By Paul Hughes
Southern California Edison
Paul Grigaux has a busy agenda ahead as the newly hired director of SCE’s Shop Services and Instrumentation Division (SSID).
Three of his biggest challenges include rebuilding morale and trust within the organization, ensuring maximum use of the facility by in-house customers and advancing use of the division’s excess capacity by third party customers.
It might not be so easy, as he is confronted with an aging workforce – 30 percent of whom are expected to retire in the next five years.
“We’re about to lose tremendous talent, and we need to be very aggressive and proactive in beginning the knowledge transfer process,” Grigaux said, an accent from his native France clearly evident.
In response, SSID is developing a training and qualifications program to educate new employees before those who will retire in the coming years officially do so.
Grigaux came to the United States as a teenager more than 23 years ago and received a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Cooper Union School of Engineering in New York. He later earned an MBA from New York University.
Grigaux, whose position also includes senior vice president of Edison ESI, oversees an expansive, 28-acre complex in Westminster, where more than 200 skilled craft personnel and technicians repair and test power generation and transmission components – transformers, steam turbines, circuit breakers, motors and generators, measuring equipment and tools – for SCE and outside enterprises. SSID also provides a variety of engineering services and supplies heavy equipment, including cranes, for SCE and third party customers.
Through previous work experience on the East Coast, “I had known of this facility [SSID] and its capabilities. It’s a unique facility in the country,” Grigaux said.
Aside from coping with the loss of knowledgeable people, Grigaux also will identify ways to more efficiently utilize the SSID facility, evaluate how the division can be used for the betterment of all of SCE and ensure the facility is able to efficiently serve third party customers.
In addition to so called “other operating revenue”, outside work provides for SCE, it also offers a way for craft personnel to stay nimble with their skills. “If you go three months without doing any work, you tend to get rusty. It affects your performance, your motivation, and also your level of expertise, and therefore your productivity later on,” Grigaux said.
Employee morale will also be a task for Grigaux. Employee confidence has been down in recent years because of workforce reductions caused by the company’s financial crisis, he said. Additionally, funds were not being spent on employee training or to update equipment and tools, he said. Moreover, there was too little communication at all ranks, he said.
Grigaux said he has a “very direct and open communication style” that involves making everyone “aware of where we are at all times and why we are where we are.” This approach to management will help solve these low morale issues, he said.
On the job since May, Grigaux previously worked for a variety of companies on the East Coast. Among those positions was as a field engineer for BOC Gases, where he specialized in supplying the food industry with liquid nitrogen, liquid carbon dioxide and other agents used to quickly freeze edibles, such as strawberries and seafood. After the company sent him to graduate school, he began working in the company’s Project Unity program, which is the equivalent of SCE’s Business Processes Integration (BPI).
Grigaux later worked for the CFO of an electric utility, GPU, Inc., that had sold its power generating business and was seeking new investments. His mandate was to identify and develop new non-regulated business segments. It was, he said, a mergers and acquisitions type of role.
He then joined ALSTOM T&D, SA to help develop the company’s new service business unit worldwide and managed the US service operations. After he effectively built and transformed the US division’s culture from that of being products based to service-oriented, the business was sold to a huge nuclear engineering firm.
At that time, he learned of the opportunity to head up the SSID facility and contacted Deepak Nanda, the facility’s previous director, and Dick Rosenblum, SCE sr. vice president.
Jennifer E. Smith, Technical Services manager, said Grigaux is a personable director who takes a holistic view of SSID.
“He has an understanding that the people are important, that the client is as well,” she said.
This is a welcomed approach for SSID, which is staffed by engineers and other technical people,” Smith said.
“Engineers look at a project, the details, and are good at solving problems,” she said. “(Grigaux) values every employee’s opinion. He wants them to know their ideas are important and will be considered. He also wants them to be clear about the direction SSID is taking and the guiding principles that will lead them to success.”
Rajinder “Raj” Cheema, supervisor, Standards Lab, Shop Services and Instrumentation Division, said Grigaux has been supportive of the work his department does.
“He’s a strong proponent of SSID doing more business on behalf of SCE. He wants to see us grow within that area,” Cheema said.
Grigaux was hired to replace Deepak Nanda, who assumed new responsibilities in his position as director of the project management organization (PMO).
Grigaux is upbeat about SSID.
“The organization is hungry to move forward and grow. That’s a unanimous feeling here,” he said. “The people here really, really believe in SSID and have lots of ideas on how to better serve SCE’s needs,” he said.