Chief Information Officer – Cancelled (Mar 08-09)

This program has been cancelled. If you have any questions, please contact the event planner directly.

General Details

  • Program Chair(s)
  • Jim Downing, VP and Chief Information Officer, NW Natural

    • Program Location
    • Hilton Portland Downtown
    • 921 SW 6th Ave
      Portland, OR 97204
    • Who Should Attend
    • Participation in the Chief Information Officer executive forum is restricted to senior leaders responsible for management of their utility’s technology and information systems. In most instances, the appropriate attendee serves as the Chief Information Officer or holds an equal position within their utility. The small size of this program provides a unique environment for collaborative thinking, open discourse and building long-term relationships.

  • Registration Options
  • Member: $499 USD

    Registration includes all program materials, a networking reception on Sunday evening, and a catered breakfast and lunch on Monday. Guest tickets are available for $90 and allow a personal guest (a spouse or partner who does not work in the energy industry) to accompany a registered attendee at the event. Guest registration includes all meals and receptions, and all program materials.

  • General Cancellation Policy
  • Due to contractual obligations, cancellations received 15 business days prior to the program will receive a full refund. Cancellations received 6 to 14 business days prior to the event will receive a refund, less a $100 administrative fee. No shows and last minute cancellations, 5 business days prior to the event or less, will be responsible for the full registration fee. Substitutions from your organization for the same event are always welcome.
  • 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 Amy Nye, Program Manager at (503) 688-2794.


Sunday, March 8, 2020

5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Networking Reception

Join us for a WEI hosted networking reception at Q Restaurant & Bar, 828 SW 2nd Avenue, Portland, OR 97204. Dinner is on your own.

Monday, March 9, 2020

7:30 AM - 8:00 AM

Registration + Networking Breakfast

Arrive early to register and network with peers over breakfast.

8:00 AM - 9:30 AM

Welcome + Introductions
Facilitator(s): Jim Downing, Chief Information Officer, NW Natural

Come prepared to share insights from your latest initiatives as part of our round robin introductions.

9:30 AM - 9:45 AM

Networking Break

9:45 AM - 10:45 AM

Utility Industry Trends: Finding Techquilibrium During Energy Transition
Speaker(s): Zarko Sumic, Vice President and Distinguished Analyst, Gartner

The global utility sector continues to face a variety of challenges. The clash of two opposing forces – increased global demand for energy and water and consequent environmental implications – are creating global disruption across every industry and in particular utilities. The pressure to maintain physical integrity and modernize aging infrastructure under changing climate conditions and consumption/production patterns persists, while technology driven disruption at the grid edge continues to challenge existing business models. The confluence of these factors, manifested as 4D forces (decarbonization, decentralization, decarbonization and democratization) are in the same time drivers and indicators of the energy transition, a structural changes in energy provisioning systems.

Gartner will explore forces behind the energy transition and offer utility leaders an overview of global business and technology trends in the sector to benchmark and align their focus against. The briefings will also provide a framework to establish the right digital ambition and consequence techquilibrium. Techquilibrium is the right mix of investments in capabilities to optimize the traditional utility business and investments in capabilities to pursue new digital business opportunities.

10:45 AM - 11:00 AM

Networking Break

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

ERP Planning + Implementation
Speaker(s): Jim Downing, Chief Information Officer, NW Natural, Dina Thompson, Director, Enterprise Applications, NW Natural

12:00 PM - 12:45 PM

Networking Lunch

Enjoy a catered lunch onsite.

12:45 PM - 1:45 PM

Data Analytics
Speaker(s): Joe Tellez, Chief Technology Officer, Tacoma Power

Over the last two years, Tacoma Public Utilities (TPU) has been on an exciting journey of cloud-based data analytics using Amazon Web Services, Databricks, and Tableau. In this session, Joe Tellez will share their lessons-learned, benefits, drawbacks, and areas to watch out for related to cloud security and training.

1:45 PM - 2:00 PM

Networking Break

2:00 PM - 2:45 PM

IT Organizational Design

This time is designated for attendees to compare and contrast IT organizational design. Come prepared to discuss your department's structure, reporting chain, key internal partners, and staff size. If you are willing to share your IT org chart in advance of the meeting, please email it to Amy Nye at

2:45 PM - 3:00 PM

Networking Break

3:00 PM - 3:45 PM

Open Roundtable Discussion
Facilitator(s): Jim Downing, Chief Information Officer, NW Natural

This session provides time for attendees to address topics not on the agenda, elaborate upon previous discussions, or gather ideas and feedback from peers.

3:45 PM - 4:00 PM

Wrap Up + Future Planning

Share your thoughts on the forum as we turn our sights toward the Fall program in Seattle, Washington on September 15 + 16, 2020. 

Hotel + Travel

  • Reservation Instructions
  • Please contact the hotel directly at (503) 226-1611 or use the link above to reserve your room. Identify yourself as being with the WEI Customer + Corporate Symposium to receive a special rate of $169 USD/night. This rate is guaranteed until February 23, 2020 or until the WEI room block is full.

Meet The Speakers

Jim Downing

NW Natural

Chief Information Officer
Learn More

Mr. Downing is the Company’s Vice President and Chief Information Officer. Prior to joining NW Natural in September 2017, Mr. Downing was Chief Information Officer for the America’s division of WorleyParsons, an Australia-based engineering firm that provides services to the resources and energy sector around the world. Before working for WorleyParsons, Mr. Downing worked at British Petroleum (BP) for over 9 years, holding executive positions from 2008 to 2015. He has also previously worked with Schlumberger, the largest provider of technology services to the oil and gas industry.

Mr. Downing has a BS in Information Systems and an Executive MBA from Tulane University.

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.

Dina Thompson

NW Natural

Director, Enterprise Applications

Zarko Sumic


Vice President and Distinguished Analyst
Learn More

Zarko Sumic, Ph.D., is a Vice President and Distinguished Analyst in Gartner, where he provides innovative strategic and operational advice to Gartner utility clients using his extensive IT leadership and business experience. With more than 40 years of IT experience in academia, the energy utility industry and technology providers, Dr. Sumic is an established leader in applying IT and OT in the utility sector. His coverage areas include new energy provisioning business models and digital transformation of the utility sector, the impact of IoT on technology convergence in the utility sector, and consequent implications on utility IT organizations and application portfolios. Dr. Sumic leads Gartner Smart Grid research, covering technologies and business processes with implications on utility infrastructure modernization, customer engagements and back-end processes, such as meter-to-cash.