5, 2019 or until the WEI room block is full.

Meet The Speakers

Anna Scarlett

Avista Utilities

Director, Shared Services

Julie Williams

Southwest Gas Corporation

Division Operations VP, Tucson
Learn More

Julie Williams is Vice President/Southern Arizona Division of Southwest Gas Corporation. She is responsible for overseeing operations throughout southern Arizona.

Her primary focus is providing safe, reliable gas service to southern Arizona customers through effective construction, customer service, measurement and control, engineering, and administrative operations. The division headquarters is located in Tucson, with district operation centers located in Yuma, Sierra Vista, Casa Grande, Douglas and Globe.

Julie joined Southwest Gas in 1997 as an Engineer in the Company’s Central Arizona Division. Over the next 10 years she held several engineering management positions of increasing responsibility in the Central Arizona Division until being promoted to Director/Central Support in 2008. Julie was appointed Vice President/Northern Nevada Division in 2010 and named Vice President/Southern Arizona Division in 2014.

An alumnus of Arizona State University, Julie holds a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering and an Executive MBA. Julie currently serves as Board of Directors Vice Chair for the Southern Arizona Leadership Council and on the board of the DM-50, a group of local business leaders that provide advocacy and support to the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

Julie likes to spend her free time with her husband, Kazuaki, and their 4-year-old son, Tomo. Favorite hobbies are hiking, watching movies and traveling.

Jason Gardner

Southwest Gas Corporation

Administrator, Organizational Development

Sharon Braddy-McKoy

Southwest Gas Corporation

Vice President, Human Resources
Learn More

Sharon Braddy-McKoy is Vice President/Human Resources of Southwest Gas Corporation. She is responsible for company-wide oversight and strategic direction of all aspects of Southwest’s Human Resources, Organizational Development, and Corporate and Administrative Services Departments. Sharon manages the Company’s workforce initiatives, including recruiting, learning and development, health and well-being, diversity and inclusion, and recognition.

Sharon’s primary goals include helping to accelerate the Company’s transformation through leadership, differentiated talent models, attracting and developing the best talent, and building a culture of engagement, agility, and innovation. Sharon’s efforts also include providing the highest levels of customer service to internal customers by building and maintaining robust, sustainable, and productive facilities supporting the mission and vision of the organization.

Sharon leads the Human Resources organization that acts as a steward of Southwest’s culture and engages a diverse workforce of more than 2,200 employees.

After joining Southwest in 1998 as a Human Resources Analyst, Sharon held many positions of increased responsibility in the Human Resources department. In 2012, the centralization of the company-wide Human Resources organization resulted in her promotion to Director/Corporate and Division Human Resources Compliance. She was named Director/Human Resources in 2013, and was promoted to her current position as Vice President/Human Resources in 2015.

Sharon holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a Master of Arts degree in Human Resources Development from Webster University. She is a member of Western Energy Institute, serves on the Human Resources Executive Forum Program Development Team, sits on the Board of Directors of Southern Nevada Industry Liaison Group, and is the president of the Board for Rebuilding Together Southern Nevada.

Gail Zody-Serbia

Southwest Gas Corporation

Director, Corporate Human Resources
Learn More

Gail joined Southwest Gas Corporation in August 2017 as the Human Resources Director. Some of her responsibilities include oversight of Corporate/Division HR, Employee Relations, Talent Management, Learning/OD, Recruitment, Diversity & Inclusion, and Compliance. Gail also has extensive experience championing process improvement initiatives and digital transformation.
Gail has over 19 years of Human Resources experience and holds a Masters Degree in Business Management, and an undergraduate degree in Sociology with a minor in Political Science.

Ngoni Murandu

Southwest Gas Corporation

Vice President/Information Services/Chief Information Officer
Learn More

Ngoni Murandu is the Vice President/Information Services and Chief Information Officer (“CIO”) of Southwest Gas Corporation. Ngoni provides vision and leadership for technology strategies that support Company objectives.

In his role, Ngoni is focused on defining the Company’s technology roadmap and overseeing the acquisition and development of technology systems to support business solutions.

Ngoni joined Southwest in May 2017. Prior positions he has held include: Vice President and CIO at NW Natural; Senior Vice President and CIO at NANA Development Corporation; Director/Global End User Services, Corporate Computing; Director/Corporate Computing and Network Services at Mylan Laboratories; and Director/Information Technology at West Virginia University Health Sciences Center.

He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Management Information Systems and a Master of Arts degree in Education Technology from West Virginia University.

Ngoni serves as a Board Member for CyberSmart NV, a non-profit organization focused on cybersecurity and is also member of the UNLV Lee Business School Information Systems Programs Advisory Board for the Master of Science – Management Information Systems (MS MIS) and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration – Information Management (BS IM) Program. Additionally, Ngoni is a member of the American Gas Association and the Western Energy Institute.

Mike Hermsen

Southwest Gas Corporation

Specialist/Gas Operations Support Staff (GOSS)