Business Acumen for Emerging Leaders: Challenge (Jun 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 Chair(s)
  • Anna Scarlett, Director of Shared Services, Avista

    • Program Location
    • Tacoma Public Utilities
    • 3628 S. 35th Street Tacoma, Washington 98409
    • 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 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 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.


Monday, June 24, 2019

9:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Optional Capstone Project Work Time

12:30 PM - 1:00 PM

Registration and Check-In

1:00 PM - 1:15 PM

Welcome to Session Three
Speaker(s): Anna Scarlett, Director, Shared Services, Avista Utilities

1:15 PM - 2:15 PM

Welcome to Tacoma Public Utilities
Speaker(s): Chris Robinson, Chris Mattson, Generation Manager, Tacoma Public Utilities

2:15 PM - 2:30 PM


2:30 PM - 4:00 PM

Digital Transformation for Utilities: A Customer and Workforce Perspective
Speaker(s): Joe Tellez, Chief Technology Officer, Tacoma Power

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Peer Roundtable Discussions

The group will beak in to four tables for peer to peer roundtable discussions. Students should bring issues/best practices/questions to address with their fellow students in these areas. The point is to get feedback and perspective on how other companies approach your issue 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 - 5:00 PM

Return to Hotel

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

7:30 AM - 8:00 AM

Breakfast at Host Utility

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

Internal and External Communications Strategy
Speaker(s): Dan Drennan, Manager, Market Development, Tacoma Public Utilities, Rebekah Anderson, Communications Manager, Tacoma Public Utilities

9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Market Research & Segmentation
Speaker(s): Dan Drennan, Manager, Market Development, Tacoma Public Utilities

10:00 AM - 10:30 AM


10:30 AM - 11:30 AM

Customer Experience/Perspective & Analytics
Speaker(s): Steve Hatcher, Customer Services Manager, Tacoma Power

11:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Business Acumen Homework Discussion
Facilitator(s): Anna Scarlett, Director, Shared Services, Avista Utilities

12:30 PM - 1:15 PM


1:15 PM - 4:00 PM

A Trio of Tours

Split into three groups to rotate through tours of the Power Trading Floor, Power Warehouse, and Energy Control Center.

4:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Wrap Up
Speaker(s): Anna Scarlett, Director, Shared Services, Avista Utilities

5:30 PM - 7:00 PM

WEI BAEL Program Reception for Students, Hosts and Special Guests

The Gallery
Hotel Murano
1320 Broadway Plaza
Tacoma, WA

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

7:30 AM - 8:00 AM

Breakfast at Host Utility

8:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Leadership Presence Workshop
Speaker(s): Seka Ojdrovic-Phillips, Associate, The Humphrey Group

12:00 PM - 12:30 PM


12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

Alumni Mentor panel
Facilitator(s): Anna Scarlett, Director, Shared Services, Avista Utilities

1:30 PM - 2:00 PM

Wrap Up and Debrief

2:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Optional Capstone Project Work Time

Hotel + Travel

  • Hotel Murano
  • 1320 Broadway Plaza
  • Tacoma, Washington 98402
  • Phone: (888) 862-3255

  • Click here to make your reservation now.
  • Reservation Instructions
  • Please contact the hotel directly at (877) 986-8083 to reserve your room. Identify yourself as being with Western Energy Institute (WEI) Business Acumen for Emerging Leaders to receive a special rate of $169 USD/night. This rate is guaranteed until June 3, 2019 or until the WEI room block is full.

Meet The Speakers

Joe Tellez

Tacoma Power

Chief Technology Officer
Learn More

Joe is a technology executive with over 25 years of information technology management experience spanning the gas, electric, and water utilities industry. Joe is a seasoned technology strategist with strong experience in systems integration, technology strategy & planning, enterprise architecture, technology implementation and organizational governance. Previously, Joe was an executive consultant with Utility Integration Solutions (an Alstom Grid Co.) where he lead their Integration and Architecture practice working on a variety of Smart Grid initiatives with several large investor owned and municipality utilities. Prior to UISOL/Alstom, Joe worked for Sempra Energy Utilities leading their Smart Grid integration efforts for electric and gas AMI, customer services and billing, distribution management and field force automation initiatives. Joe holds a B.S. degree in Industrial & Systems Engineering and a M.S. degree in Systems Architecture & Engineering both from the University of Southern California and is a TOGAF certified IT Architect.

Daniel Drennan

Tacoma Public Utilities

Manager, Market Development
Learn More

Dan is a utility executive with 20 years of marketing management experience with electric, water, and natural gas utilities in both investor-owned and municipal environments. He is regularly sought as a foundational element in utility strategy discussions, and focuses on enhancing customer experience and stakeholder management. Dan oversees market research, program development, key accounts, economic development and customer analytics for Tacoma Public Utilities. Prior to joining TPU in 2013, Dan oversaw market strategy as well as energy efficiency programs, renewable energy programs, remittance & billing, program development, market communications, market research and stakeholder management for PNM Resources. He holds a BA in political science and political economy from Washington University in St. Louis, and a MBA with marketing and operations science concentrations from the Anderson School of Business.

Steve Hatcher

Tacoma Power

Customer Services Manager
Learn More

Steve Hatcher has served as Tacoma Public Utilities Customer Services manager since 2006. He is responsible for front-line customer service, call center and field investigation operations, credit and collections/billing, meter reading, and low-income assistance programs. Steve has prior experience as a city administrator and is a retired military officer with 20 years of active duty service in the United States Army. He is a member of the American Association of Blacks in Energy, the Pierce County Black Collective and he serves as a member on numerous local non-profit and regional Customer Services executive councils and boards.

Jacqueline Flowers

Tacoma Public Utilities


Anna Scarlett

Avista Utilities

Director, Shared Services

Seka Ojdrovic-Phillips

The Humphrey Group


Rebekah Anderson

Tacoma Public Utilities

Communications Manager
Learn More

Rebekah heads up the Communications group within Tacoma Public Utilities’ Public Affairs and Communications Department. She oversees a team of eleven to deliver internal and external communications and marketing plans for divisions, programs, and initiatives at the utility. Prior to coming to TPU, Rebekah worked in Puget Sound Energy’s communications department for seven years.

Chris Mattson

Tacoma Public Utilities

Generation Manager
Learn More

Chris manages the Generation business unit at Tacoma Power and is a member of the utility’s senior leadership. His team operates and maintains over $700M in renewable hydro power assets and fisheries. After beginning his career in aerospace, Chris has spent 24 years in the utility industry at Tacoma Power both in engineering and leadership. Chris holds a Master’s in Electrical Engineering from the University of Washington with a focus on power market economics.