Rural Water - Quarter 2, 2016 - (Page 23)

eDuCatION aND a Career IN water o Credential from water u Helps land the Job BY MarY lOu JaY Over the course of 26 years, Gregory Orsini has worked his way up to the top of the career ladder at California's McKinleyville Community Services District. He attributes his success to hard work and some luck - being in the right place at the right time. But Orsini has also taken another important step. "Through the whole process, one thing I continued to do for myself was education and getting the certifications necessary for me to get those better jobs," he said. He believes that his most recent accreditation - the Utility Management Certification from NRWA's Water University - was a contributing factor in his selection as general manager of MCSD. "The certification was the centerpiece of my upper management education, because I didn't have the engineering degree or business degree that other people might have," he said. Orsini started his career in 1990 at MCSD in the organization's lowest-paying position - utility worker step 1. But he took the job because he saw the opportunity. "In the area of the country we live in, work is often seasonal and I had a young family. My concerns with being able to afford health care and things like that were very real," he said. A 2,000-hour a year job that provided such benefits and offered opportunities for growth was attractive. Fast forward almost two decades, and Orsini was serving as operations director at MCSD. In November 2012, the general manager died suddenly of a heart attack. The MCSD board asked Orsini to serve as interim manager, but wanted to open the application process for the permanent position to others as well. Fortunately, Orsini had already taken the initiative earlier in 2012 to get his UMC certification. "I was looking for ways to continue my education, and when I saw that California Rural Water Association was offering this course, I thought it would help me with what I was doing then," he said. Since he didn't have the college degree, he believed the certification would also be a good addition to his resume. The three-day class in Sacramento was extensive and challenging, Orsini said. "Most things come pretty easily to me, but for this course, I had to take really good notes and study hard to be able to pass the test." After the eight hours of classes concluded at the end of each day, Orsini would go back to his hotel room and go over all of the questions in the study guide so he'd be prepared. The Water U class for the UMC included a lot of detail and covered a multitude of subjects. "It's unique in that it's very fast-paced," Orsini said. He has taken the class and the test twice, since the UMC certification must be renewed every three years. Orsini said the instructor from the California Rural Water Association who taught the class was excellent each time, since they had backgrounds in water operations and in management. Orsini received the permanent appointment as MCSD's general manger in April 2013. Gaining valuable information Before taking the UMC class through Water U, water and sewer managers must complete a questionnaire to ensure that they have sufficient experience and certifications to qualify for the program. The three-day classes are offered through online webinars and at various locations throughout the country by state rural water associations. The UMC curriculum includes sections on: * Financial sustainability and capacity development (including accounting, financial reporting, rate setting and asset management) * Technical sustainability and capacity development (including current laws and regulations, water resources management, and water and wastewater operations) * Managerial sustainability and capacity development (including human resource management, the governing body, customer service, emergency preparedness and public relations and public policy) Water U also offers an opportunity to earn CEUs/CECs with classes that cover topics in operations, technical and engineering; in source water protection; in regulations; in utility management; and in state association board training. (For a complete listing and for more information about course dates and locations, go to Orsini said that he would definitely recommend the UMC course to anyone who wanted to become a general manager of a water and/or sewage facility and had no previous experience in that position. The training is different than any other he has done-and he keeps his eyes open for good educational opportunities. "For most people in executive management positions, time is at a premium. Once you get to a certain level of your job, you sit through trainings and you think that the time could have been better spent at your desk or that you could have taught the class yourself," Orsini said. "But when I first took the UMC class, it was one of the very few times that I thought about how valuable the information in the class was," he said. ‚óŹ rural water 23

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Water - Quarter 2, 2016

From the President
Careers in Rural Water
Water University
Credential from Water U Helps Land the Job
Lessons in Water
Finance: Tracking Down Non-Revenue Water
Technology: GIS and the 5 Ws
Emergency Management: Drought to Flood: Oklahoma
A Day in the Life of a Circuit Rider
Four Key Benefits to Incorporating Cellular Technology into Your Utility Management System
The WaterPro Online Community
Regulatory Update
Throwing My Loop
Index to Advertisers/
From the CEO

Rural Water - Quarter 2, 2016