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IESO employees come together for in-house professional development program

By: Kiki Cekota
March 20, 2018
Tom Aagard

Tom Aagaard accepting an award in Feb. 2018 at the AESP National Conference and Expo for "Outstanding Achievement in Non-Residential Program Design and Implementation." Tom is a graduate of the 2015 seminar series.

Did you know that the Centre for Urban Energy offers customized professional development opportunities taught on site by industry experts at your place of work? One such example is the IESO, external link Professional Development Series in Energy, Technology and Policy, which was developed in partnership with the organization’s human resources department. It offers staff members an overview of the energy transition in Ontario and how energy policy and technology come together.

The series has run once a year between September and December since 2014 and is co-taught by Dan McGillivray, Distinguished Visiting Professor, Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science, Ryerson University, and Sean Conway, Honorary Research Fellow, CUE. The course consists of five themes, taught in five half-day sessions:

  • An overview of energy policy and technology
  • Regional planning and social license for energy infrastructure
  • A more detailed look at the energy regulator in today’s market
  • Energy innovation: technology (smart grid) and entrepreneurship
  • The future of energy: super grid or smart grid or off-grid?

“We started this with the Ontario Power Authority, which is the precursor to the IESO after I gave a ‘lunchtime lesson’ on energy generation in 2014,” said Dan McGillivray. “We’ve had engineers, accountants, lawyers, and professional planners – a really wide range of people – coming to our sessions. We also have a guest speaker come in for every session except for the first one – experts that can speak directly to the topic at hand.”

Guest speakers during the fall 2017 session included Paul Murphy, past president and CEO of the IESO, Richard Laszlo, from the Quality Urban Energy Systems of Toronto, and Joerg Wittenbrinck, senior policy advisor at the Ontario Ministry of Energy and former Ryerson professor.

IESO staff that complete the series receive a record of completion certificate.

Tom Aagaard, a graduate of the 2015 session and senior analyst in the policy engagement and innovation division at the IESO, says the program has helped him in his professional life.

“Sean and Dan provided a lot of context for how policy decisions are made, and why the system and the market are the way they are today,” he said. “I liked the series because it provided a lot of background context that gave me a better understanding of the current state of the industry.”

Sean Conway, who served in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1975 until 2003, uses his expertise in the political arena to explain the relationship between government and utilities.

“Why do people in government do some of the things they do? This series explains why certain changes of policy happen. It gives employees of the energy sector context in which they’re operating. It’s really enjoyable from my point of view as an instructor to teach this program,” said Sean Conway.

IESO’s Manager of Learning and Organizational Development, Carol Pask, said the goal of the programming is to provide employees with important context about the “past and present of the energy sector, and to get excited about future possibilities.”

“This broader strategic perspective is a lens for them to get excited about their own roles at the IESO as they see how they contribute to the larger picture,” Pask said.

This year’s sessions will be running in fall 2018 from October 18 through to December 13. If you would like to learn more about hosting a similar series in your workplace, please visit our professional development page.

Kiki Cekota is a third-year Journalism student at Ryerson University. 

"This broader strategic perspective is a lens for them to get excited about their own roles at the IESO as they see how they contribute to the larger picture."