The energy conference “junket”? We don’t think so! • COLUMN
By David Arkell
May 11, 2018 - Are energy conferences worth the effort? Some dismiss them as junkets—nothing more than an enviable perk. An excuse to escape from work for a few days. I say, trash the cynicism.
By David Arkell
Energy conferences provide good professional development value. They present opportunities to learn from experts, compare notes with peers, and stimulate new ideas for your own facility.
It’s not a junket when investing in employee development.
That said, conference delegates and presenters can get a lot more out of their attendance with just a bit of planning. Here are my top four strategies for making the most out of an energy conference experience:
1. Make serious advance preparation
Know what would be most helpful to you and your energy team. Review the conference program, and identify the speakers and sessions that will address your concerns. Make an effort to introduce yourself to those people you’ve identified in advance; have questions prepared (more on that below) and make sure to get their contact info.
2. Create learning objectives
Write out one or two key questions for which you want answers. Your energy team colleagues might have suggestions.
3. Ask questions. Rinse and repeat.
For each question you prepare in advance, ask it at least 10 times during the conference. Ask it to speakers after a presentation, delegates at random during coffee breaks, tradeshow booth representatives.
We use this same tactic when engaging employees at client businesses. It is always enlightening to hear the diversity of responses to a question for which it seems, at first glance, there can be only one clear answer. This strategy gives you insight into how a problem can be viewed and solved from different perspectives; you can then develop your own informed response based on what you’ve learned from others.
4. Record and report
Like a good journalist, record the responses and report your findings to colleagues when you return to work. That way, everyone benefits.
You get out what you put in
Whether I’m a presenter or a delegate, my own objectives are similar. As a presenter, though, I think of my audience and prepare a list of the key takeaways I believe will be relevant and helpful for them. I like discussing case studies because they contain real-world lessons. I outline practical steps that can help others replicate energy management successes while hopefully, avoiding the pitfalls others have experienced.
I want my audience to go home with practical ideas they can implement.
I also truly look forward to questions from conference participants. The topics they raise help me learn what is top-of-mind. By probing my presentation, their questions can spark new thinking and insights I may not have considered.
On that note, I strongly encourage to check out upcoming conferences that are relevant to energy managers.
In particular, there’s the Energy Summit (Vaughan, Ont., May 30-31), which is sponsored by NRCan and EMC (Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium). This Summit occurs every two years, bringing together Canada’s subject-matter experts to discuss how to increase energy efficiency across Canada. The forum provides four different topic streams, which provide both knowledge and customer connections that will give you the power to save.
The U.S. Industrial Energy Technology Conference (New Orleans, June 12-14) attracts energy leaders from North America and internationally. It is of major importance when educating the industrial energy community regarding industrial innovations, energy use and waste reduction programs, and sharing the latest in relevant state and federal programs.
360 Energy will be presenting or chairing sessions at both events. I hope to see you there, field your questions and learn what is top-of-mind for you.
I love genuine dialogue… it helps all of us to learn more.
David Arkell is the president & CEO of 360 Energy, and has a deep understanding of energy markets and customer energy usage. He has developed results-driven innovations in utility tracking and whole-organization process integration. Together, these have made 360 Energy a leader in energy management consulting across North America. For more information, visit www.360energy.net.