Inside an immaculate auditorium on the campus of DeSales University near Allentown, Pa., PPL Energy Supply President Dave DeCampli sat, relaxed, in front of more than 130 graduate and undergraduate students and guests.
One by one, the students rose to ask questions: “How do you balance the work-life demands of an executive? How do you pick and develop your team? How do you show humility as a leader without appearing weak?”
DeCampli listened carefully and spoke openly with his audience.
“Throughout my career, I have learned from mistakes I’ve made,” DeCampli said, responding to the question on humility. A good leader, he said, is not afraid to take calculated risks and make mistakes from time to time. The key, he told students, is to not wallow in those mistakes.
“Acknowledge it, own it, learn from it and move forward,” he said.
For more than an hour and a half, DeCampli offered students advice on what it takes to be a successful leader during DeSales’ first Executive Forum event, one the university hopes will become an annual affair. The request for DeCampli to participate grew out of the special relationship PPL EnergyPlus has with the university, a relationship that continues to strengthen.
For a student perspective of the event, click here.
In the Trading Wing
As DeCampli spoke in the auditorium of the new Gambet Center for Business and Healthcare Education, students’ fingers danced across keyboards a floor above. There, students caught up on homework in a state-of-the-art room. Behind them, a digital stock ticker flashed logos and stock prices for some of the nation’s giants of commerce.
The room, part of the Gambet Center’s PPL EnergyPlus Trading Wing, replicates a real-life trading center. In it, the university is capable of running trading scenarios and simulating all manner of markets that allow students to go through the motions of buying, selling and swapping everything from stocks to energy resources.
“When we discuss portfolio analysis, they can actually see how a trading floor operates,” said Dr. Chris Cocozza, associate professor of business and head of the university’s Division of Business.
Cocozza said exercises to date have mostly focused on stock trading. However, he said the college is working with PPL EnergyPlus to develop energy trading scenarios that will further enhance the student experience.
The university opened the new center last spring. PPL and PPL EnergyPlus sponsored the trading wing as part of the corporation’s continued commitment to education and to developing future talent that might one day qualify for positions within PPL.
A natural fit
“It just seemed like a natural fit,” said Anne Fiore, director-Marketing and Trading Administration for PPL EnergyPlus. “The university’s strong commitment to attracting and developing diverse business talent right here in our own backyard resonated with us. That’s something we can leverage as we look to recruit such talent to further PPL’s success.”
Since the center’s opening, the relationship with DeSales has continued to expand, giving students a unique window into energy trading, as well as life at one of the nation’s largest energy companies.
This fall, more than 20 business students visited the company’s trading center in Allentown, hearing from PPL EnergyPlus employees what it’s like to work at PPL and getting a behind-the-scenes glimpse of trading operations.
In addition to the visit, PPL EnergyPlus employees have attended career fair and service days, provided input on curriculum, served as guest speakers, helped to judge the university’s Ethics Bowl, participated in mock career interviews and donated clothing to help students dress for success.
Fiore said employees have enthusiastically volunteered support for initiatives aimed at strengthening the relationship. And she said PPL is seeking to expand internship opportunities for qualified DeSales students.
Rachel Myslinski, a DeSales triple major – finance, accounting and marketing –interned for PPL EnergyPlus from summer through fall last year.
“Having that internship was a huge help,” said Myslinski, noting that PPL EnergyPlus engaged her in meaningful work more than other internships she’d had. It provided a learning experience, she said, that she couldn’t have gotten from textbooks alone.
Myslinski, fittingly, had the honor of introducing DeCampli during his recent talk with students. Someone with leadership ambitions of her own, she hopes to one day blaze her own trail of leadership success. Preparing her for that journey is what PPL’s relationship with DeSales is all about.
This article was written by Ryan Hill, manager, supply communications for PPL Energy Plus, and will appear in the company's internal publication, Dimensions. Used with permission. Photos courtesy of PPL.
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