ATLANTA (May 29, 2012) – The Smart Grid Executive Forum (SGEF), an exclusive LinkedIn group founded by The McDonnell Group, Inc., surpasses the 4,000-member threshold this month as it enters its fourth year. SGEF is a free, non-commercial forum for the open exchange of ideas, information and news among senior energy technology leaders.
The Forum launched in February 2009, gaining 300 members in the first month and 1,000 by October 2009. "Careful, guided growth has been our goal since the beginning," said McDonnell Group CEO Don McDonnell. "We wanted to cultivate a close community where energy leaders could exchange ideas with a qualified group of peers to debate the forces shaping the modern electric grid."
Stuxnet, Hurricane Irene, and consumer smart meter rights and fears have all been examined in member-led discussions. One notable June 2010 question was "Asking the unaskable: How many of us really believe in smart grid?" It launched 131 replies — thoughtful, 500-1100 word reflections typical of SGEF contributions — from CEOs, PhDs, senior editors and utility executives. A month ago, another hardball question asked, "What is the Achilles heel for distribution smart grid implementation (other than the dollars)?"
"The response has been tremendous," McDonnell said. "The quality of the discussions and the range of topics reflect a desire to exchange ideas among the executives who make up our core group."
The Forum's influence has been subtle, yet powerful from the start. Writers and editors from key industry trade journals have frequently cited its discussions, noting that they found evidence of trends on the minds of energy leaders based on discussions there. Despite the at-times-impassioned discussions, the group remains respectful of its bond. Comments made in the forum have not been quoted without permission; and members follow the "no solicitation" policy.
Today, 71 percent of SGEF members are senior executives, CEOs, VPs, directors, or managers from around the world, according to LinkedIn demographics. "We saw a need for collaboration and discussion among those in the energy industry who may be working at locations on opposite sides of the country (or the globe) yet facing similar challenges and opportunities," McDonnell said. The majority of SGEF members identify themselves as utility personnel (44 percent). Computer technology and IT workers are the second largest group at 11 percent. Oil and energy, electricity, and a variety of management fields make up the remaining segments.
The SGEF continues to grow as a closed/member, qualification-verified community with only one in four applicants meeting the membership requirements on review. One of SGEF's solutions to managing growth has been to create sub groups for particular topics of interest, such as the Smart Grid Consumer Experience, which has 282 members.
About The McDonnell Group, Inc.
The McDonnell Group delivers a unique trilogy of energy and technology focused marketing services: Research, Strategy, and Public Relations. We provide expert insight and specialized knowledge — of the people, the trends, and the technologies unique to the utility and enterprise software markets. With our Focus on Practical Methods™, we work closely with your executive team to deliver strategy and advisory services, research-based marketing, and public relations to help you grow and guide your business in a way few can match. www.themcdonnellgroup.com.