Business Acumen for Emerging Leaders: Challenge – Session One (Feb 24-26)

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
  • Arizona Public Service Company
  • 400 N 5th Street Phoenix, Arizona 85004
  • 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: Feb 24-26, Arizona Public Service, Phoenix, AZ
    Session 2: April 27-29, Dominion Energy, Salt Lake City, UT
    Session 3: June 15-17, EPCOR, Edmonton, AB
    Session 4: August 5-7, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Los Angeles, CA
    Session 5: September 13-15, Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA

  • 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, 2020, will not be eligible for a refund, and the organization will be responsible for the full 2020 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 Kris Taylor, Program Manager at (971) 255-4969.


Monday, February 24, 2020

12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

Check In + Introductions

Meet in the lobby of the Cambria Hotel Phoenix – Downtown. Quick introductions then walk to APS and security check.

1:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Tour of the Marketing & Trading Floor
Speaker(s): Brad Albert, Vice President, Resource Management, Arizona Public Service Company, Kent Walter, Manager of Resource Operations, Arizona Public Service Company

Tour of the Marketing & Trading Floor at APS Headquarters. Wear comfortable shoes and dress business casual. No PPE required.

6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Student Networking Dinners

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

8:00 AM - 8:30 AM

Breakfast at APS

8:30 AM - 9:00 AM

Welcome to Business Acumen for Emerging Leaders
Speaker(s): Neal Pobran, Senior Manager, Community and Indigenous Relations, FortisBC

Neal Pobran of FortisBC, the 2020 Challenge Cohort Facilitator will provide an introduction to the program and describe the goals of the Business Acumen for Emerging Leaders program.

9:00 AM - 9:30 AM

Executive and Alumni Mentor Introductions

Executive and Alumni Mentors will give a short self-introduction.

9:30 AM - 9:45 AM

Introduction to APS
Speaker(s): Jennifer Cannon, Manager Customer Construction, Arizona Public Service Company

9:45 AM - 10:00 AM


10:00 AM - 10:20 AM

Welcome to Arizona Public Services
Speaker(s): Daniel Froetscher, President and Chief Operating Officer, Arizona Public Service Company

President and Chief Operating Officer of Arizona Public Services welcomes the cohort to APS and shares some of his leadership insights and experiences.

10:20 AM - 11:00 AM

Student Introductions

Students will give a short self-introduction and then hand off to one of their peers that they interviewed.

11:30 AM - 12:30 PM


12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

Leading Through Change
Speaker(s): Randy Gabe, Vice President, Gas Resources, Southwest Gas Corporation

1:30 PM - 2:30 PM

Leadership Exercise
Speaker(s): Nikki Gibbon, Training Program Manager - Leadership Development, Arizona Public Service Company, Nikki Clinch, Instructional Design Facilitator, Arizona Public Service Company

2:30 PM - 2:45 PM


2:45 PM - 4:00 PM

Strengths Based Leadership Exercise and Discussion
Speaker(s): Barbara Arms, Manager Talent Management, Arizona Public Service Company

4:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Networking Tips & Refresher
Speaker(s): Neal Pobran, Senior Manager, Community and Indigenous Relations, FortisBC

5:00 PM - 6:30 PM

WEI BAEL Program Reception for Students, Hosts, and Special Guests

Location: Cambria Hotel Phoenix – Downtown
Masai Boardroom
222 E. Portland Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

8:30 AM - 9:00 AM

Breakfast at APS

9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Leading High Performing Teams
Speaker(s): Pat Dinkel, Vice President, Strategy, Arizona Public Service Company

10:00 AM - 10:15 AM


10:15 AM - 11:15 AM

Leading a Diverse Workforce
Speaker(s): Carmen Jandecek, Total Rewards, HR Services, Arizona Public Service Company

11:15 AM - 12:00 PM

Current Issues Assignment
Speaker(s): Neal Pobran, Senior Manager, Community and Indigenous Relations, FortisBC

WEI will introduce the Capstone Project. Students will share the results of their interviews with Supervisors and Board Members, specifically the current issues are facing their organizations and business function.

12:00 PM - 12:30 PM


12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

Team Building Execise
Facilitator(s): Neal Pobran, Senior Manager, Community and Indigenous Relations, FortisBC

Teams of capstone project groups will work through a Plane Crash resources exercise as they develop team-building skills in a diverse work group.

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Capstone Project Group Time
Facilitator(s): Neal Pobran, Senior Manager, Community and Indigenous Relations, FortisBC

WEI will provide a handout for groups to fill out to brainstorm topics and set up group work plan.

2:45 PM - 3:00 PM

Session Close and Introduction to the Elevator Speech
Speaker(s): Neal Pobran, Senior Manager, Community and Indigenous Relations, FortisBC

Throughout the program, you will have several opportunities to mix and mingle with executives and key leaders from host utilities. A polished elevator speech provides you an opportunity to make a great first impression and share a little bit about yourself and your organization with folks you meet. Use the time in this session to develop your Elevator Speech. Alumni Mentors will provide their examples and share their own tips on effective elevator speeches. In future sessions you will present your elevator speech to your fellow students.

Hotel + Travel

  • Reservation Instructions
  • Please contact the hotel directly at (602) 675-3500 to reserve your room. Identify yourself as being with WEI Business Acumen for Emerging Leaders to receive a special rate of $229 USD/night. This rate is guaranteed until February 7, 2020 or until the WEI room block is full. The hotel is sold out on Sunday, February 23 so please make your reservations starting Monday, February 24.

Meet The Speakers

Daniel Froetscher

Arizona Public Service Company

President and Chief Operating Officer
Learn More

Daniel Froetscher is president and chief operating officer for Arizona Public Service Company (APS). Based in Phoenix, APS is Arizona’s largest electric company and serves nearly 1.3 million customers across the state.

Froetscher oversees the company’s operations for customer service, transmission, distribution, non-nuclear generation, resource management, environmental, supply chain, external communications and corporate development.

An APS employee since 1980, Froetscher has developed broad experience in a variety of customer service and energy generation and delivery leadership positions. Before assuming his current role, he was executive vice president of operations. Froetscher has also served as senior vice president, transmission, distribution and customers and has been a company officer since 2009. In his various leadership roles, Froetscher has dedicated his efforts across the state, in both Phoenix and rural Arizona.

Froetscher is active in numerous community endeavors and currently serves on the board of the Valley of the Sun United Way. He is a past board member and chairman of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, and has been involved with organizations focused on health care, education and economic development throughout his APS career.

Froetscher earned a Bachelor of Applied Sciences degree in Public Agency Service and Bachelor of Arts degree in Enterprise in Society from Northern Arizona University. He also attended the Stanford Executive Program. Froetscher is married with three children and six grandchildren.

Neal Pobran


Senior Manager, Community and Indigenous Relations

Randy Gabe

Southwest Gas Corporation

Vice President, Gas Resources

Nikki Gibbon

Arizona Public Service Company

Training Program Manager - Leadership Development

Nikki Clinch

Arizona Public Service Company

Instructional Design Facilitator

Barbara Arms

Arizona Public Service Company

Manager Talent Management

Patrick Dinkel

Arizona Public Service Company

Vice President, Strategy

Jennifer Cannon

Arizona Public Service Company

Manager Customer Construction

Bradley Albert

Arizona Public Service Company

Vice President, Resource Management

Kent Walter

Arizona Public Service Company

Manager of Resource Operations