Business Acumen for Emerging Leaders: Opportunity (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 Chair(s)
  • William Messner, Portland General Electric, Director Safety, Security & Resiliency

    • Program Location
    • Sacramento Municipal Utility District
    • 6201 S. Street Sacramento, CA 95817
    • 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, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Sacramento, CA
    Session 2: April 27-29, Portland General Electric, Portland, OR
    Session 3: June 15-17, ATCO Electric, Edmonton, AB
    Session 4: August 5-7, Southern California Gas Company, 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 Christopher Lee, Senior Program Manager at (971) 255-4967.


Monday, February 24, 2020

1:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Check In + Introductions

Meet at Hyatt Regency
Big Sur Room A

1:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Golden 1 Event Center Tour
Speaker(s): Rob Lechner, Director of Commercial Development, Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Walking tour with a few stops along the way to see some development projects. Bring photo ID. Wear comfortable shoes.

6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Student Networking Dinners

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

7:30 AM - 8:00 AM

Commute to SMUD

Meet in the lobby and board bus

8:00 AM - 8:30 AM

Breakfast at SMUD

8:30 AM - 9:00 AM

Welcome to Business Acumen for Emerging Leaders
Facilitator(s): Bill Messner, Director Safety, Security & Resiliency, Portland General Electric

The 2020 Facilitator will provide an introduction to the program and describe the goals throughout the program. WEI to show the 2020 theme video.

9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Student Introductions

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

10:00 AM - 10:30 AM


10:30 AM - 11:30 AM

Welcome to Sacramento Municipal Utility District
Speaker(s): Arlen Orchard, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Gary King, Chief Workforce Officer, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Paul Lau, Chief Grid Strategy & Operations Officer, Sacramento Municipal Utility District

11:30 AM - 12:30 PM


12:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Strengths Based Leadership Exercise and Discussion
Facilitator(s): Sharon Huntsman, Manager, Learning Development & Culture, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Gabe Lewall, Business Partner, Sacramento Municipal Utility District

2:45 PM - 3:00 PM


3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Executive Speaker - Safety Culture in a Dynamic Environment
Speaker(s): Becky Johnson, Senior Manager, Safety, Pacific Gas and Electric Company

4:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Networking Tips & Refresher

5:00 PM - 6:30 PM

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

Location: Citizen Hotel
Plaza Park Ballroom
926 J St
Sacramento, CA 95814

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

7:30 AM - 8:00 AM

Commute to SMUD

Meet in the lobby and board bus

8:00 AM - 8:30 AM

Breakfast at SMUD

8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Executive Panel - Leading High Performing Teams
Speaker(s): Ross Gould, Director of Power Generation, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Lora Anguay, Director, Distribution Operations & Maintenance, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Carol Nye, Director, IT Projects & Applications, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Jennifer Davidson, Chief Financial Officer, Sacramento Municipal Utility District

10:00 AM - 10:30 AM

Tour of SMUD Headquarters

10:30 AM - 10:45 AM


10:45 AM - 11:15 AM

Current Issues Assignment

Students will share the results of their interviews with Supervisors and Board Members on what the current issues are facing their organizations and business function.

11:15 AM - 12:30 PM

Capstone Project Group Time

WEI will introduce the Capstone Project and teams will begin planning and brainstorming.

12:30 PM - 1:00 PM


1:00 PM - 1:45 PM

Executive Speaker - Leading a Diverse Workforce
Speaker(s): Laurie Rodriguez, Director, Human Resources, Diversity & Inclusion, Sacramento Municipal Utility District

1:45 PM - 2:45 PM

Team Building Execise

With teams in capstone project groups. Plane Crash resources exercise.

2:45 PM - 3:00 PM

Session Close and Introduction to the elevator Speech

Throughout the program, you and your classmates will 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.

Alumni Mentors provide 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

  • Hyatt Regency Sacramento
  • 1209 L Street
  • Sacramento, California 95814
  • Phone: 916-443-1234

  • Click here to make your reservation now.
  • Reservation Instructions
  • Please contact the hotel directly at (800) 233-1234 to reserve your room. Identify yourself as being with Western Energy Institute (WEI) or use the group code “G-WEIG” to receive a special rate of $199 USD/night. This rate is guaranteed until February 3, 2020 or until the WEI room block is full.

Meet The Speakers

Arlen Orchard

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Chief Executive Officer and General Manager

Gary King

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Chief Workforce Officer

Paul Lau

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Chief Grid Strategy & Operations Officer

Sharon Huntsman

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Manager, Learning Development & Culture

Gabe Lewall

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Business Partner

Becky Johnson

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Senior Manager, Safety

Rob Lechner

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Director of Commercial Development

Ross Gould

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Director of Power Generation

Lora Anguay

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Director, Distribution Operations & Maintenance

Carol Nye

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Director, IT Projects & Applications

Jennifer Davidson

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Chief Financial Officer

Laurie Rodriguez

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Director, Human Resources, Diversity & Inclusion

Bill Messner

Portland General Electric

Director Safety, Security & Resiliency