Industry Professionals Building Leadership Skills

The Emerging Leaders program lays a foundation for effective communication.

By Mike Price

NGWA’s 2017 ELA class, the largest and most diverse class the Association has sent to the conference.

As the water well industry looks to the future generation for continued success, proper leadership training is needed.

I experienced this training firsthand, serving as liaison for the National Ground Water Association during the 2017 Emerging Leaders Alliance program last November in Falls Church, Virginia. Twelve industry professionals, the largest and most diverse class NGWA has sent to the conference, took part in career-training sessions led by experts on the subject matter.

Emerging Leaders, which is in its 11th year in 2018, is designed by several membership associations to develop leadership skills, strengthen professional careers, and build the involvement of entry- and mid-level executives over a four-day period.

Pierce Kiltoff, vice president of JKA Well Drilling & Pumps in Monroe, Washington, appreciated how the presenters tied all the loose ends together following the program’s first day. Kiltoff recommends the ELA program for anyone looking at managing a business, especially those who are young and are transitioning from a technical/hands-on role to a managerial role.

“I think that I’m in a perfect position in my career to make this useful,” Kiltoff says. “I’m past the point of knowing everything and into that part of my life where I’m not sure I know anything. I’m actively pursuing self-learning on emotional intelligence, starting to work on classes to teach at Washington State Ground Water Association events, and am going to focus on a work-life balance that I hope results in many more years of productivity in this field.”

The ELA program is unique in that attendees learn from a variety of sources: experts presenting the subject matter, other attendees from the water well industry representing NGWA, and other professionals from assorted backgrounds—including those in industry, academia, and governmental agencies.

Networking and learning from one another is nothing new to professionals in the water well industry, but the ELA program offers a social style and versatility evaluation for you to send to those who know you to complete beforehand. Based on the responses, an in-depth, seven-page evaluation is born, and you receive guidance from the ELA presenters on what to make of it. Speaking personally, gaining a better understanding of one’s self is invaluable in learning how to be a better overall employee and communicator.

“This training helped me recognize who I am, not only within my company but with my family, friends, and faith,” says Krista Brown, geologist at Arcadis U.S. Inc. in Akron, Ohio. “In learning more about my social style and emotional intelligence, I hope to better convey my thoughts and actions as an indispensable leader within my company. In just the four short days of the conference, I have created many life-long friendships and peers who I will likely collaborate with in the future.

“We have all faced challenges in our industries, and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to discuss an array of different challenges with those in similar situations to myself.”

Learn More
NGWA once again is partnering with Roscoe Moss Co., a member manufacturer of well screen, casing, and other well products, to sponsor eight complimentary tuition registrations to the 2018 Emerging Leaders program. Learn more about the 2018 ELA program and how to register.

NGWA President David Henrich, CWD/PI, CVCLD, vice president of Bergerson-Caswell Inc. in Maple Plain, Minnesota, still feels the ELA program was one of the best conferences he has attended. Henrich attended in 2015, and his wife, Stacey, who serves as executive assistant, attended in 2017.

“In my opinion, our industry needs more exposure to high level management techniques,” David says. “Although some of the material seems a little farfetched for our industry, like multi-national team management, there are tools in every segment that can be scaled to almost any business. After all, if it’s the best way to do it, it’s up to leaders and managers to figure out how to make it work in their system.”

Two new offerings are on tap for the 2018 ELA program: the five behaviors of a cohesive team and servant leadership. These changes make me wish I’d be returning to ELA, but a new NGWA liaison will be on hand to help coordinate the event. However, I’m grateful to have the conference handbook and social style evaluation to reference from time to time to aid me in being the type of employee I want to be each day.

Mike Price is the senior editor of Water Well Journal. In addition to his WWJ responsibilities, Price produces NGWA’s newsletter and contributes to the Association’s quarterly scientific publication. He can be reached at