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Wednesday
Jun262019

ISO-NE CEO Gordon van Welie talks about careers and change at luncheon with summer interns

A hybrid grid is emerging in New England, making today among the most exciting times to work in the energy industry. Twenty-seven college students from around the country are now getting their first, hands-on professional experience in areas from risk management and resource adequacy to IT and business.

As part of their 11-week program, ISO New England CEO Gordon van Welie recently joined the interns for conversation over lunch.

ISO-NE CEO Gordon van Welie introduces himself to the 2019 intern class

van Welie, a native of an industrial South African town, shared highlights of his career beginning as a utility worker in South Africa in 1983, accepting a position at Siemens Energy in Minneapolis, MN, advancing to vice president and general manager of the Power Systems Control Division, and then joining ISO New England as Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President, ultimately becoming President and CEO. This progression culminated from his experiences pursuing both electrical engineering and a master’s degree in business. While he still considers himself an engineer at heart, he acknowledged that his education and experience in business provided him the skill set necessary to lead a diverse community like the ISO.

“I learn something new every day.”

Now entering his 19th year at the ISO, van Welie said his current position remains captivating everyday due to its dynamic nature. “If the change comes to you, that’s as good as going to the change," he said. “At the ISO, the change comes to us.”

David Koleczek, a second-year intern in day-ahead support, said listening to van Welie speak is always a valuable experience.

“Even though I have been working here for over a year, I learned a lot about the various challenges that the region faces and the exciting potential coming in the near future in terms of the new technology that will affect the ISO,” he said. “It makes me excited about potential career paths as I reach the latter half of my college career.”

Operational Performance Training and Integration intern Tim Zhang speaks with van Welie

van Welie stressed the importance of work-life balance to the next generation of energy workers, urging them to never lose sight of an enjoyable, collaborative working environment.

“You really want to like the people you’re working with,” he said. “If you don’t, that brings a lot of stresses. Collaboration is the number one thing that makes you prosper.”

The students engaged easily with van Welie, asking questions ranging from energy storage technology to his personal experience at the ISO.

Power System Model Management intern Annalyse Nichols said that she was inspired by van Welie’s personable nature.

“It was really cool how he was so down-to-earth. I really enjoyed how he emphasized change and how it is okay,” she said. “When you’re an engineer, change is part of the work.”

For more information about ISO’s summer internship program, contact University Relations Specialist Angela Gaspar.

Written by Corporate Communications intern Kyle Moynihan, UMass Amherst