Seattle City (spot)Light: Kurt Pullman, System Operations Director

The Basics

How long have you been at City Light? Six months 

Division: System Operations 

Tell us about your role. What does your job entail?  As the director of system operations, I am responsible for providing leadership to our System Operations Center, which includes the group of professionals and support staff who monitor, control, and direct real-time operations of our electric transmission and distribution systems, as well as our hydro projects. We are also responsible for regional reliability coordination, which means playing our part to ensure the lights stay on in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. My team works in our System Control Center (SCC) overseeing the safety and reliability of our system 24/7, 365. While we are not the largest or most visible department in City Light, we play a critical role in both day-to-day operations and future planning at the utility! 

Background

Hometown: Boston, Mass. 

Alma Mater: Maine Maritime Academy 

Area of study: Undergrad and graduate both focused on operations management with a strong tie to global logistics and supply chain management.  

Tell us about your family

Grant! My 19-month-old son, Grant, is the center of my universe and everything I do outside of work revolves around him. Grant’s passions are throwing rocks into water and anything to do with planes. We spend our weekends rating the area beaches for best rock selection and pointing at every plane that flies overhead. 

My wife, Katie, and I recently celebrated six years married and 10+ years together. Katie is much more interesting than I am and spends her professional time managing cybersecurity and technology risk at a major financial services institution. Throughout the first half of our relationship, our careers had us on the move frequently — both domestic and international. I was working primarily overseas, which made it slightly less complicated for Katie to say yes to every opportunity that came her way. We went from Boston to a couple stints in Texas (Houston and Lubbock) and then north to Denver (where we had an apartment that we never actually moved into). We made a pit stop back in Boston before Katie was put on international assignments in Ireland, India, and China. We landed back in Boston for about five years before deciding to relocate to Seattle. We now live in Queen Anne and have been trying to figure out why we didn’t make this move years ago! 

Just for Fun

What’s the best piece of advice you have received? Your success is our success. A past boss used to say this during high stress, high visibility situations when there was a lot of responsibility in my hands. Looking back on it, I probably wouldn’t use it in the same context, but instead I like that it can be applied when working up, down, and across organizations or when dealing with external customers. Even in our personal lives and communities — if I focus on what you need to be your best, it will make us both better as a result. Kind of like “a rising tide lifts all boats” but doesn’t make for as nice of a motivational poster.  

Which City Light value do you align most with and why? Customers First. I have found establishing strong relationships and mutual understanding with our customers to be incredibly rewarding. I am continually amazed at what can be accomplished through that partnership.  

A primary factor that attracted me to City Light was the ability to be more closely connected with the customers we serve. Having previously worked at an investor-owned utility spanning three states and nearly five million electric customers, it was much more difficult to establish meaningful relationships across the service territory. Living, working, and playing in the community we serve is incredibly rewarding to me, and I am always proud to share the great work City Lighters accomplish daily. 

The big game is on – what sport are you watching and who are you rooting for? Hockey —no question. The Kraken are my #1 … right after the Boston Bruins. Can’t abandon my home team! 

What is your favorite local restaurant? Katie and I really enjoy the Ballard Cut on our infrequent date nights, but we are also not strangers at our favorite neighborhood spot, Bar Miriam. 

Who do you admire the most? My Uncle Roger. I have always admired his work ethic, career achievements, and drive to improve community by elevating everyone around him. He has encouraged and guided me through most of the major decisions so far!