Special knowledge and the high art of learning

20.04.2020

Back in ancient Greece, the great Plato dreamed of “tools which would teach men their own use”. After all, every hammer is only as good as its user – and vice versa! The provision of tailored information for users, the imparting of knowledge and the training of skills were therefore already central components in the range of today’s TSCNET Services when it was launched almost seven years ago. Our HR & Development Manager Aanchal Sood from the Corporate Services unit oversees all online and offline offerings of the TSCNET Academy. Especially the user seminars and trainings are also closely connected with Enes Halilovic, Lead Operations Manager in the Service Operations unit. He is not only “a man of the first hour” at TSCNET Services and has helped to develop the company and most of the services, but above all he has played a major role in the development and implementation of the training offers. We have met the man, who has been called “Doctor Grid” a few times in recognition, for an interview.

Where does your passion for this important topic come from?

I owe my passion for the training world to two factors: Character and experience. Character, because I am a person who loves to share and pass on knowledge, especially to the younger generation. In my eyes, when knowledge is being passed on and merged with innovative ideas from those who receive it, great positive changes come about. Experience, because I was actively involved in providing trainings at my previous job at ELES, the Slovenian transmission system operator, and learnt about its strong importance for a company’s long-term success.

What role does training and educational activities play at TSCNET Services?

As we started, we first organised only internal trainings, because we were group of individuals with vastly different level of experience and we wanted to bring all operational staff to the required knowledge level. Afterwards we started also offering trainings for customers, and following their needs, the product trainings developed through time to three various levels. To bring TSCNET closer to the customers, we first organised Starter Training, presenting the whole TSC idea and TSCNET vision, goals, and service portfolio. Training was suitable for new employees of both, TSOs and TSCNET.

Does that happen here in the Munich offices? The technical facilities are ideal …

That’s true, but today this training takes place mainly online, because this way every user can go at his own pace, independent of time and place, and, if desired, team up with colleagues. It could not be more flexible.

That makes sense. What about the second level?

Well, on request of our customers, we introduced practical AMICA Features training, where we inform the users, i.e. the employees of our customers who work with it, about the various functions that are constantly being expanded. AMICA stands for Advanced Multisite Integral Congestion Assessment and is a main tool for the security assessment of power grid operation for TSOs in the TSO Security Cooperation initiative. Here, training is primarily about interaction and practical experience. For this reason, it takes place in person in a conventional classroom training. AMICA is constantly being developed and therefore the training programme, material and duration are adapted accordingly.

And finally, what is number three?

That is the so-called operational simulation. To make sure that the acquired knowledge can be applied in the right way, the handling of problems and their effective and efficient solution is crucial. There are two kinds of trainings in this level. Some are organised as online courses, but with live participation, when users interact with each other online from their home TSOs, and together they tackle simulated real-life problems to better understand how the various tools work and how they are most useful to them. The other one is organised as a workshop, when representatives from TSOs in specific region meet physically in TSCNET premises and work together as a team to work out the solutions to the simulated extraordinary operational situation.

What components must a good training portfolio have in your eyes?

Well, it conveys everything that is necessary to be able to take on and fulfil tasks. This also includes understanding the employer or partner company. But it also requires so-called soft skills – from communication and coordination to efficient work and IT tools. Lastly, product training for customers is key. It is great if there are innovative technologies and knowledge, but it’s far better if the user has the ability to really make use of them. It also lays the foundation for fruitful exchange – a common understanding as a prerequisite for great improvements.

How would you see the current range of professional training courses?

Our company is growing each and every year, our services are becoming more and more complex, and our industry is also evolving in seven-league boots. In this demanding situation we have managed to also expand our training and education programme in many exciting new directions. And we have also kept on breaking new ground. The best thing from my point of view is that we are still as committed to continuously improving our services as we were at the beginning.

So, what do you actually do when you develop a new training or course?

The basic principle is always the same: the needs of the participants, that is the users and employees. First, we identify the demands and wishes, then we collect material. Once we have enough, we decide on the format, including whether e-learning is suitable. We put ourselves in the position of the participants and estimate the time required for the individual aspects. Then we plan and organise. This takes between two and three months for small modules and up to six months for larger ones. During this time, we accomplish a variety of milestones, the main elements and also the right trainer.

Is it different with online courses?

For online courses, we collaborate with a specialised partner who has extensive experience in creating e-learning courses. We provide the ideas and content, and the specialists visualise them or create multimedia animations. In our experience, an online training course should be between 22 and 40 minutes long in order to achieve optimal effect. In a multi-stage process, we revise all content until the quality meets our high expectations. Only then do we release a course module.

How can the success of a training course be measured?

That depends on the training format and has also changed over time. Since the beginning we collected the feedback of the participants after each training was finished and asked them to evaluate different criteria such as room quality, material, IT equipment, trainers, etc. We collected the different points that the participants gave us in each of these categories to see where we stand. If we got more than 7 points, we considered the training a success.

Have you managed to achieve this goal sometimes?

Fortunately, the lowest overall number we ever achieved was 7.7! But nowadays you can measure success also directly, for example with a little quiz at the end of each module. The participant then knows immediately whether he or she has understood the content or not. And we know right away! Furthermore, occasionally the feedback on e-learning modules is collected from the customers and based on the feedback, the recent version is prepared to maintain the high quality.

How do Covid-19 and the coronavirus pandemic affect the trainings offered?

Unfortunately, a lot! We had to cancel and postpone several sessions already. This is really a pity, but we are not letting ourselves be beaten and are concentrating on turning these obstacles into opportunities. We can count ourselves lucky that we already have an established and proven e-learning platform. A good example is the MRA module, i.e. for Multilateral Remedial Actions. It has been an immense learning experience for both participants and for us. Or the GSK module on Generation Shift Key – it is exemplary for a high-quality, concise learning product. Or our Grid Repository Training, which presents various challenges and prospects of our sector. By summer 2020, all TSC TSOs will be presented with their respective modules.

One question to conclude: Which things would you like to change and improve in the future?

As I have more and more management tasks to take on now, an important task is quite banal – the search for a successor. Apart from that, it is primarily a matter of expanding technology and IT. On the one hand this means such simple things as enough data transfer capacity, especially in times like these, but on the other hand it also means new methods and functions. The corona virus “only” puts more pressure here. All in all, I am not afraid of the challenges. On the contrary: I am excited about the new approaches that will emerge. I am immensely proud to have been part of this exciting journey so far, and look forward to being one of the shapers and pacemakers of what the future holds.

Many thanks for the interview, Enes!

To enable customers to make the most of the RSC’s services, a wide range of training and courses is available at the TSCNET Academy

Linkup
> Visit TSCNET Academy log-in page (html)

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Consultation on risk preparedness regulation

09.07.2019

The European Parliament adopted the “Clean Energy for All Europeans Package” (CEP) on 26 March 2019, which was then formally approved by the relevant EU ministers. On 4 July, the CEP finally came into force, introducing new laws on EU electricity trading, including the “Regulation 2019/941 on risk-preparedness in the electricity sector”. This Regulation requires the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) to develop the methodology to identify regional scenarios for electricity crises within six months of its implementation.

ENTSO-E has now prepared proposals for the “Methodology for identification of electricity crisis scenarios at a regional level” and the “Methodology for short term and seasonal adequacy assessment”. In order to receive input from stakeholders, ENTSO-E has launched a public consultation on these methodology propositions. The consultation is open until 8 October 2019 and ENTSO-E will also host a webinar on the risk preparedness methodologies on 5 September from 10 a.m. to 12 noon.

ENTSO-E opens consultation on EU Risk Preparedness Regulation

Linkup
> See ENTSO-E press release (html)
> Direct access to ENTSO-E consultation (html)
> Open webinar registration site (html)
> See EU Regulation at EUR-Lex (html)

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New hires: Heroic rendezvous in Service Operations

10.05.2019

TSCNET Services wins two new additions to its Service Operations business unit. One of them is Jorge Alves. The 33-year-old Portuguese with a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering with a major in Power Systems from the University of Porto previously worked as a High Voltage Network Operator at EDP Distribuição. His wife went to Germany for her doctorate as a biologist. When their son was born, Jorge followed his wife to the north and applied as Operations Manager to TSCNET. His greatest hobby is surfing, and even though the waves there are considerably smaller than on Portugal’s Atlantic coast, he is already eager for the famous river surfing on Munich’s Eisbach. On the one hand, this certainly helps as balance to office work, but on the other it seems to awaken the fighting spirit – Jorge’s superhero counterpart, the famous Silver Surfer, was known for that: “Others may battle with victory in sight – but the Surfer still strives when all hope is gone!”

The other newcomer in the group is Jonas Häusler, a 25-year-old Franconian from Erlangen near Nuremberg with a master’s degree in mathematics and power grid optimisation as his thesis topic. He starts as Junior Operations Manager and wants to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible and complement the team in the further “evolution of the European power system” with his special perspective of a strictly abstract and analytically thinking mathematician. But he has even more knowledge and experience to offer, and that falls under a term that best suits the world of superheroes: Jonas is a true Master of Disaster! As part of his many years of voluntary work for a German aid organisation, he has also worked as an instructor for disaster control units. Although TSCNET and our customers want to avoid catastrophes by all means his expertise is also extremely valuable – professionals agree that there is hardly anything as helpful in avoiding crises as the experience from crises that have already been mastered.

We wish the new members of the team such a good start in our company, that all possible superhero forces can be fully channelled into the European power grid!

Fresh engagements for Service Operations (from the left): Jorge Alves and Jonas Häusler (picture: TSCNET Services)

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New hire: Oscar-worthy move to Service Operations

14.03.2019

When the Academy Awards were ceremoniously given in Hollywood at the end of February, we at TSCNET Services had a relaxed time leaning back: We already had our Oscar. And as the “Roma” director Alfonso Cuarón, probably the most undisputed winner of this year, reminded of his home country Mexico, we were also on the bright side: Mexico indeed is also the birthplace of Oscar F. Muñoz, the new Senior Service Analytics & Quality Manager in our Service Operations unit.

Oscar was born 43 years ago in Mexico City, with officially just under nine million inhabitants one of the world’s largest cities. The connection to electric power was already there: His father was an electrical technician, and at the age of twelve Oscar chose electricity as a school subject. After graduating from the Instituto Politécnico Nacional with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and energy systems, he went to the USA to earn his Master of Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After about two and a half years as an electrical design engineer and then as a bids & proposals engineer for medium and low voltage equipment, Oscar worked for 16 years in the development of software for use in the analysis, simulation and visualisation of electrical networks, first in the USA, then in Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg.

At the end of 2018, Oscar signed up for TSCNET Services. “I was interested in a career transition from conceiving and implementing software tools for power systems to the utilisation of such software in direct applications within the environment of transmission system operators,” he explains. In Munich, his ambitious goal is to combine his education, his skills, and his many years of experience to contribute to the improvement and development of processes and tools for the analysis and visualisation of complex large-scale power systems. Hollywood, please make a note of this – it sounds like some award-winning deeds again.

Oscar F. Muñoz is the new Senior Service Analytics & Quality Manager in the Service Operations unit

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A new way of learning: TSCNET Academy!

03.10.2017

Sharing knowledge and experience with our customers is an essential objective of TSCNET Services and might easily be considered as one of the cornerstones of TSCNET’s mission. Our customers have diverging individual interests and aspirations, and a corresponding educational technology has to comply with these client requirements. A fitting tool had to be created and this is how our e-learning project was born!

Anywhere, anytime learning
At TSCNET we have decided to develop an e-learning programme providing individualised professional training and expert support. While e-learning can essentially be understood as network-enabled transfer of knowledge and skills, a specified e-learning solution corresponding with the high demands of TSCNET has to guarantee appealing training possibilities available to everyone, independent of time and place. Thus, the educational technology of TSCNET utilises multiple strategies for imparting knowledge in an individual manner to varied interested parties.

We started working on the e-learning project in early 2017. Initially, the focus lies on providing interactive training courses by means of a time and location-independent platform that is available for a large audience. In doing so, we follow the principles of blended learning and have created an education programme combining online digital media with traditional teaching methods. Learning has never been easier.

Take a look around TSCNET Academy!
Our e-learning solution has been designed for 300 TSC users from our member TSOs and for TSCNET employees. The project’s main component is a versatile Learning Management System. The first e-learning course with which the system is equipped deals with the MRA procedure. This 60-minute course familiarises our users with the complete MRA procedure by allowing them to carry out simulations and do-it-yourself exercises. And what is the most important –  everyone can learn at his own pace! The second e-learning course on GSK functionality is already in development. It is foreseen to be launched in early December of 2017.

Apart from being a training tool for our customers, the e-learning platform is destined to sustain TSCNET’s organisation, by supporting internal trainings for our employees, e.g. exercises on office safety and ISMS procedures. Feel free to visit and experience our TSCNET Academy!

> Visit TSCNET Academy e-learning platform (html)

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Effectiveness in project management

15.06.2017

Strengthening the individual performance to contribute to an organisation’s common goals – with this idea in mind, five employees of TSCNET Services recently have taken part in a two-day PRINCE2 Foundation course. PRINCE2, an acronym for PRojects IN Controlled Environments, is the name of a widely used de facto process-based method for effective project management, emphasising the power of clear and efficient communication. It applies to all types of projects. The course with a very international atmosphere was designed to get a firm understanding of how to successfully manage projects and control change on them. It took place in the heart of Munich, Germany, and was followed by the certificate exam for all five delegates.

To fully meet the requirements as a European Regional Security Coordinator (RSC), TSCNET Services usually runs several projects in parallel on a continuous basis. Many of them are highly complex and technically very challenging. They all must be managed in time, within budget, and at the required high level of quality within the TSCNET project management framework. As Denis Waitley, the American motivational speaker, writer and consultant, said: “Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised.”

Martin Mach, Data Quality Manager at TSCNET, has participated in the course and passed the exam. “Getting a detailed overview of all the PRINCE2 principles, processes and themes helps us to organise resources, manage costs and quality, and cope with project risks,” he says. With him and his four co-workers being in the vanguard, project management best practices will redound to the benefit of the whole company. A PRINCE ennobles all the clan …

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Up to speed with project management

08.04.2016

Today, nearly all types of businesses require employees with excellent project management skills to keep various projects on track and to meet time, budget, and quality requirements. Focusing on operational excellence in 2016, TSCNET Services sets great store by the employees’ knowledge in project management, and engaged an external consultancy for a two-day training for current and future project managers to learn and train modern project management approaches and methodologies.

“At TSCNET, the high complexity of projects with various needs from different shareholders and the degree of cultural diversity within them, necessitate extra accurate and comprehensive planning, structuring and steering of projects,” says Emanuel Kofler, Project Management Officer at our company. Predrag Vujovic, Capacity Calculation Operations Manager at TSCNET, emphasises another aspect: “The training helped us to establish standards for project management activities and practices.” All participants affirmed that the two days flagged up the biggest challenges and showed how to address them.

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