Pam Ey did not make an active decision to go into any particular career field while earning her B.S. in accounting and MBA and PhD in business administration. She didn’t want to limit herself. She gravitated toward a purpose instead, and a set of values and habits that support it.
“My purpose for many years has been to help individuals and organizations with performance goals,“ Ey said. “I accomplish this through understanding the research basis for what it takes to achieve goals as well as the levers for change.”
Ey is training consultant for SOS Intl, a provider of training and compliance consulting to the power industry. She and her team have “lots of exciting and challenging projects coming up,” she said. “Training consulting covers quite a bit of ground.”
She is working with several clients to set up formal training programs that meet the requirements of PER-005 – Version 2, a NERC Personnel Training Standard. Many of SOS Intl’s clients have formal training programs established, and Ey’s team is helping them with “what comes next” through program capability maturity assessments. Still others have technical training programs in place, and they want to look more closely at the competencies that have the biggest impact in job performance – particularly for real-time operations jobs.
“Creating training programs with the goal of building individual expertise continues to be a popular request for us,” she said.
For more than 20 years, Ey has focused on questions from changes that are needed for achieving individual and organizational performance goals. In 2012, she founded The Center for Innovative Decision Making. She brings her experience from those areas to SOS including: planning, implementing, mitigating and evaluating. To support those areas with actionable programs, she created and delivered programs and workshops globally for utilities.
“Utilities are complex entities in specific ways. SOS understand that this complexity has an enormous impact on training and training-related issues. The ‘whole’ is different from the sum of the parts, and those differences have real significance,” Ey said. “I help clients to identify the universe of factors that impact training and address those factors – even though not all of them will fall into a particular project scope. This helps prioritize the initiatives that will bring the most value for clients.”
Ey’s varied business and research background has given her experience with approaching training programs from a business perspective, rather than a strictly technical perspective. “The work I have done with the Center for Applied Cognitive Studies, in particular, has strengthened my understanding of job competencies and why people behave and do what they do. Believe it or not, some of the best training experience I received was through teaching classes at Reed’s Karate Academy,” she said.
She wants to get across to clients that being able to demonstrate capability to perform individual job tasks is a requirement but isn’t necessarily sufficient for doing the job of a system operator.
“As an industry, we sometimes miss the forest for the trees, so to speak. We tend to focus on checking the box for the technical skills needed to perform the job tasks and comply with industry requirements, while at the same time miss the importance of individual and organizational performance,” Ey said. “Human performance, a familiar term in this industry, is a key piece of this overall performance.”
Ey seems to be fulfilling a purpose, as she said she gets a real sense of accomplishment when she hears that as a result of her team’s consulting at SOS, utilities reduce errors and improve performance. Some organizations are beginning to consider the skills and competencies needed for continuous improvement at the highest levels for the industry, she mentioned.
Ey never stops learning, even as she continues to reach her goals. “I am fascinated by so much of the latest research and how SOS can apply some of the findings to our training and consulting projects,” she said.