Business Acumen for Emerging Leaders: Opportunity (Apr 15-17)

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)
  • Maneet Jain, Manager, Transmission and Distribution Operations, Seattle City Light

    • Program Location
    • Southern California Edison
    • 2244 Walnut Grove Ave. Rosemead, CA 91770
    • 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 2: April 15-17, Southern California Edison, Rosemead, CA
    Session 3: June 24-26, Seattle City Light, Seattle, WA
    Session 4: August 7-9, FortisBC, Vancouver, BC
    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 Christopher Lee, Senior Program Manager at (971) 255-4967.


Monday, April 15, 2019

9:00 AM - 1:30 PM

Optional Capstone Project Work Time

1:30 PM - 2:00 PM

Registration and Check-In

2:00 PM - 2:15 PM

Welcome to Session Two
Facilitator(s): Maneet Jain, Manager, T&D Operations, Seattle City Light

2:15 PM - 3:15 PM

The Broader Issues Facing California Utilities and SCE’s leadership journey
Speaker(s): Ronald O Nichols, President, Southern California Edison, Steve Powell, Sr. Vice President Strategy, Planning & Operational Performance, Southern California Edison

3:15 PM - 3:30 PM


3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Gas and Electric 101 Roundtable Discussions
Facilitator(s): Brandon Besch, Sr Manager, Substation Construction, Southern California Edison, Kyle Stewart, Manager, Energy Risk Control, Analytics & Credit, Puget Sound Energy

4:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Homework Discussion

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

8:15 AM - 9:00 AM

Breakfast at Southern California Edison

9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

How Utilities Make Money
Speaker(s): Tres Petmecky, SVP & CFO, Southern California Edison

10:00 AM - 10:30 AM


10:30 AM - 11:30 AM

Emerging Issues and Priorities for Southern California Edison
Speaker(s): Phil Herrington, SVP Transmission & Distribution, Southern California Edison

11:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Achieving 100% Clean Energy
Speaker(s): Colin Cushnie, VP Power Supply, Southern California Edison

12:30 PM - 1:30 PM


1:30 PM - 2:30 PM

Capstone Project Update
Facilitator(s): Maneet Jain, Manager, T&D Operations, Seattle City Light

2:30 PM - 3:30 PM

Agility in a Changing Industry Landscape
Speaker(s): Gillian Wright, Chief HR & Administrative Officer, Southern California Gas Company

3:30 PM - 3:45 PM


3:45 PM - 4:45 PM

Leadership in a Changing Energy Landscape
Speaker(s): Jimmie Cho, Chief Operating Officer, Southern California Gas Company

5:00 PM - 6:30 PM

WEI BAEL Program Reception for Students, Hosts, and Alumni

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Los Angeles – Rosemead
888 Montebello Blvd.
Rosemead, California 91770

Reception will be held on the 4th floor in the Cypress Room

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

7:30 AM - 8:30 AM

Breakfast at Southern California Edison

8:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Tour of Southern California Edison’s Advanced Technology Labs

12:30 PM - 1:30 PM


1:30 PM - 2:30 PM

Southern California Edison's Digital Transformation
Speaker(s): Todd Inlander, Sr. Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Southern California Edison

2:30 PM - 3:00 PM

Wrap Up and Debrief

3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Optional Capstone Group Time

Hotel + Travel

  • Reservation Instructions
  • Please contact the hotel directly at (323) 722-8800 to reserve your room. Identify yourself as being with Western Energy Institute (WEI) to receive a special rate of $164 USD/night. This rate is guaranteed until March 17, 2019 or until the WEI room block is full.

Meet The Speakers

Ronald O Nichols

Southern California Edison


Maneet Jain

Seattle City Light

Manager, T&D Operations
Learn More

Maneet was born and raised in the Greenlake neighborhood of Seattle. He is a graduate of the University of Washington in Business Management and a proud Seattle City Light employee. Maneet joined Seattle City Light in 2005 with the credit department, and worked his way up to the Customer Care Management team and is now with Transmission and Distribution Operations, where he enjoys working with electrical and civil crews to deliver reliable energy to Seattle City Light customers. In T&D Operations, Maneet manages the Planning and Scheduling Team.

At home, Maneet and his wife Kelly have been married 12 happy years and have two beautiful daughters, Meena and Nyla. Maneet is a die-hard UW Husky fan, and is trying hard to instill the same UW love in his own daughters. In his spare time, he loves coaching Meena’s and Nyla’s basketball teams, enjoying what the beautiful Pacific Northwest has to offer and spending time with his family.

Phil Herrington

Southern California Edison

SVP Transmission & Distribution

Tres Petmecky

Southern California Edison


Colin Cushnie

Southern California Edison

VP Power Supply

Gillian Wright

Southern California Gas Company

Chief HR & Administrative Officer
Learn More

Gillian Wright is senior vice president and chief customer officer for Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas), a Sempra Energy regulated California utility. She is responsible for the SoCalGas customer services operations, customer solutions and gas acquisition organizations.

Previously, as chief human resources, administrative and environmental officer of SoCalGas, Wright oversaw the SoCalGas human resources, fleet, facilities, environmental services, supply management and logistics organizations.

She joined SoCalGas as a regulatory analyst in 1999 and has held increasingly responsible management roles in regulatory affairs and customer service for SoCalGas since then.

Wright is a member of the board of the California State University Foundation, LA Family Housing, Western Energy Institute and Los Angeles Business Council. She is also past chair and a former member of the board for the Energy Solutions Center and a graduate of Leadership California. Wright holds a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Reed College.

Jimmie Cho

Southern California Gas Company

Chief Operating Officer
Learn More

Jimmie Cho is chief operating officer (COO) for Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas), a Sempra Energy regulated California utility. Previously, he was senior vice president of customer service for SoCalGas and gas distribution operations for SoCalGas and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). Before that, Cho held increasingly responsible management roles in the areas of gas transmission and storage operations; engineering and major projects; human resources, diversity and inclusion; customer communications, research and web strategy; safety and emergency services; and customer service field operations. In addition to his tenure with Sempra Energy, he formerly served as director of resource conservation and public outreach at the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, a member agency of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and started his professional career as a project engineer for the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts. Cho serves on the board of directors of the National Utilities Diversity Council. He holds a bachelor’s degree in geology from Brown University and a master’s degree in civil engineering from Stanford University.

Todd Inlander

Southern California Edison

Sr. Vice President and Chief Information Officer
Learn More

Todd Inlander is senior vice president and chief information officer (CIO) for Southern California Edison (SCE), responsible for managing the company’s information technology infrastructure and applications.

He is responsible for a diverse portfolio of technology assets, including the company’s expansive fiber network, support for its SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) Systems, as well as the cybersecurity organization. Inlander is keenly focused on operational excellence, as he seeks to streamline the IT organization and leverage strategic partners to deliver cost-effective technology solutions.

Inlander and his team are focused on delivering a broad array of capabilities, from upgrading and enhancing grid technologies, delivering mobile solutions, enhancing the customer experience through an improved digital experience and increasing the company’s cybersecurity defenses.

Prior to joining SCE, Inlander was vice president and CIO for Edison Mission Group (EMG), at the time a subsidiary of Edison International. In this role, he had responsibility for managing and improving technology capabilities to support the trading, generation and enterprise business requirements.

Before joining EMG in 2008, Inlander served as CIO of the homebuilding subsidiary of Lennar Homes, responsible for delivering technology solutions to support the needs of homebuilding and land operations. He was also senior vice president and CIO for Fleetwood Enterprises, where he drove enterprise resource planning and customer- relationship management initiatives to standardize common applications.

Inlander began his career as an aerospace engineer working for the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

He earned a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from Rutgers University College of Engineering.

Steve Powell

Southern California Edison

Sr. Vice President Strategy, Planning & Operational Performance

Kelly Kalaria

Southern California Edison

Chief of Staff

E.J. Muro

Southern California Edison

Advisor, Office of the CEO

Editha Toms

Southern California Edison

Customer Service – Business Planning

Brandon Besch

Southern California Edison

Sr Manager, Substation Construction
Learn More

Brandon Besch has been with SCE since 2004 when he joined the company as an Electrical Engineer working on substation automation projects. Shortly after joining SCE he participated in an engineering job rotation program that gave him experience in areas such as Transmission and Interconnection Planning, Protection Engineering and ultimately Distribution Field Engineering.

In 2008, Brandon joined the Substation Construction and Maintenance organization as a Construction Project Manager working on a wide variety of capital projects that ranged from new substations, to infrastructure upgrades, to large scale substation expansions and rebuilds.

Starting in 2012 Brandon moved into leadership roles in Substation Construction, initially spending several years managing the Substation Construction Project Management group where his organization was responsible for managing hundreds of SCE’s annual substation construction and infrastructure upgrade projects. In 2016 Brandon transitioned to a new role leading Substation Construction Field Forces, where he was responsible for an organization of 175 craft personnel that perform a wide variety of construction activities on capital projects.

In January 2019 Brandon moved into the role of Principal Manager of Substation Construction where he was responsible for the Construction Management, Field Forces, Material Operations, Start-Up Engineering and Quality Control.

Most recently, Brandon was assigned to a new role in Substation Construction & Maintenance as the Principal Manager of Work Management and Technical Services, where he is responsible for the construction management, strategic planning and performance management for the organization as well as the compliance and maintenance programs and technical support of field operations.

Outside of work Brandon enjoys traveling with his wife, and taking advantage of California’s many outdoor activities like camping, hiking, backpacking, skiing, and surfing.

Kyle Stewart

Puget Sound Energy

Manager, Energy Risk Control, Analytics & Credit