We’ve had our ups and downs. You know how it is with family. We fight. We squabble. We say what we wish we hadn’t said. We don’t say what we wish we would have said. We all have relatives with that innate ability to get under the skin. We would prefer not to care, but darn it, we do. But then, when we find ourselves in a bind, what do you do? We call family.
I lost a really close friend when Shan Nandi died. And I do hold it against him, leaving me, that is. Shan and I were brothers in technology as we both specialized in “thermal ratings.” Every time I saw Shan, I would break into a big grin. Shan fought the same engineering battles at Commonwealth Edison that I fought at Georgia Power. But we weren’t fighting against, we were fighting for. We were fighting to see technical advances take hold in our industry. And for the most part, they did. Shan, you were one class brother in the T&D tribe.
And I lost another really close friend in Doug Stazesky. Doug had survived for several years after being diagnosed with brain cancer, but he was fading. He had the decency to call me, and I was able to go see him a week before he died. I miss you Doug, and I continue to sing “I’m a Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech” in your honor.
I love this industry. I love what we stand for. I love what we deliver. I love how we deliver it. I love that we care about our customers and that we care about each other.
I’m guessing that somewhere along the road, someone reached down and gave you the helping hand that launched you in your career. Mack Martin was the guy who invested in me. Now those of you who know Mack know he is a little crusty, but he is also honest and driven and demanding.
I hated it when Mack came back from his business trips because he would dump all sorts of work on me. But I always had an answer as to why I couldn’t get the work done by the time Mack wanted it, so he started calling me “but but.” Now I know a lot of people in power companies have nicknames worse than mine, but I really hated that nickname. So I decided to do something about it; I decided to “just say yes.” Mack, thanks for a lesson that will last a lifetime. And thank you for the opportunities you provided me to contribute to the writing of IEEE standards.
Now Dave Silver was another real influence in my life. He was a vice president with then General Cable. I was a southern Catholic boy, and Dave was a northern Jewish man. He loved sharing his wisdom, even more than most of us loved hearing it. But he was really sharp. From Dave, I picked up a love for all things underground. I also learned from him that persistence is at the root of overcoming.
I also loved working with so many of the great program and project managers at EPRI. A more quirky batch of folk would be hard to assemble at any one location. The work we did truly changed the future of our industry. Today’s advances in underground cable installation techniques and dynamic overhead line ratings can be attributed to two class project managers: Tom Rodenbaugh and Vito Longo.
I left Georgia Power in my early 40s, the consequence of taking a voluntary severance package. That was the hardest decision I have ever made in my professional life. That was back in 1994 when we looked upon our companies with great loyalty and esteem. In fact, we had even personalized our company by calling it “Uncle George.”
Fortunately, we work in an industry of second chances. As a part of the severance package, Georgia Power paid to have my thoughts remolded at a career counseling company in Atlanta. There my new found cousin (not genetically related) Pat Williams took me on as a project. We jointly discovered that I had one strong management skill — vision — and one strong creative skill — writing.
So when Earl Hazan, an editor at T&D World, called and asked if I would like to be his boss, those words — vision and writing — popped into my brain and a new career was borne.
Arriving with plenty of experiences and contacts, this job at T&D World has proven to be a good fit for me and a perfect venue for maintaining old friends while meeting new members of the power-delivery family.
At 61 years of age, I keep close tabs on lifelong friends Bill Herdegen (Connecticut Light & Power), Jim Greer (Oncor) and Gordon Matthews (Bonneville Power Administration). I have another set of compadres at engineering firms, class guys including Lee Willis, Dale Douglass, Bill Eisenger, John Rector and Mike Beehler. And I also have friends in the making, including Mehrdod Mohseni (Alstom) and Hamid Jaffari (Town of Danvers, Massachusetts); it’s like I already knew them before I met them. And I can’t forget Ellen Krohne who invited me up to Illinois Power to experience one of the first integrated distribution management systems in the country. Ellen knows how to be a friend. She always she takes time to call or write.
If given a choice, we work with people we like and trust. I am so blessed to work in an industry filled with caliber people whom I call family.