(WINDSOR, ON) – Did ineffective councillor, and now interim mayor, Drew Dilkens do right by appointing an accountant and school teacher, with no industry experience, as the Chief Executive Officer of EnWin? Or, is he just continuing an apparent practice of the Francis Council of putting people in senior management positions who do not have the appropriate training, education, and experience?
On the surface, it seems Dilkens is just continuing a tradition of sorts that threatens to give the city nothing less than a bad name.
In this day and age, organizations need the best they can get and that usually includes managers who have relevant experience and training. Going the other way may not be a recipe for success.
Putting the city’s current Chief Administrative Officer, Helga Reidel, in the manager’s chair of EnWin does seem to perpetuate a bad management practice.
It is hard to believe that a call for applicants, that netted a reported 100 respondents, did not produce at least one with a more aligned background. Could this hint qualified people won’t consider even applying for senior jobs in Windsor?
Although, it is not unusual for the city to pick leaders who seem inappropriately prepared.
Transit Windsor is a good example. It is now run by a bus driver. There is limited information on his educational accomplishments, although the city did bump up his resume to say he was a “coach operator.”
The city’s failed former mayor, Eddie Francis, appointed himself as manager of airport despite having no experience, training, or education for such a position. The current leader of the neophytes at the local economic development office brags about having no economic development experience.
Reidel’s background, reported by the local paper, back on September 16, 2009, other than working at the city, includes earning the title chartered accountant as well as an Ontario teaching certificate. She also worked for Windsor Family Credit Union as a finance vice-president, before being called back to the city in 2009, as its chief administrative officer, “… without the usual headhunter search.”
In media reports, Reidel claims to be looking forward to having a job with a narrower focus so she can go deeper into the organization. However, to go deep, it would seem, she would need some pretty specific expertise.
A look at what other electric utilities are looking for in a leader seems to suggest Reidel lacks a lot of that expertise.
Virginia’s A&N Electric Cooperative, currently conducting a search for a new CEO, sets a pretty high bar, compared to Windsor. One of its key criteria is industry experience.
In a help-wanted advertisement, it makes this very clear suggesting an appropriate candidate, “… must have strong business acumen reflecting their ability to grasp complex industry-specific and general business practices and their impact on the membership.”
It envisions its new leader having a wealth of utility operational management that seems lacking in Reidel’s background. This includes leading, “… the strategic, risk management, operational, engineering, technology, customer service and financial planning initiatives and functions required of an electric distribution cooperative.”
Reidel will find herself in a regulated industry. It is hard to understand how she has a, “… firm grasp of the electric utility industries’ evolving legislative and regulatory challenges.”
And finally, A&N is demanding senior management level experience, “… in the electric utility industry is required.”
Oddly enough, A&N is not being picky. Other electric utilities looking for leaders also require similar tried and tested candidates.
The Long Island Power Authority, another example, is looking for a CEO with an engineering degree or even a Master’s degree in Business along with at least fifteen years general leadership experience, “… including the electric utility industry.”
There a reason these organizations are seeking leaders with specific industry experience. It is because such applicants can hit the ground running and know what to do.
Why Windsor does not take the lead from them is hard to understand.
Robert Tuomi can be heard at 8:30 pm every Monday evening and noon every Wednesday co-hosting Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor on CJAM 99.1 FM. Listen on demand to previous episodes or catch the discussion live and join in. Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor is broadcast every Monday and Wednesday to the Windsor and Detroit listening area and streamed online at CJAM.