Smart Grid Learning & Development

by Mandana White on December 17, 2020

Hand holding tablet with global database concept

There is no denying that the power grid is undergoing the most significant change at the most rapid rate since its inception. The convergence of digital technology with the electrical grid is presenting previously unimagined opportunity for grid operators, new market players, consumers and society as a whole. However, with this change comes significant challenges around upskilling existing technical teams to drive implementation at the pace that regulators demand, as well as attracting and retaining new digitally savvy talent to inject the fresh thinking that will drive the smooth and cost-effective integration of new technologies into legacy infrastructures.

At Smart Grid Forums we facilitate rapid learning and development for smart grid technical teams. Our programmes of content-heavy implementation focused conferences and seminars provide the in-depth insights that smart grid teams need to drive the implementation, operation and maintenance of new technologies. Time and again we see individual specialists and cross-functional teams come to our forums with a combination of excitement and trepidation at the implementation task at hand and leave with exponentially greater insights and an awareness that empowers them to drive investment decisions and implementation action with greater confidence and ease.

These are peer-to-peer exchanges. They are immersive and focused toward progressive outcomes that affect rapid change and embed new ways of working, through the perfect alignment of people, processes and new technologies. We regularly hear success stories around how our forums have helped participants sharpen their business plans, speed up board approval, secure new resource, and propel their teams into action at a rate previously unimagined.

We believe this magic happens due to the perfect alignment of our intentions as a learning provider with that of our participants’ as pioneering change-makers. Our formula is simple and yet highly effective. The combination of our objective audience research, in-depth technical content, end-user driven speaker selection, and well facilitated networking, provides a buzzing environment where participants are stimulated to think deeply and laterally, to open up fully and express their real-world issues, to challenge the technology innovators and the status quo, and to be receptive to new partnerships and alliances that compound their efforts and drive deployment at the speed of the digital age.

We turn the learning formula on its head. In our world the participant is king. Perhaps the most significant tool we have in shaping our events to so closely meet participants’ learning needs, is our programme research methodology. Based primarily on depth interviewing we uncover both the seen facts, figures, issues and challenges, as well as feel the emotive blocks and hurdles around participants’ perceptions of their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, both on an individual and organisational level. Our focus is firmly on the next 12 months. We understand the pressures that smart grid teams face today and appreciate that these pressures are only set to intensify in the future. Our starting point when shaping a new programme is the question: what do our participants need to do differently today to drive exponential results in the next 12 months?

A case in point is our IEC 61850 Global 2018 programme. Now in its 5th edition, this end-user driven IEC 61850 forum is like no other gathering of IEC 61850 experts in the industry. Chaired by Christoph Brunner, Convenor of TC57 WG10, this forum complements the working group activity, interoperability testing gatherings, and supplier-led training programmes.

At this forum the end-user is placed centre stage and their voice is heard loud and clear. Through a series of implementation focused case-studies we bring clarity to the confusion surrounding the basic building blocks of this complex standard, challenge standardisation activity and influence the direction of new product development, to ensure a three-pronged alignment of standards with products and utility needs.

Utilities and suppliers come together in equal numbers and the content-driven programme as well as the networking activities provide a level of insight, mutual understanding and appreciation that is bonding and leads to more rapid new product development and field deployment than previously experienced in this niche.

These programmes are immersive, often exhaustive, and always outcomes focused. Participants tell us that the most useful take-aways include:

1. Deep technical insights – the implementation focused sessions provide a depth of technical information sharing, that allow participants to clearly foresee just how technology choices will impact on implementation and operational efficiency, well in advance of investment decisions being made and deployment action being taken

2. Extensive benchmarking – hearing from 14-20 utilities over a two-day timescale provides an immersive experience with a depth and breadth of real-world experiences that significantly enhances business plans, bringing new concepts to life and driving board approval with speed

3. Influencing standardisation – when direct working group participation is not an option our programmes provide the perfect opportunity to have the end-user voice heard and their influence felt through an indirect but highly effective channel for driving standardisation progress in favour of end-user needs

4. Influencing technology innovation – far from simply being on the receiving end of technology innovations, our forums provide the opportunity for end-users to influence the direction of new product development and ensure their ongoing fit with real-life techno-commercial needs

5. Forming partnerships and alliances – through a series of facilitated networking activities we enable participants to get to know potential partners in great depth and on multiple levels, providing a sound spring board for post-event relationship building

The participants’ views:

“The conference has really expanded my knowledge of IEC 61850 which will allow me to inform my colleagues and assist our DNO/DSO based approach to outlining our smart network strategy.” Sean Stack, Substation Standard Engineer at UK Power Networks

“IEC 61850 Europe helped me understand all the elements of 61850 across the board. The workshop was extremely useful on a technical level with the conference filling in the gaps on how to use it.” Andy Ward, Technology Projects Manager at Northern Power Grid

“A very useful time, open exchange of ideas and information. Excellent real-world presentations.” Allan Wales, Distribution Systems Specialist at SP Energy Networks

How to get involved:

For this year’s IEC 61850 Global 2018 forum we are inviting a more global participation, through the speaker line-up, audience participation, and in the exhibition area. To find out how you can be involved in this or any other Smart Grid Forums event, contact: Mandana White, Director at Smart Grid Forums, on


Topics: CEO Blog