Executive Interview: Ken Deck (CUEMA)

Ken Deck is currently serving as the Executive Director for the California Utility Executive Management Association. In addition to his role at CUEMA, he has been the General Manager for the Rowland Water District for the past eleven years. As the General Manager for the Rowland Water District, Deck manages district operations to provide customers with a safe and reliable water supply. He also provides professional and technical staff support, and assistance to the Board; coordinates all District activities with Federal, State, County, local and private agencies.

1.Tell us about your position at CUEMA and some of your roles and responsibilities?Ken Deck

I am the Executive Director for the California Utility Executive Management Association. CUEMA is a non-profit organization for water utility professionals, their supporters and associates working in the state of California. CUEMA provides a supportive, career-building network that bolsters productivity and strengthens leadership within its membership. As Executive Director for CUEMA, I am responsible for preparing the agenda for all Board of Director Meetings and Executive Committee conference calls. I oversee membership record maintenance, membership renewals, and all financial transactions. I am also responsible for coordinating arrangements for our various events. These arrangements include securing the conference location, setting up off-site dinners, coordinating conference meals, room setup, and audio/visual requirements. I am also in-charge of coordinating our annual summit golf tournament.

2. Explain some of your past work experience and how it has helped you in your current roles?

Between my roles in the US Navy, General Manager in the water industry and being on the board of several professional organizations for the past 40 years, I have been able to accumulate significant traits that have allowed me to be successful in all of my positions. The discipline I learned from the Navy and the patience from the water industry has helped contribute to my success. They have also helped me hone in on my passion for the water industry.

3. Why does CUEMA exist?

CUEMA exists to address the day-to-day challenges, and the ever-changing regulatory environment that water & waste executives currently face. The summits we host provide an educational opportunity for these executives to learn, grow, network and essentially share ideas and success stories with fellow officials. Additionally, we always make a concerted effort to provide programs that are unique and original.

4. Why did you choose to get involved?

I am not sure; I think I should have my head examined.
To be honest though, I actually enjoy the challenges of helping an organization like CUEMA grow and develop. An organization like CUEMA provides an outlet for it’s member to gain access to some of the best information available, and when our members benefit so does the entire industry.

5. How are you able to contribute ideas, and what have you learned from the organization?

As a General Manager I deal with the same day-to-day issues as other industry executives. I am able to take these issues and create unique, current, and pressing topics for the summits. I think the biggest thing I have learned from the organization is patience. The majority of the CUEMA board is General Managers from different water districts, and most of the time we all have different opinions. The trick is to figure out what works and doesn’t work for the organization and the individual Districts themselves. And that alone forces us to put our own opinions aside, become one cohesive group and create a solution for our communities.

6. How is it helping you be a better GM for Rowland Water District?

The experience of managing a statewide organization has  enhanced my management skills to better understand and support my own elected Board.  The role allows me to see the macro side of things statewide and helps me implement new strategies on a micro level within my own District. Not to mention the exposure has helped me professionally as well.

7. What are your personal hobbies outside of work?

There are very few days when I am not working, either attending district activities, serving on a board, or working at the Rowland Water District. However, when I do get a day off I like to spend time with my friends and family. I particularly enjoy camping with my wife, playing golf and fishing.