Willamette MBA Alumni Spotlight: Kyle Roadman

by Jennifer Bush,

"I had really fantastic mentors at Tektronix, one of whom was an Atkinson alum. That connection was crucial and alone made the decision to go to Willamette absolutely worthwhile.”

In 2010, Roadman was looking for a position in the Eugene, Oregon area when he came upon an opening at Emerald People’s Utility District (EPUD), a public utility district in Oregon. “The job was for a financial analyst, but there was room to grow. Shortly after I started at Emerald, I was able to take on a larger role.” Despite not having a background in energy when he started, Roadman has quickly learned the in and outs of utilities as a power resources manager.

Kyle Roadman.jpgRoadman began his career in the software industry, where he worked as an engineer for several years before starting his MBA at Atkinson and graduating in 2006. Roadman then began a career in finance at Tektronix, which he credits in part to Atkinson. “Career Management had a couple of employers come to campus and one of them was Tektronix. I applied for an internship and worked there over the summer…I ended up taking a full-time position while I was still in school. I had really fantastic mentors [at Tektronix], one of whom was an Atkinson alum. That connection was crucial and alone made the decision to go to Willamette absolutely worthwhile.” 

Managing resources for the future

Deciding to move to Eugene with his wife in 2008 to be closer to family, Roadman took a position at Yogi Tea as a Financial Analyst and Controller. After an acquisition, Roadman saw the opening at EPUD, where he currently works on wholesale power contracting and risk management. “We have a unique relationship with our power provider, the Bonneville Power Administration. We have to manage our loads and resources—how much our customers are using versus how much power we have available to provide to them.” Roadman spends much of his time on financial derivative contracts, setting up policy, and performing trades and purchases for long-term energy needs. These contracts often look 36 months into the future.

Looking towards the future is something that Roadman does best. In his time at EPUD, he has led the development of the GREEN Grant Program. The project, funded by EPUD customers who want to support renewable energy projects, gives a $40,000 grant annually to a  not-for-profit partner. 

Customer centricity at EPUD

Roadman has also been involved in EPUD’s first strategic plan. Despite having a background in finance, Roadman finds having a customer-centric vision to be crucial for EPUD. “There’s a lot more consumer choice being introduced to the industry. Solar power and consumer storage are beginning to become cost effective. At the same time, you have consumers that are wanting information, more resources, and the ability to interact with us. We had to adapt to that."

Roadman’s marketing focus in his current role can be traced back to one of the most influential classes he took at Willamette, Marketing Strategy with Debra Ringold. “I didn’t have a lot of interest [in marketing] until I took her class. Marketing is such a core part of any business endeavor.” Roadman also credits Dean Michael Hand’s Business Forecasting course. “It was very valuable to learn forecasting and something I use every single day. The concepts and the way of thinking was really important.”

Roadman’s efforts have not gone without recognition. In 2017, he received the Robert E. Roundtree Rising Star Award granted by the American Public Power Association and in 2018, EPUD was awarded the American Public Power Association’s E.F. Scattergood System Achievement Award for the second time.  

Looking ahead and staying relevant as a service provider

Roadman says he’s now looking towards electric vehicles. In the future, EPUD hopes to incentivize customers to utilize electric vehicles through discounts on their bills. “A lot of times we’ll have surplus energy overnight…so we’re looking at rates that change based on the time of the day.” Roadman says customers who take advantage of this potential system by charging their electric vehicles overnight would see a discount in their utility bill. “The crux of our strategic plan was to be a better partner with customers and have them look at us as a service provider as opposed to just a product provider…we think that this is the position that will keep us relevant into the future.”

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