The Silicon Review
Founded in 2011, Smart Wires is the leader in grid optimization solutions that leverage its patented modular power flow control technology. Driven by a world-class leadership team with extensive experience in delivering innovative solutions, Smart Wires works with utilities globally to address the unique challenges of the rapidly evolving electric system.
Smart Wires technology was developed by utilities for utilities, led by a consortium of large U.S. utilities at the National Electric Energy Testing Research and Applications Center (NEETRAC). This core group, which included Southern Company and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), defined the vision for the original modular power flow control system.
Currently, the technology is rapidly becoming a part of the utility toolkit as more and more electric utilities explore new ways to mitigate future uncertainties surrounding load and generation, alleviate congestion, improve network utilization and maintain reliable electric service.
The company started its journey with a very successful initial project, an installation of 100 Guardian devices by Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in 2012. This installment was the first deployment of Smart Wires innovative power flow control solutions and a significant step for TVA as they sought to develop their future grid. Since that first installation, Smart Wires footprint has grown significantly. Today, Smart Wires is working with most of the largest utilities in the US, Europe and Australia as they seek to make better use of the grid they already have.
In an exclusive interview with The Silicon Review, CEO of Smart Wires Gregg Rotenberg spoke about the company culture and why Smart Wires is one of the best places to work.
In-Conversation with Gregg Rotenberg:
Q. What is your company’s vision statement? And to what extent are you successful in achieving the same?
Smart Wires has developed an innovative technology that is quick to install, easy to redeploy and provides the flexibility needed in today’s uncertain landscape. We deploy our revolutionary technologies to “reroute power” around overloaded lines and address the most serious problems challenging our transmission system. Our solutions offer a superior value proposition compared with the traditional tools that utilities had at their disposal to solve these types of problems. These solutions offer an attractive option for utilities that are facing challenges predicting their future grid needs. With today’s challenges building new lines, utilities are under immense pressure to “get more out of their existing grids,” which is why Smart Wires has accumulated a true “Who’s Who” list of customers and forced the entire industry to take notice of this revolutionary solution.
Q. If you have to list some of the factors that have been/ are the biggest asset to your organization, what would they be and why?
At Smart Wires, our most important assets are our employees and our customers. When it comes to recruiting, we are very selective; we hire superstars in every role and we make sure that we communicate with them from the very beginning and let them know how seriously we take our 11 guiding principles.
We have an obsession with always pursuing the best solution for our customers and our ego-less culture is highly prescriptive in guiding us on how to make decisions, especially for customers.
Q. Two-way communication is the key. Employees need to feel they have an outlet for sharing their observations and ideas, is this true with your company?
Yes! Two of our 11 guiding principles are Communication and Courage. We highly encourage our team members to provide their opinions even if they think it might be contrary to the perspective of the senior team. We firmly believe “the best idea should always win, regardless of the level of the person that originally contributed the idea.” Members at all levels of the organization are encouraged to consistently ask for feedback and development opportunities. At Smart Wires, we make every effort to communicate our company mission and hire passionate people who embody it when they come to work every day. Every member of the Smart Wires team has a crucial role to perform and they recognize the superiority of a team over an individual.
Q. How do you bring the best out of an employee? Do you give them enough autonomy in work-related decisions?
At Smart Wires, we’ve adopted a freedom and responsibility culture which our team really enjoys. Smart Wires is committed to placing Superstars in every role. We invest three times more than the industry norm in finding top talent. We hire stellar people and we know they will do their best work without having to constantly check in with them. We are consistently securing incredible additions to our team who bring new ideas and help drive our mission forward.
The Future Roadmap
Since its founding, Smart Wires has continued to take positive steps towards its vision of transforming the way the electric grid is planned and operated. The company has continued to steadily expand its reach and will be delivering hundreds of millions of dollars of solutions to utilities across the world.
Leading a World Class Team
Gregg Rotenberg, CEO & President: Gregg leads the development of the company’s products and solutions and is responsible for commercializing the technology both domestically and internationally. Smart Wires has assembled a uniquely talented team to bring its solutions to leading utilities and transmission owners all over the globe. Prior to Smart Wires, Gregg was the General Manager of the Renewable Power Group at Chevron Energy Solutions (CES) and managed CES’ Strategic Alliances Group. The Strategic Alliances Group reviewed over 1,000 companies in a five-year period to identify truly game-changing energy technologies. It is through this review that Gregg became acquainted with Smart Wires.
Gregg holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics with a concentration in finance and accounting from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated magna cum laude, and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, where he graduated first in his class.