Between the lines: My job

Gwen Kautz, Dawson PPD General Manager 2018

Gwen Kautz, Dawson PPD General Manager

By Gwen Kautz, General Manager
gkautz at

“You’re the boss, I don’t understand why you can’t make this decision? Just what is your job?” The questions caught me off guard as I had been working with an unhappy customer who felt his concerns were not being addressed. I tried to explain that even I have to follow company policy.

My initial reaction was defensive – like I didn’t put in long hours or didn’t manage the district effectively, or that I wasn’t qualified. So, at first, I wanted to tell him it was none of his business, but the truth is…it is his business, just like it’s your business.

That list of job responsibilities escaped me while standing in front of someone who deserved an answer. Black and white – my job is not. No one day is like the other. Maybe it’s time to share, generally, what I do.

My job has four major components:

  1. To ensure that all customers have a reliable, competitively priced supply of electricity delivered in a safe manner.
  2. To perform at a high level, the leadership and management functions of planning, organizing, directing, communicating, coordinating and controlling the activities and affairs of Dawson Public Power District in accordance with the established federal and state statutes, policies, strategic plans and business objectives as delegated by the Board of Directors.
  3. To provide vision, advice and assistance to the Board of Directors concerning industry changes, strategic planning, business objectives and policy needs that will support the power district’s corporate mission and provide effective guides to operation.
  4. To provide leadership and direction to personnel and obtain their support, ability and cooperation in accomplishing the business objectives. This includes training and development, as well as project opportunities.

To perform those four components effectively, I do a lot of reading, researching, number crunching, historic evaluation of data, trend analysis, cost benefit analysis and have meetings with peer managers in Nebraska, regionally and nationally. It requires that I have “people skills” so I can effectively guide staff to meet objectives. I also need to be willing to take calculated risks to ensure that the district stays up-to-date on what is needed five to 10 years from now.

My job does not begin at 7:30 a.m. and end at 4:30 p.m – ever. It doesn’t stay in the Monday through Friday parameters. I don’t believe any general manager of a rural distribution utility has off-duty time. Interruptions during the day are common place, so it requires an ability to refocus on whatever task I was in the middle of. I’m grateful for an understanding husband who watches me redo a spreadsheet/report at the dinner table.

My experience in the industry (over 40 years) allows me to grow in areas of new challenges such as rural broadband or solar/distributed energy options. It also means that I have to take the 30,000 foot view to see that big picture. I’m no longer in charge of the details.

I can’t do my job well without qualified, professional and engaged department managers and a talented executive assistant. And they can’t do their jobs without the same kind of help. Each of these managers must work within their budget, with their resources, and in concert to meet our goals and objectives. Each brings a piece to the puzzle and sometimes finding the fit takes some effort – but they do it. I’d like to personally thank Jeremy, Cole, Tara, Marsha, Jerry, Tracy, Dean and Paige!

I also can’t do my job without the support and guidance from our 11 directors. In my opinion, Dawson PPD has some of the best in the industry.

My job description is more than four pages long and goes into a lot more detail. I hope this gives you a glimpse into my role as General Manager. I’m blessed to have a job I love and work for a company that appreciates their employees and customers.

Come in and get to know us! My door is always open.

September 2018

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