“To me this is one of my favorite conferences. You get to sit with water leaders from across the nation in a relaxed place and be inspired. It’s not to be missed.” – Karen Kubik, WEF Board member
The WEF-AWWA Annual Utility Management Conference is coming to San Diego this year. North America’s top water managers will gather for a week of networking and sharing updates about the challenges and breakthroughs their agencies are experiencing. The national meeting is timely as our sector faces rapid change and challenges on many fronts – drought, financial, aging infrastructure and an aging workforce.
Why attend a national gathering of water managers? We asked Karen Kubick, PE, for her view of the meeting. Karen is a long-time WEF leader and the Wastewater Enterprise Capital Program Director for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.
- Why is a national utility managers conference important for California water professionals?
To me this is one of my favorite conferences – meeting people from across the nation and from different agencies. Plus they bring their entire team – the General Manager along with the leaders of operations, communications, finance, and capital improvements.
This is also a smaller conference so you get a chance to meet folks one-on-one and see their passion. It’s simply a great way to connect peer-to-peer.
The Utility Management Conference gives our entire water team an opportunity to attend something together and to build team spirit. Our team also gets to meet with management teams from other cities, which is rare, and see them face-to-face, sit down with them in a relaxed setting and be inspired.
I really enjoy the panel discussions where the GM and leadership team from one agency is up on stage speaking. I like to see how they interact and to compare their operations with ours. You get so many different styles and the talks are so creative and fun. I still remember a talk by Cheryl Davis (SFPUC) who included a samba in her presentation about management styles.
- Who should attend the Utility Management Conference?
This is a unique opportunity to hear how an agency works with their customers and hear viewpoints from across their agency. It’s a great one for GMs, CFOs, Communication leaders, Project Directors or anyone involved in workforce planning.
This is also a unique conference in the water sector – it is jointly hosted by WEF and AWWA so you get to hear the perspective of drinking water leaders as well.
For California water leaders this is a chance to learn from DC, Philadelphia, Chicago and the other cities who come together from many parts of the country. You get to hear how they run their system, how they plan, plus how they’re preparing to become a utility of the future.
- Which Utility Management Conference session do you most look forward to?
The utility leader forums are marvelous. We get speakers from across the nation and we talk about innovation and technology. There’s time for audience participation and it’s interesting to hear how agencies are tackling issues similar to the ones we face. It’s a very comfortable environment as well, a great opportunity for discussion. Not to be missed.