The annual Distributech conference begins in just three weeks. D-Tech is a conference dedicated to the utility market; attracting the largest players in T&D equipment. As I reviewed the exhibitor list, I was struck by the sheer number of exhibitors that are primarily software companies. While the big guys in T&D equipment are there in force (ABB, Schneider, Eaton, GE, Hubbell, S&C, G&W, etc.) the preponderance of the booths are directly based upon technology.

The utility industry is changing rapidly. Alternative energies are altering the balance of power generation and impacting the IOU regulatory market with the rush of ‘off-grid’ or reduced grid installations. Solar and wind power construction has grown exponentially and with the now long term governmental incentives in place, the uncertainty in investment in both solar and wind has largely been removed which will spur greater growth. While alternative generation is a huge benefit to the United States (reduced reliance on foreign energy sources, reduction in fossil fuel burning, reduced pollution, reduced global warming, etc. etc.) the near-term transition of rapid adoption of new energy sources is fraught with issues of great concern to the utility industry at large.

Homeowners buying solar rooftop systems slowly diminish the revenue provided to the IOU’s. The logical move would be for the IOU community to endorse solar as a provided power solution and in essence ‘own’ that market; i.e. assess and install solar and wind power production throughout the customer base of each IOU. The IOU could feasibly install and maintain every solar location (wind has limited commercial or industrial use) and build the installation and maintenance charges into the monthly power rate structure. Bu the challenge of revenues still remains… when the solar installation is in place, there is little to no ‘energy delivery’ service by the IOU to the customer. In short, the IOU becomes a rooftop installation service with little opportunity to do what they’ve done for generations; sell power. And the legacy investments of overhead and underground power delivery systems will remain, with diminishing returns on that investment as the power requirements on that system will lessen with time as the growth in distributed power systems increases.

And, Utility generation is heavily regulated. Their ability to get rate increases is challenged. At the same time, IOU’s face significant financial threats across a variety of issues: Security; Distributed power generation (micro-grids, alternative energy solutions); Coal power regulation (and ultimate elimination); DC power distribution. All add to the regulatory and rate pressures.  And then there’s technology.

Power generation is far more software dependent than at any time in its history. From security issues, demand management, energy management, smart grid, smart metering, control systems, maintenance monitoring, asset management, power quality monitoring, financial analysis and on to… big data analytics. The issues in Energy mirror the changes in the overall electrical industry… we have moved into smart systems and software communicating with myriad sensor and control systems such that the basics of manufacturing, installing and maintaining the core products of electrical systems has created a requirement for talent that transcends those basic functions.

The explosion of ‘smart’ energy companies in the past 10 years is unprecedented. The sheer task of assessing new technologies and determining the reliability and functionality of each of those systems challenges every purchasing, engineering or IT department. And yet, we have entered a period in history where that previously ‘very small’ percentage of malevolent people has now grown to an absolute number of individuals where we need to devote far more of our time on protection of assets; whether that’s our personal financial information or the large physical assets of our power generation system. Our successes in software and the attendant rise in productivity has now yielded a concomitant response to require additional software and physical protection measures to limit access to those productivity systems of the past.

The utility industry faces continual threats to their companies. They are a vital part of the infrastructure; highly visible and inherently symbolic of a country’s success and stature, and a notable target for every mal-adjusted social deviant. Technology growth has challenged the utility industry more than the electrical industry at large, with the competitive pressures of security, alternative energy and distributed generation.

Each of those challenges require specialized talent expertise that is hard to find, expensive and essential to the success and financial growth of the utility. The US economy is growing, the unemployment rate is under 5%, the unemployment rate for college-educated talent is now 2.2% and the retirement of the Baby Boomers is accelerating; all leading to a confluence of a rapid drain of legacy talent and a candidate driven market.

In short, the Utility industry is facing increasing costs to their business. Their business model is changing rapidly with a significant potential loss of revenue if they don’t take control of the alternative power generation market. All of those threats exist in a business that is publicly regulated by consumers who want lower energy costs and are unaware of the true hidden costs of security and software requirements to ensure a safe and uninterrupted delivery of power. DTech should provide significant insights into the health of the industry and approaches to solving their challenges.


Ted Konnerth, PhD

Ted Konnerth, Egret Consulting Group’s founder and CEO, recruits on a retained basis, helping leaders in the electrical and lighting industry identify their next C and V-level hire. He is also the executive director for the International Retained Search Associates, allowing him to liaise with skilled recruiters around the globe. To learn more about how Ted can help your company attract talent view his biography, check him out on LinkedIn or email him at tk@egretconsulting.com.

By |January 21st, 2016|Industry Commentary, Industry Events, Industry News, Newsletter|0 Comments


By Ted Konnerth

Recruiters are a diverse lot. There are some bad recruiters just as there are bad cops, bad priests, bad teachers and bad doctors. But a few bad people shouldn’t besmirch an entire profession. Recruiting is perceived as an easy-entry business, with very low barriers to entry and potential high earnings, so it attracts a breadth of people; mostly good people.

At a recent gathering of global search firm owners, I was struck by a comment that one owner made… that he recruits generous people as his recruiters. Of all of the skills that high performing recruiters require; intellect, tenacity, empathy and resilience, ‘generosity’ struck a chord for me. The one thing about recruiting that has always interested me is the ability to help people. There is nothing negative about what we do; despite being painted by a broad brush; poisoned by some bad practitioners.

Recruiting has 2 impacts; help our clients attract employees and leaders who will help the company grow and prosper and help qualified and talented people expand their careers. Our services have to be conducted with absolute confidentiality and the utmost professionalism. And then there’s generous.

According to Wharton Professor Adam Grant, ‘Givers’ are the most likely people to succeed. In his book “Give and Take – A revolutionary Approach to Success” he argues that true Givers who help others unconditionally are predictably more successful than Matchers, who only help others who have helped them or Takers who ask for help but rarely offer help*.

In evolutionary theory, altruism is a rarely demonstrated trait in the natural world. In the most extreme example, you can’t pass along your genes to the next generation if you lose your life helping others, so it’s a rare occurrence that animals behave with true altruism; including humans. True altruists tend to be deeply faithful people; Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Buddha, etc. but then there are Givers who rise to extreme generosity; e.g. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and the other billionaires they’ve recruited to pledge to give away their fortunes to their charity of choice. Generosity carries forward powerful benefits to the Giver. Seeing the benefits of your wealth distributed across philanthropic endeavors around the world, is very rewarding.

Successful recruiters tend to have the shared philosophy of recruiting for the giver aspects of our trade; not strictly ‘for the money’. We regularly receive calls or letters or thank you cards from people we’ve helped to better their lives. Those responses are still a thrill to receive. And it’s a thrill to us, because we are inherently generous. We’re generous with our time with candidates we can’t help, or clients who need our expertise to figure out what they need to help them grow. Our approach has always been consultative, not transactional. We help our clients and candidates; often without expecting compensation for our time.

As we enter that time of the year to reflect on the good fortunes we’ve found and in light of the terrible and terrifying events of the world, we give thanks: to our clients, our candidates, our friends and our loved ones. And we contribute to our personal charities as a show of generosity; because we are so thankful… and we care.



By |December 18th, 2015|Industry Commentary, Industry News, Newsletter|0 Comments