By Cassie McClure
Published in the Las Cruces Sun-News 11/29/20.
When former Socorro County manager Delilah A. Walsh came to Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) in July 2019 as the first assistant utilities director, her experiences with the new team were a consistently positive experience.
“We have so many incredibly talented people, and every day I’m amazed a little bit more by the amount of knowledge and skill that’s present in the whole team,” Walsh said. “I’m constantly impressed and never disappointed. Especially with COVID, they show up every day and deliver.”
As the new LCU director since October 25, 2020, Walsh is crafting a vision for the utilities to capitalize on its strongest resources - the in-depth professional and institutional knowledge, and enthusiasm, of its associates. She believes that the various lines of business – including natural gas, water, wastewater, and solid waste collection, among others – can share the wealth of talent across the department by enabling cross-training and clearer communication.
“We have a strong organization when it comes to other utilities and our peer groups. LCU is very organized and has lots of innovation that leads to cost-saving measures,” Walsh said. “However, we need to be limber throughout the department when it comes to implementing new regulations and new safety measures.”
Walsh explained that when different areas can share equipment, training, and resources, including their associates, it allows for more organic collaboration instead of limiting assets to only one area.
“If we can develop our associates with more robust skills, it will benefit our ratepayers by efficiently using all of our resources and creating a better utility,” she said.
Key to that professional development will be a human resources specialist in the process of being hired. Walsh wants to implement a career development plan for every single LCU associate and have an opportunity to identify future entry-level growth and transition those ready to move to the next level.
“Where do you want to be in your career and what opportunities do you want to explore? I want feedback from them on where they see their own career growing in ways that will benefit the utility,” Walsh said. “There will be those who want to grow to be a supervisor or director. But if we have an employee, who is in a position, happy in their role, and wants to be there for the next 20 years, that great. We still want them to develop into the most effective person in that position.”
LCU has also hired a management consultant to guide organizational changes, interviewing deputy directors, supervisors, and associates to figure out ways to reduce barriers to collaboration.
“My philosophy is that every interaction with somebody should have made their day better, whether you did your job, or you helped them, or just because you showed that you cared,” Walsh said. “I found that’s the personality of most associates at the utilities. They want to make their community better, and that’s ultimately what we’re here to do.”
LCU can be reached at 575-528-3500 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.
PHOTO 1: LCU Director Delilah A. Walsh looks forward to developing each associate to the top of their abilities and create organic collaboration to stimulate innovation for the benefit of ratepayers in Las Cruces.