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Consumers Energy opens leadership center

Training hub at GVSU downtown campus will focus on preparing company’s future leaders.

May 5, 2017
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John G. Russell Leadership Center
Consumers Energy’s new training hub is housed at Grand Valley State University and will host up to 300 employees from across the state at any given time. Courtesy Consumers Energy

Consumers Energy celebrated the opening of its new leadership center at the downtown campus of Grand Valley State University recently.

The John G. Russell Leadership Center, 120 Front Ave. SW, is the latest training “hub” for Consumers Energy and will focus on leadership and professional development.

Stacy Mowrer, director of learning and development with Consumers Energy, said the company already has training hubs in Marshall and West Olive dedicated to training operating, maintenance and construction employees.

It also has a training center in Potterville, where Utility Workers of America teach skills to union employees.

The Grand Rapids building will provide a single location for leadership training sessions, as well as new employee orientation, technical and safety training, and project management training and certification.

Mowrer said a big focus for the leadership center is on preparing Consumers Energy’s future leaders.

“We anticipate a significant amount of retirements over the next five years, and as a result of that, we’ve identified this need to prepare not just our leaders for today, but our leaders for the future,” she said.

“We know, based on our research, as leaders make transitions and take on roles of greater responsibility, upward of 40 percent of those leaders underperform during those transition times. The intent of our programs is to shore up key leadership capabilities so we don’t have that timeframe where leaders are adjusting and potentially underperforming during that transition.”

At any given time, up to 300 Consumers Energy employees from across Michigan will participate in training within the building.

The $11-million, 31,000-square-foot center includes three large classrooms and a smaller concept classroom, all of which can be reconfigured as needed.

Mowrer said the facility was designed to be adaptable and to support experiential learning.

“The intent of the space is to create different experiential learning opportunities,” she said. “More and more, we are delivering learning as part of a large group and then asking individuals to get into small groups to work on application or response to a question and then coming back together and sharing with the larger group, so the spaces are laid out differently.”

The facility also integrates top-of-the-line technology to improve collaboration and networking among participants. There also is video conferencing equipment for distance learning.

The building sits on land leased to the company by GVSU.

Mowrer said it was important to Consumers Energy to partner with a college or university on the project, and it chose GVSU thanks to already existing partnerships, which include a solar garden and an executive MBA program.

Mowrer said Consumers Energy plans to use the full building at least four days a week, but when the company is not using areas of the building, GVSU will be able to use it.

In addition, the company will have reciprocity with Grand Valley facilities.

Mowrer said Consumers Energy already is taking advantage of the large auditorium in the L. William Seidman Center.

The John G. Russell Leadership Center is a Rockford Construction project.

The building was constructed to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The center features a glass exterior with energy-efficient heating, cooling and lighting; natural light; reclaimed wood; and fixtures to reduce water use.

The building is named after John Russell, Consumers Energy’s former president and CEO, who now chairs the boards of the energy provider and parent company CMS Energy. Russell also serves on the Grand Valley State University Board of Trustees.

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