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Diversity/Careers in Engineering & Information Technology



February/March 2010

Diversity/Careers February/March 2010 Issue

D/C and Web 2.0
Hispanic engineers
Healthcare IT
Military vets
ONR supports STEM

Tech MBEs
NMSDC in New Orleans
News & Views
Regional roundup
Supplier diversity

Diversity in action
News & Views

PHD Project Walgreens
Bonneville Power CNA
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Pratt & Whitney

Diversity In Action

TVA seeks engineers & IT folks & focuses on diversity

The authority likes to hire engineers with five years industrial experience or more. It expects to bring in 200 engineers plus IT pros this year

Vyrone Cravanas, senior manager of diversity and inclusion: “At TVA you’re part of a community of caring.”After “re-energizing” its diversity initiatives in 2008, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has broadened its support for diversity in its recruitment strategies, says Vyrone Cravanas, senior manager of diversity and inclusion. This year the group plans to roll out a scorecard on all its efforts.

The scorecard measures sponsorship and support of employee resource groups by members of TVA’s executive council; the formal mentoring program for top-performing diverse employees; and the progress of a new inclusion staffing index and a diversity leadership incentive award program. Such measures are needed more than ever at TVA, since a third of its workforce will be retirement-eligible in the next five to seven years, Cravanas says.

Susan Stout, senior HR manager: TVA hires “a lot of engineers;” many are MEs and EEs in various specialties.Besides its formal mentoring program, TVA is establishing an informal mentoring network through its employee resource groups. “Champions” from each group will mentor younger employees. The authority is also concentrating on succession planning: opportunities will abound for the best and brightest, Cravanas says.

The TVA, a federal corporation, is the nation’s largest public power company. It provides electricity to nearly nine million people. Congress created the TVA in 1933
to reduce flood damage, improve navigation on the Tennessee River, provide electric power and promote agricultural and industrial development in the region.

Today the authority provides wholesale electric power
to 158 municipal and cooperative power distributors. Its service area includes almost all of Tennessee and parts of Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

TVA hires “a lot of engineers” in the operating organization, says Susan Stout, senior HR manager in the shared resources department. Many are MEs and EEs, working in a variety of specialties.

For example, a simulator engineer may be involved in training; a risk engineer looks at the probability of failures and the risk involved with certain equipment and processes. Instrumentation engineers handle controls.

TVA also hires environmental engineers who may work in fossil fuel or nuclear generation, or on the impact the river system has as it relates to generating electricity, Stout says.

On the IT side, TVA is bringing in programmer analysts with Oracle skills and experience in cyber security. “There will be application development work in that area, so we need analysts and developers, as well as people with a blend of good IT skills to support our other organizations.”

For many of its engineering positions, TVA likes a minimum of five years’ experience; eight to ten years is better still. Stout notes that some industrial experience segues nicely into TVA’s work: automotive manufacturing, for example, where the applicants are likely to be from a company similar in size to TVA, or from a company like GE or Westinghouse where they would be involved with similar equipment.

For 2010 TVA expects to hire about 200 engineers; if a new facility opens as planned more will be needed. In the IT area Stout projects more than fifty new hires. Overall the company averages 800 to 1,000 new hires annually.

Baby boomer retirements have required TVA to focus on experienced hiring. But the authority also has a robust intern program for some 200 students a year. In general, a new college grad is hired for every experienced hire.

To recruit diverse candidates, TVA works with multicultural organizations at colleges and attends conventions and job fairs put on by NSBE, SWE, SHPE and Latinos for Hire on the national, regional and local levels. The authority also partners with Tuskegee University and other HBCUs. New recruits spend a week learning about individual development programs, diversity awareness policies, safety policies and more.

TVA’s “nuclear young generation” employee resource group networks with young nuclear pros at other companies. The authority has a dedicated military recruiter who looks for diverse candidates, for vets with disabilities through the “helmets to hardhats” program, and works
with the Veterans Tennessee Engineering Program.

Looking down the pipeline, TVA has a “partner in education” program for middle and high school students, and its website gives younger students an overview, too, Cravanas says.

Employee resource groups (ERGs) at TVA began several years ago and are about to expand. There will be a multi-generational group, a new employee network and a re-energized group that focuses on people with disabilities and people who care for them, Cravanas says. There are also groups for data processors, managers, chemists and ChEs, Native Americans, veterans, Asian and Pacific Islanders, a special action council and branches of Federally Employed Women and SWE.

Some employees work from home, particularly those with disabilities. TVA also offers an employee assistance program.

Finally, TVA folks are heavily involved in the community, Cravanas notes. Employees have built eight Habitat for Humanity houses in the past six years, and partnered with a rehabilitation services group to put in access ramps for rehab clients. The authority holds a “day of caring” in the fall to support children with disabilities, and when school started last fall TVA employees contributed shoes and school supplies to start needy children off right.

“If you come to work at TVA you’ll be joining a community of caring,” Cravanas concludes
with pride.


Tennessee Valley Authority
Tennessee Valley Authority

Headquarters: Knoxville, TN
Employees: 12,219
Revenues: $10.4 billion
Business: Public wholesale power company

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