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Career Story: Electrical Transformer Specialist For A Public Utility Company

Electrical Transformer Specialist For A Public Utility Company

Job Title: Principal Analyst

Type of Company: Electricity and gas transmission and distribution.

Education: AS, Electromechanical Technology, Bristol Community College •• BS, Electrical Engineering Technology, Roger Williams University •• MS, Management, Lesley College

Previous Experience: I was a fire control technician in the US Navy for 4 years and in the active Naval Reserve for 7 more years. Naval experience gave me a grounding in electro-mechanical skills and the GI Bill provided partial funding for my AS and BS degrees. While going to school, I became a Field Services Engineer working on power plant air quality emissions. After 7 years in that job, I was hired by the largest public utility in the Northeast, where I worked as a supervisor in various capacities. I am now responsible for supply chain management and transformer/capacitor purchasing for this company, which is now part of a multi-national gas/electric transmission and distribution corporation, the second largest in the US.

Job Tasks: I am responsible for understanding the technical specifications and specialty applications of 600 electric distribution transformers and capacitors. Transformers can cost from $1500 to $40,000. Excess inventory ties up capital. As the key supply-chain person for the northeastern United States I oversee the inventory of each regional location. I analyze usage, project future needs and order sufficient quantities of each type of transformer and capacitor to meet projected needs. I work with project engineers in each location on ways to standardize transformer types to reduce overall inventory and control costs. I work with warehouse management and transportation to ensure prompt replenishment of regional transformer needs. I work directly with vendors when transformers do not meet specifications and assist in determining application standards.

About half of my time is spent on analysis, using Access and Excel supplemented by Business Objects reporting from our corporate inventory and purchasing systems. In addition to Access and Excel, I need to be proficient in math and algebra. I need to have good people skills, since I need to teach engineers how to better manage their inventory so the company doesn't have millions of dollars tied up in inventory that we don't immediately need.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The most difficult part of the job is having to ensure that I always have enough transformers on hand to meet emergency demand (heat waves, hurricanes, blizzards) and ongoing project needs, while keeping inventory low. This is a balancing act that requires weekly analysis. Running out of a particular transformer could result in loss of power for an extended period while an alternate is found. The best part of the job is developing working relationships with so many different people in the US and overseas. I am always challenged, my job is interesting and I can see the results of what I do when there is an emergency situation and we can get power back up quickly because we have the right resources on hand.

Job Tips: When pursuing a technical education, it's easy to forget the importance of working with people. In addition to strong technical skills, don't overlook the "soft skills." Learn negotiation, team building, leadership and change management skills. These skills will help you advance beyond the folks that just know the technical stuff.

Be flexible, creative and curious.

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