Has it really been six months? Wow!

October 17, 11:56 am

It’s now mid-October and I just finished attending the Region 8 (Rocky Mountain) Technical Conference. I started my job at UTC on April 26. Interestingly, my first trip with UTC was at the annual conference in early May, which was also in Denver. So, the Mile High City bookends, almost to the day, my first six months at UTC. Not sure what that means exactly, but I do know time has flown by and a lot has happened at UTC. While I will do a more in-depth review of what we have been up to in the blog following our November Board of Directors meeting, here is a little preview:

  • developed and finalized the UTC FY 2017 budget
  • drafted a strategic membership plan (to be reviewed at November Board meeting)
  • reviewed conference pricing to ensure prices appropriately reflect member discounts vis-a-vis non-members
  • reviewed internal processes to improve member service
  • reviewed and improved member communication (ongoing)
  • hired outside lobbyists and developed federal advocacy strategy

 

As I have attended regional meetings in the U.S., Canada and Europe, it is absolutely clear our members value UTC. But we need to help them communicate that value internally to their colleagues as well as other potential members in their regions. Hence, the strong focus in 2017 will be on implementing the strategic membership plan once the Board has reviewed and (hopefully) approved it in November. We will be hiring a new association membership expert to work with Karnel Thomas, VP of Meetings and Membership, as well as the rest of the UTC staff, to implement this plan.

Back to a bit of a review of the meetings I have attended, since I last wrote, — EUTC in Frankfurt, a wireless industry meeting in Chicago (where I spoke on a panel), the Region 3 (Southeast) meeting in Roanoke, VA, and Region 8 in Denver. I am going to hold off on discussing Regions 3 and 8 until my next blog because I want to focus some of that discussion on recovery from Hurricane Matthew and how UTC played a targeted role in facilitating communication between DHS and utilities related to the utilities communications networks’ reliability and resilency during and after the disaster. I also want to extend my heartfelt thoughts and prayers to folks in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and parts of Virginia who are suffering the aftermath of this hurricane. Our members in those areas have been, and are still in some cases, working overtime to restore service — and work will be needed for weeks to restore parts of the infrastructure in areas that are still flooded. As these recovery efforts continue, I hope that members use UTC’s platforms, like NetWorks, to post questions or ask for help, if needed. I am certain that the extensive relationships folks have from their participation in UTC have already come into play on a one-on-one basis, and that our members will use those relationships if they haven’t already. One thing I know about utility folks — they are always eager to help their brethren.

‎Having gotten to know some of our colleagues in Europe late last month, I can tell you that they are the same way. One of my big take-aways from the meeting in Frankfurt, Germany, is that we need to better integrate the technical and committee work we are each doing “across the pond” because much of that work is relevant no matter where we are. Enabling better communication between UTC and EUTC members is major focus going forward. While there, the long-time chairman of EUTC, Miguel Sanchez-Fornie of Iberdrola, stepped down, and Dr. Andreas Breuer of innogy (a subsidiary of RWE), took over as chair. The good news is that Miguel will still be involved and championing EUTC, while Andreas will bring his vast technical understanding to the role. I very much look forward to working with EUTC as the group evolves.

On a personal note, I have been away from my family a lot these past six weeks, so promised my daughters that I would bring them some special German dolls from Frankfurt. I recalled that my dad had done the same when he traveled to Germany in the ’70s, so thought that finding such special dolls would be a quick 15 minute jaunt to and from the shopping district by the hotel. ‎I could not have been more wrong!dolls_and-musicboxes

The dolls I was directed to several times were American-made Barbie dolls (ha — my girls certainly do not need more of those)! Eventually (and a good hour into my 15-minute time-limit) a native of Frankfurt told me that this region of Germany wasn’t into “traditional” things like that, but that I might find them at a tourist shop down the road. Thankfully, I did just that — and the dolls were surprisingly inexpensive.
Alas, the music boxes I found on the way were not quite as cheap. Both were appreciated by the girls (phew!) and are pictured here.

Until we meet again…