Industrial Skills

Karen Williams

Manager of Student Services

Karen has over 16 years of experience helping students achieve their training requirements and resolve their challenges. She oversees and coordinates training documents and maintains critical information regarding student progress, records, and CEHs. She communicates with students regarding curriculum, teaching techniques, recommendations, and concerns. Karen works closely with NERC to make sure HSI training matches the requirements for CEHs, including reviewing learning objectives and coordinating ILA submission and review.

On the Front Lines

Transmission & Distribution World

T&D asked Karen about her background and role at HSI:

Helping people is what Karen does best, so she is well suited for her role as Manager of Student Services. Early in her career, she was a nurse, a career Navy wife and a small business owner. When she had to settle into a new community, her path crossed with the founders of HSI who were launching their electric utility training business.

Now she helps electric utilities and students achieve their goals through training solutions, as HSI provides training and compliance consulting to electric utilities.

“It is important that we listen to people in the industry, provide top-shelf training to keep those lights on, and help training managers and students by giving them direction that will help them solve their problems,” Williams said.

Working in students services gives Williams a unique perspective into what students are looking for. Transferring what she learns on the front lines to the development teams helps to build effective, targeted training. In addition to assisting with the HSI Learning Management System and behind-the-scenes operations, she compiles information and files Individual Learning Assessments (ILA) with NERC. To properly submit an ILA and get it approved, she needs a detailed understanding of course objectives and content that is being delivered.

“Karen is all about helping people, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” said Melissa Sease, director, Public Relations and Certified Master Trainer at HSI. “She even eases their anxieties before they take the NERC exam.”

Williams stresses the importance of NERC certification training, as she has come to have a better appreciation for what it takes to keep the lights on. “NERC certification training is just as important as any other professional training and credential maintenance, doctor, lawyer, etc. You are expected to know the material so you can do the job, not just pass an exam,” she said. “Keeping the power grid operating, to keep the public happy, is not an easy task.”

She also tells students to “keep calm and carry on. It’s not just a cliché. You get out of it what you put into it.” Students must study for hours to prepare for the NERC exam, but some people can do that and not learn anything, Williams said. “It is important to learn the material so exam questions can be analyzed and the knowledge learned applied. HSI provides the tools for exam preparation; the rest is up to the student. Relax, don’t cram, and remember, we are here to assist you in any way we can -- except take the test for you.”

Williams does like to get outside of the stress of processes and procedures sometimes by reading a good historical fiction or suspense novel. She also has several “artsy” outlets: jewelry making, sewing, and textiles. She even has her own loom for weaving.

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