“I wanted to evolve within the company …”

By Ellen Cooke

“I wanted to evolve within the company and learn something from our wonderful engineers. Seeing them in action – the responsibilities and workload they handle to get the job done – inspired me to succeed.”

“I wanted to know more about Finance. Now I understand where the money comes from to do our jobs safely, and why there are sometimes budget constraints. This is information I want to share with my coworkers.”

“It helped me better understand the capabilities outside of our direct work group; also about why we make certain decisions about the way we do our jobs and use our equipment.”

Power Plant Operations (PPO) workers Karen Adams, Doug Kunz and Alayne Spence (respectively) are talking about PPO’s Leadership Development Program (LDP) – a 12-month training opportunity aimed at developing high-potential bargaining unit employees into future leaders. These three were among 12 employees to graduate from the program last month, and among the nearly 60 who have participated since it began in 2006.

PPO-class-2The graduates now have the potential opportunity to move into management positions (like first-line supervisors) or assume union leadership positions (like shop stewards or foreman trainees), as many LDP participants have done before them.

First-line Supervisor and LDP founder Lenny Ciaccio started at the company in 1978 and moved from union to management in 1989. “I left work on a Friday afternoon as a union worker and came back Monday morning as a management employee. It was tough at the beginning. I wanted to make that leap easier for others by giving them training and exposure to other areas of the company … and I’m overjoyed with the continuing success of the program!”

“We’re investing in our people,” says Electric Support & Services Director (and LDP mentor) Art Olsen. “We’re giving them a taste of what it’s like to be a manager and giving them a little more confidence to pursue it if they choose. What we get in return is ‘homegrown’ talent in management who understand the business and the issues we deal with every day.”

The Leadership Development Program includes skills and computer training, a three-day course on how to be an effective leader, the opportunity to shadow workers in different parts of the business, ‘field trips’ to our vendors, and one large group project the team presents whey they complete the program. The 2015/16 group’s project was a comprehensive ‘National Grid On Call Engineer’s Handbook’ for employees, covering everything from emergency response procedures to the types of workers needed for various repair jobs at the power plants.

Each participant is also assigned a mentor. Generation Materials Manager and mentor
Ronnie Donato says, “We’re trying to teach the work force what managers go through every day and let them see what the rest of the company does. I try to teach as much as I can, about all areas of the company.”

Karen Adams’ mentor Shelly Gonsalves (EF Barrett Outage Manager) says, “Karen’s such a nice person, I wanted to help her be the best that she can be. I’ve seen her evolve and I’ve worked to help her get out of her shell. As a leader, I always want to motivate people, and give something back by sharing my experiences.”

EF Barrett Payroll Clerk Krystal Charles is one of the incoming 10-member class of 2016/17. She can’t wait to learn more about potential new opportunities at the company: “This is such a great opportunity for me to go different places, see the operations side and other areas of the business.”

And Northport Maintenance Manager/current LDP Committee Chairman Bryon Knoth says the program is all about developing employees like Krystal: “We want them to have the opportunity to become supervisors but, more importantly, we’re looking to develop strong leaders, at all levels and in all parts of our business.”

Power Plant Operations class

Back Row (l-r): Jim Reardon, Joe Navratil, Dan Langhorn, Karen Adams, Anthony Rooney, Anthony Gagliardi, Joe Ambrosio, Alayne Spence, Bill Neider and Jim McGovern
Front Row (l-r): Steve Morea and Doug Kunz

Click here for short video conversations with Karen Adams, Doug Kunz and Shelly Gonsalves

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *