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MIPSYCON Milestones

Last week I attended the Minnesota Power Systems Conference (MIPSYCON) in Minneapolis. Two significant milestones happened during the conference.

  • Milestone #1: MIPSYCON celebrated its 50th anniversary
  • Milestone #2: I turned 60

I am not the first person to have turned 60. I will not be the last. For some reason this birthday seems to hit a little harder than previous ones. Yet, it is just a number. I was able to celebrate it with about 750 of my closest utility friends. It was a good day. It is also better to be seen than “viewed.”

This might explain more frequent bouts with the, “Where did I put the…” and, “Why did I come into this room?” questions. As comedian Bill Murray so aptly summarized it, “Not only is my short-term memory horrible, but so is my short-term memory.”

MIPSYCON-presenting-112014Before I forget what happened, I want to share about MIPSYCON.

The University of Minnesota has sponsored this Upper Midwest conference for the past fifty years. This is a remarkable achievement. Not only has it survived for 50 years, it is thriving. Approximately 750 people attended, and it has outgrown the current host site. These are good, vital signs for any conference.

I have experienced the good fortune to serve on a conference steering committee. As a result, I understand the challenges behind a long, successful run for a conference.

Chuck Healy of ElectroTech, Inc., is on the MIPSYCON planning committee. He was gracious enough to visit with me and share his thoughts about the conference and the electric utility industry in general. Here are the highlights.

Q: Can you provide a brief overview of your career in this industry?
I have a business and psychology degree from Gustavus Adolphus College. Two years after college, I joined the manufacturers rep business started by my grandfather, eventually buying it from my father and growing it over the years. Not being an engineer, I’m proud to hear clients say, “I thought you were an engineer!”

Q: How did you get involved with the planning committee?
By having good relationships and a successful track record within the industry, which lead to being asked to participate and bring the supplier perspective to the committee.

Q: How has MIPSYCON provided value to your career?

By broadening relationships within the industry, whether these associations were customers or not. It provides deeper understanding and perspective of the industry.

Q: What value have you gained from serving on the planning committee?
Expanding relationships within the industry, along with providing opportunities to speak and have influence by leading a successful conference.

Q: In your opinion, what has contributed to MIPSYCON’s growth and success?
Mandatory continuing education requirements over the years is a big factor. They also provide, non-commercial, relevant, value-add content. MIPSCYCON also enjoys strong support from the regional utilities.

Q: What changes have you seen in the utility business?
Technological advances. Growth of busy schedules and the challenge of face-to-face meeting opportunities. Face-to-face meetings are being replaced by emails, phone calls, etc. Increased mobility for younger professionals in the industry. Experienced professionals are increasingly leaving the industry to retirements.

Substation-lab-blogQ: How can MIPSYCON help the industry deal with the aging workforce?
Very talented people are coming into the industry. They fear nothing and are up to the challenges, but they initially lack practical experience. MIPSYCON can help pass on the critical ‘lessons-learned’ to the newer professionals.

Q: What advice would you give to the younger professionals entering this industry?

The job doesn’t owe you anything. Work hard and earn the right to advance. Don’t expect to be directly managed. Take charge of your own personal development – have a growth plan. Figure out the work/life balance. Be goal-oriented and find mentors to help you along the way.

My thanks to Chuck for sharing his thoughts!

I need to stop. I just remembered I need to write a blog about MIPSYCON.

About the author

Marlon is our account executive in the Power market. He has more than 35 years of experience with all aspects of planning, design and construction of 12.5 kV-345 kV distribution and transmission systems, including right-of-way, design, regulatory coordination, public information meetings, public testimony and project management. With an extensive background in power transmission and distribution, Marlon brings a wide variety of knowledge in discussing the energy industry and the issues it faces. From education of future engineers to critical infrastructure analysis, he offers a unique perspective on the industry and where it's headed.