Interview with Kent Larson, Vice President of Transmission, Xcel Energy

Topics: Management, Project management, Vice President of the United States Pages: 6 (2032 words) Published: November 10, 2008
Kent Larson, Vice President of Transmission, Xcel Energy
Xcel Energy is a leading electric and natural gas utility. Xcel Energy is an end to end provider of electricity. Electricity is provided from generation, to high voltage transmission, to distribution, to customer’s homes and businesses. Xcel Energy provides energy-related products and services to 3.3 million electric and 1.8 million natural gas customers. With regulated operations in eight states; Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin, revenues are more than $9 billion annually for the employer of 12,000. A commitment to the environment is vital to the core business practices of Xcel Energy. This strong environment focus has led Xcel Energy to become the number one provider of wind power in the country (Xcel Energy, 2008). Kent Larson is the Vice President of Transmission for Xcel Energy. In the organizational structure, Kent has twelve direct reports and over 2,000 employees report up through his direct reports. From those direct reports, he has six titled Directors of different aspects of substations, transmission, and design. The other six direct reports are of various rotational managers, administrative assistants, and governance. Kent directly reports to Paul Bonavia, the President of the Utilities Group, who reports to Dick Kelley, the Chairman, President, and CEO of Xcel Energy (Appendix 1). A unique management style can be derived from your past experience. Different experiences managers draw from should be used to motivate employees to encourage a high level of performance and achieve organizational goals (Jones & George, 2008, p 62). Kent’s vast experience has led him to lead confidently based on his long list of positions held. Kent has held various positions throughout the company. He began his career as an electric designer, before moving into the role of an Operating Engineer in St. Paul. He then became involved in cost benefit analysis as a Traveling Engineer. From there, he became the Director of Outstate Construction, Operations, and Maintenance (ND, SD, Non-Metro MN) located in Fargo, ND. He spent time as the Director of Sales in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota Regulatory, MN State Vice President, before his current position as the Vice President of Transmission. A typical day for Larson is anything but typical. With his wide area of responsibilities, he often has a dynamic day. The majority of the time he spends at meetings and communicating via email. He has to be “On your toes and ready to go” at all times (K. T. Larson, personal communication, October 15, 2008). Another pitfall of his high level position is that he has to be careful of what he says. The majority of the meetings he attends, he has to give presentations anyone from the Public Utilities Commission, Corporate Executives, Mid-Level Managers, to Union Front Line employees. He has to carefully weigh any response he gives to a question on the off chance that his response will invoke a surety. At his level, caution needs to be taken so that comfort is not given where it should not, nor is fear spread when is should not be. Preparation is vital in planning for his meetings. Many of the meetings he attends, he is a presenter. Kent makes sure to prepare himself well ahead of time for any meetings he leads. Usually, Kent defines his time commitments as 75% true management tasks and 25% other. His definition of management tasks are anything related to his job responsibilities. It could be anything from presenting at a meeting, attending a meeting, or being the recipient of a presentation. Being a corporate level manager, he deals mostly with results and not the process to achieve them. His strong focus on having strong direct reports seem to help facilitate this. The rest of his time is spent on various tasks, but mostly travel. His roles vary depending on the day and time of year, but...

References: Jones, G., George, J. (2008). Contemporary Management. New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
Visitask. (2008). Matrix Organization and project management. Retrieved October 14, 2008, from Visitask-Project Management training and resources:
Xcel Energy. (2008, May 16). About Xcel Energy. Retrieved October 13, 2008, from
The Xcel Energy Corporate Web site:
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