Mitch Stevenson is our Vegetation Manager here at Battle River Power Coop. He has a diploma in Electrical Technology from Algonquin College in Ottawa, ON, is an I.S.A Certified Arborist, U.V.M.A.A Certified Utility Arborist and is also a graduate of the Davey Institute of Tree Sciences in Kent, Ohio. Mitch has been working in the Utilities Vegetation Management industry for over 13 years. During that time, he has worked with over 6 different utilities, all over Canada. He has shared with us his experience of being a Utility Vegetation Manager:
As a Utility Vegetation Manager, what are your responsibilities?
Overall, managing the clearing and maintenance of trees and other vegetation around utility network assets. The position oversees the execution of the vegetation management program to achieve safety and reliability for the network, while meeting financial objectives. Also, to ensure compliance with federal, provincial and local regulations.
Is the role primarily office or field based?
Every day is different. Sometimes you are in the field, patrolling line or helping our internal crew on large jobs. Other days you are visiting with customers, listening to their concerns about trees trimmed around the power lines. Crew visits, audits, quality control, and customer notification are other responsibilities that are part of the job. A fair amount of time is also spent in the office reviewing budgets, planning trim cycles, developing packages, and making sure safety stays at the forefront of the team.
What would a typical day look like?
Generally, a combination of contract management, reporting on activity and project progress as well as tracking and monitoring of department goals. The close management of resources and budget planning is a huge part of the job.
Another aspect is responding to issues and queries relating to vegetation practices and providing technical expertise related to rights-of-way maintenance, arboricultural practices, and integrated vegetation management programs.
The role also involves supporting the development, evaluation and implementation of new methods and industry practices. Innovation is definitely key.
Biggest challenges facing a vegetation manager?
Ensuring compliance, while staying in budget, is probably the number one challenge.
It is a very busy job; oftentimes with several conflicting priorities pulling you in different directions. Time management is extremely important with competing demands.
What would make the job of a vegetation manager easier?
Advances in technology are always moving the vegetation industry ahead every year. Detailed and comprehensive online data allows more tasks to be completed from the office or remotely. The more we can transition our program into the digital realm, the more efficient it will be for field staff and managers to communicate and access crucial data while on the go.