CPS Energy interim CEO Paula Gold-Williams at the January 2016 CPS Energy Board. Photo by Scott Ball.
CPS Energy CEO Paula Gold-Williams Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

CPS Energy has officially reengaged the help of Korn Ferry, the international head hunter firm, in its search for a new CEO. The public utility’s board of trustees gathered for the regularly scheduled meeting on Monday to discuss, among other things, the compensation package, contract, scorecard and general CEO selection process after a lone, unnamed finalist dropped out of consideration last week.

“(The previous candidate) was not the fit that we hoped it would be,” said CPS Energy board Chair Ed Kelley after the meeting. “I guess we do hit the reset button.”

The Korn Ferry team is now compiling a list of possible candidates for the board’s search committee, comprised of Kelley and Vice Chair Derrick Howard, to review.

They’re looking for a new batch of internal and external resumes to consider, Kelley said. While they did take a second look at the seven other candidates interviewed during the first process, he said it was unlikely that they’ll see themselves on the list again.

The board’s conversation remained in executive session, which is closed to the public for confidential strategy discussions. It was also an opportunity to formally introduce the process to the newest board member, local attorney John Steen. Monday was Steen’s first meeting as the northeast service quadrant representative. Steen, a former Texas Secretary of State (2012-2014), has a long resume of volunteerism and service at the local and state level.

CPS Energy board members Derrick Howard (left) and John Steen listen to a program update from staff. Photo by Vincent McDonald for CPS Energy.
CPS Energy board members Derrick Howard (left) and John Steen listen to a program update from staff. Photo by Vincent McDonald for CPS Energy.

Mayor Ivy Taylor has said that the main problem with the last candidate was that he wanted more money than the public utility could afford.

The search was down to one in December last year, just two months after former CEO Doyle Beneby left on Oct. 31. to lead New Generation Power International (NGPI), a private, international renewable energy company based in Chicago.

Korn Ferry was the firm that found Beneby, Kelley noted, “who is one of the finest executives in the utility field.”

While it’s important to get the position filled – CPS Energy is after all the largest municipally-owned gas and electric utility in the U.S. – Kelley spoke to the significance of the board taking their time and selecting the right person for the job. He said he would rather go on a lot of “dates” than have to get a divorce.

And besides, he added, interim CEO Paula Gold-Williams is doing “an excellent job. It’s not like if we don’t get it filled by a certain time something bad is going to happen.”

Group Executive Vice President and Chief Delivery Officer Jelynne LeBlanc-Burley’s last day at CPS Energy was last week and there is no current effort to find a replacement, said CPS Energy spokesman Paul Flaningan. Instead, the Vice President of Community Engagement Maria Garcia and Vice President of Customer Engagement and Care Phyllis Batson are reporting directly to Gold-Williams.

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*Top image: CPS Energy interim CEO Paula Gold-Williams at the January 2016 CPS Energy Board.  Photo by Scott Ball.

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Iris Dimmick

Iris Dimmick

Senior reporter Iris Dimmick covers City Hall, politics, development, and more. Contact her at iris@sareport.org