NYPA: Doug McMahon


VP, Strategy

PUF 2.0 - October 15, 2017

PUF's Steve Mitnick: What do you do here?

Doug McMahon: My role is to get all the senior leaders and other key subject matter experts from across the organization together to help formulate the strategic plan. Then to work as key conduit to the rest of the business, in terms of helping make sure that plan is actually put into action.

I've been at NYPA now for two years and we've just gone through this strategy refresh process. My job now moving forward is to make sure that refresh becomes reality.

PUF's Steve Mitnick: Was this process hard?

Doug McMahon: Yes. Part of NYPA's uniqueness is that it has lots of different types of folks from across the entire region. We have plants up in Niagara as well as a presence further down south in the state.

Doug McMahon: NYPA has a CEO who’s got an extremely progressive and clear vision for how he sees the utility industry unfolding.

You have lots of different viewpoints. You've got lots of different people with different experiences of the utility industry. Trying to bring that all together and get collective agreement can be challenging.

What has made it really interesting during my time at NYPA, has been that we do have a CEO who's got an extremely progressive and clear vision for how he sees the utility industry unfolding.

That makes it a very interesting place to work, but more importantly, our senior execs understand that vision and are behind that vision, and have the capabilities to execute it as well. That's a very rewarding business environment for me to work in. It is also a great starting place from which to drive change.

PUF's Steve Mitnick: Sum up the future of NYPA. What's that vision?

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Doug McMahon: The way I look at it is, the industry is moving to a much more distributed, decarbonized and democratized grid. To be able to manage the opportunities that the future grid will present for its customers as well as drive the transition of the grid, NYPA is going to have to become increasingly digitized.

This notion, this key thread that runs through the plan for me, is that NYPA needs to be in the future, a digital utility at its heart. When our customers think about NYPA in five, or ten years' time.

What would define success for me is if they think of NYPA as a services and technology organization as well as an engineering and infrastructure business.

PUF's Steve Mitnick: What does that involve?

Doug McMahon: First, the easy piece is being done now, because we've agreed on what the refresh should look like. We've also agreed on what our focus and direction should be as an organization moving forward.

The true work now is putting that into action. My role, aside from helping the business set that direction, is to work in a very collaborative way with other parts of the business. Those include folks in strategic operations, our folks in customer energy solutions and those in our business services functions to communicate why we're changing the plan.

I explained the things that are driving us to think about refreshing the start plan, and refocus that plan.

Second, to explain how we're going to change and then finally to start to talk about what is going to change in the business moving forward. Over the next few months, we'll go through an extensive period of communication within the business. After that, we need to start slowly implementing those changes through the strategic initiatives that are essential to the overall strategic plan.

PUF's Steve Mitnick: What would be some of the biggest changes that would occur in the next three or four years?

Doug McMahon: We'll see a lot of changes in the skills and capabilities and competencies of our employees. We are still at our heart an engineering company, and those kinds of skill sets will continue to be cherished and valued as we continue to keep the lights on for our customers.

Also, those same employees are going to have to learn how to analyze data and use that data to inform business decisions. I see one of those key changes as being the kind of skill sets and capabilities that our employees are going to have to adopt and use in the workplace each day.

The other big thing for me is this notion that we're going to have to start to work with others outside of NYPA with greater frequency. We have a lot of core competencies ourselves, as a business, but in this new utility world, there are going to be things that need to get done on behalf of our customers that NYPA can't do itself.

We're going to have to start to partner and collaborate with the other utilities in New York, with up-and-coming startup organizations, and with trusted technology vendors, to be able to deliver this future NYPA vision and make sure that we continue to deliver that success for our customers.

PUF's Steve Mitnick: How did you get to this point in your career?

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Doug McMahon: I was a consultant in the U.K. and in New York for ten to fifteen years. After doing some work with NYPA as a consultant, I decided that I was interested in delving deeper into the industry.

NYPA is a tremendous place to work, for someone who wants to try and innovate and to make the changes that we believe the electricity grid needs.


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