Helping people is what Karen Williams does best, so she is well suited for her role as customer service coordinator for SOS Intl. Early in her career, she was a nurse, a career Navy wife and a small business owner. When she had to settle into a new community, her paths crossed with the founders of SOS who were launching their own electric utility training business.
Now she helps electric utilities and students achieve their goals through training solutions, as SOS provides training and compliance consulting to electric utilities. The company tracks and interprets NERC Reliability Standards, translating them into customized training and compliance solutions - helping to manage risk and ensure reliability for the North American power grid. SOS offers instructor-led and online courses, accompanied by sophisticated computer simulation. All are designed using a systematic approach to training, as required by NERC.
“It is important that we listen to people in the industry, provide top-shelf training to keep those lights on, and help training managers and students by giving them direction that will help them solve their problems,” Williams said.
Working in customer service gives Williams a unique perspective into what students are looking for. Transferring what she learns on the front lines to the development teams helps to build effective, targeted training. In addition to assisting with the SOS Learning Management System and behind-the-scenes operations, she compiles information and files Individual Learning Assessments (ILA) with NERC. To properly submit an ILA and get it approved, she needs a detailed understanding of course objectives and content that is being delivered.
“Karen is all about helping people, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” said Melissa Sease, director, Public Relations and Certified Master Trainer at SOS. “She even eases their anxieties before they take the NERC exam.”
Williams stresses the importance of NERC certification training, as she has come to have a better appreciation for what it takes to keep the lights on. “NERC certification training is just as important as any other professional training and credential maintenance, doctor, lawyer, etc. You are expected to know the material so you can do the job, not just pass an exam,” she said. “Keeping the power grid operating, to keep the public happy, is not an easy task.”
She also tells students to “keep calm and carry on. It’s not just a cliché. You get out of it what you put into it.” Students must study for hours to prepare for the NERC exam, but some people can do that and not learn anything, Williams said. “It is important to learn the material so exam questions can be analyzed and the knowledge learned applied. SOS provides the tools for exam preparation; the rest is up to the student. Relax, don’t cram, and remember, we are here to assist you in any way we can -- except take the test for you.”
Williams does like to get outside of the stress of processes and procedures sometimes by reading a good historical fiction or suspense novel. She also has several “artsy” outlets: jewelry making, sewing, and textiles. She actually has her own loom for weaving.