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Akins discusses how leaders will engage strategic plan

by on March 7, 2013

Approximately 520 leaders from across the company met Feb. 28 for the Moving Forward: AEP Leadership Summit, held at 11 different locations to focus on aligning company leadership on the implementation of the company’s strategic plan.

Nick Akins, president and chief executive officer, underscored the importance of the conference by making his opening remarks from his home by telephone, even though he was ill.

“We’ve accomplished a lot together in the past year to get this company ready for the future,” he said. “It’s important for us as a leadership team to move forward together from this point.

“Some people think the repositioning was about cost cutting,” he said. “It wasn’t about cost cutting, it was about improving processes and achieving savings to alleviate some of the pressures we would have in moving some of our cost structures over to growth types of businesses — our competitive business in generation, transmission, and other areas.”

Nick Akins

Nick Akins

He noted that analysts at a Feb. 15 meeting in New York City recognized that the company has been successful in executing financial and operational goals over the past year, including the resolution of regulatory issues in Ohio and other states, and the commissioning of the John W. Turk, Jr. Power Plant. And, he said, analysts came away from that meeting with positive feelings that AEP would continue to achieve its objectives going forward.

“This company, and you, have done an excellent job at reallocating capital across the lines of businesses to make sure we are improving our growth expectations and that we are putting our money in the right place. And when we do that, and when we focus on operational excellence and the service to our customers associated with that, with that degree and line of focus, AEP becomes a very meaningful place for our employees to work.”

Akins outlined the overall execution strategy for the company to move forward, one that has added one element to the strategic plan from last year’s leadership summit.

“In executing our strategy last year, we didn’t have anything related to culture,” he said. “And I think in the past year we’ve recognized how important our employees are to the success of this company. We as leaders have to work to ensure that we are engaging every employee. We need 18,000 very talented employees to work through this transition with us, and take this company to a very positive place in the future.”

Since it is abstract and subjective, culture is difficult to convey, Akins said. “It will be hard, but you’re going to have to reach out to employees, have those discussions, communicate the strategy and vision, and focus on how each business unit can contribute to AEP’s overall strategy and vision so that every employee will know exactly what their role is.”

Akins said having the three legs of culture, strategy and execution all fitting together is extremely important to AEP’s success. Similarly, he said that optimizing talent, discipline and leadership is also critical.¬†

He quoted Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer as saying that if he had a team with talent, he could probably win seven to eight games. If he added discipline, he could win eight to nine games. But if he added leadership to that, he could win a national championship.

“And that’s where we’re at,” Akins said. “We have 18,000 talented employees. We’re now achieving the discipline, and we are going to do the work to develop a culture that supports the continuation of that discipline. And we must have leadership — that’s where we all come in. We need to make sure we invigorate all 18,000 employees to be leaders in some aspect of their business. If they are, then we’re going to go a long way.”

The conference, held at 1 Riverside Plaza, was videoconferenced to locations in Ashland, Charleston, Chicago, Corpus Christi, Fort Wayne, Gahanna, Shreveport, St. Louis, Tulsa, and Washington, D.C.

In sessions moderated by Dale Heydlauff, vice president – Corporate Communications, AEP’s senior leaders spoke during the day to update leaders on key strategic issues, and later participated in a question-and-answer session with summit participants. Topics included:

Repositioning Study Implementation — David Feinberg, executive vice president and general counsel;

Addressing Cultural Health — Lana Hillebrand, senior vice president and chief administrative officer;

Invest in Operating Companies and Optimize Return on Equity — Operating company presidents;

Transformation of the Generation Fleet — Mark McCullough, executive vice president – Generation;

Growth in Transmission Business — Lisa Barton, executive vice president – Transmission;

Corporate Separation in Ohio, Eastern Power Pool Transformation and Compliance Issues – Rich Munczinski, senior vice president – Regulatory Services;

Building a Competitive Business Platform — Chuck Zebula, executive vice president – Energy Supply; and

Strategy Summary — Brian Tierney, executive vice president and chief financial officer.

From → News From AEP

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