T&D World Magazine
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Todd Tezeno: Traveling Trainer

Tezeno provides NERC certification preparation and CEH training to meet SOS Intl student needs.

Wherever and whenever his students need him, Todd Tezeno goes. Tezeno provides NERC certification preparation and CEH training to meet SOS Intl student needs.

Before joining SOS, Tezeno spent eight years as system operations training coordinator at Oncor Electric Delivery in Dallas, Texas, where he developed training using the ADDIE process and coordinated compliance with ERCOT guides and protocols. He also coordinated system operator training for transmission and distribution operations through a systematic approach to training.

Tezeno has been a certified NERC System Operator since 2004 and understand the challenges of preparing for and passing the NERC certification exam.

T&D World discussed how important training is as well as compliance with the NERC-mandated  reliability standard.

Q: How does your current and past experience help you in teaching?

I entered the utility industry with the mindset that if I could learn this business, I would always be able to market myself, even if it meant relocating wherever I can find work.  My first job in the power industry was at a coal burning power plant in Texas. As an electrician, I learned equipment maintenance. My transition from the power plant to the transmission field was because of projected layoffs at the plant. As it turned out, it was a great opportunity to learn other areas of the industry.

While working in the transmission area, I learned substation construction and maintenance, high-voltage switching, and station relay operations. The knowledge and experience I gained in these areas have certainly help me in my current position as a technical training specialist for SOS. Also, I currently hold the reliability coordinator and transmission operator certifications.

I like to refer to my crazy schedule as “training on the fly.” I spend many long hours in airports and hotel rooms. My mantra is, “Have training material – will travel.”

Other than the occasional canceled or delayed flight, I am truly loving the fast-paced and challenging life as a trainer. My past positions give me that experience and knowledge needed to train. Being in the utility industry for 29 years has helped me relate to the students and their needs. As a trainer, I simply use these experiences, relevant content, and engaging tools and techniques to present course material the “SOS way”: A way in which students feel comfortable and free to ask questions and participate in class.

Before joining the SOS team, my experience was more company-specific – nine years of training transmission and distribution operators in the ERCOT Interconnection. In this role, I was introduced to the systematic approach to training, specifically the ADDIE model (Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate). As matter of fact, my formal introduction to ADDIE was in 2007 at a Train-the-Trainer class presented by SOS.  As a training coordinator at ERCOT, I delivered courses in emergency operations, system restoration, load shedding, system operator responsibilities during energy emergency alerts, and various reliability-related task courses for normal operations and contingency events.

Q: When and why did you decide to go into power?

After graduating from college with a business degree, I realized I wanted to do something more challenging. My interest in electricity helped me to become a licensed electrician. My first job, an electrician, was at a coal burning power plant. I later took a job at the plant performing substation maintenance and construction. Eventually, I landed a job as a system operator. After many years of operations experience, transitioning to a training coordinator seemed to be a good fit.

Q: Best thing about your job right now?

One of the most rewarding things about my current job is meeting people across the country and having an opportunity to share and compare experiences. While teaching, I encourage students to talk about their job responsibilities - what they like about their job, what they don’t like about their job, and how long they’ve been working in the industry. People love talking about their careers, their achievements, and how they make an impact on the electrical grid.

Q: What courses/sessions have you presented in the past, and what’s coming?

In the past, I’ve had the opportunity to present training courses on frequency impacts, emergency operations, and analyzing and mitigating contingencies. These sessions are for continuing education hours for NERC certified system operators. Currently, I teach the three-day NERC Certification Exam Prep course. This course is targeted to operators preparing to achieve one of the four NERC certification credentials. 

Since January, I’ve presented classes at electric utilities in Denver, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Chicago, Hartford, Nashville, Tacoma, Birmingham, Milwaukee, and Detroit.

Q: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your past experience that you want to communicate to students or participants?

I think whether you’re an instructor or student, what you put into training is what you get out of it. You have to possess a real passion for training if you’re an instructor. Students sense your commitment and desire to help them learn. I’ve experienced some really dedicated, successful instructors during my career. Students may not remember everything they learn during training, but they’ll certainly remember the impact and dedication of the trainer.

Q: Why is system operator training so important?

My subject is important because of the NERC-mandated reliability standard for personnel performance, training and qualifications (PER-003-1). These credentials ensure system operators, responsible for the control of the Bulk Electric System, perform reliability-related tasks correctly. The training and compliance services that SOS provide not only help students to achieve the certification, but also help them to maintain their certification through continuing education hours.

Q:  What do you like to do in your spare time?

Since I’m a licensed electrician, I own and operate a small electrical business. Making service calls and working on projects take up most of my weekends and any spare time I manage to have.

Q:  Anything else you would like to add about training?

Some people see training as an “end;” I see training as a beginning. I feel that utilities will demand a higher level of performance from their employees. Training will continue to evolve from checking off the box for compliance purposes to optimizing human performance.

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