Meet the People of Your Local PUD
Northern Wasco County PUD’s senior risk analyst Otesha Haynes has seen a bit of the world, including Thailand.
“I went to the elephant sanctuary all day,” she says. “I was petting elephants, feeding them, and bathing them in the river. I also experienced a lot of the rich culture. It was just an adventure.”
Otesha graduated from high school in Rancho Cucamonga, about 40 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.
A 10-year stint in the Air Force military police took Otesha farther afield. She was stationed at air bases in North Dakota and Massachusetts and a Royal Air Force base in England.
After leaving the Air Force, she worked security for two years at MIT Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts.
“I got a little bored with law enforcement,” Otesha says. “I applied for the leadership development program and got introduced to government contracting. A lot of risk analysis was involved with the process.”
When she applied for a job with Northern Wasco County PUD, she was working in South Carolina but looking for a change that would allow her to grow professionally. She asked herself, where hadn’t she lived? The answer was Oregon.
“I found this place called The Dalles, and I was like, ‘I don’t even know what that is, but I’m going to apply for it anyway,’” she says.
As an out-of-state applicant, Otesha felt it was a long shot. Her interviews went well, and she was hired at the PUD. Otesha says a risk analyst has to be well-informed.
“I have eyes in all directions, taking inventory and figuring out what we need to do and how we need to do it in mitigating those risks,” she says.
She then helps develop policies and procedures to ensure that mitigation.
Otesha’s military police background gave her another skill set that dovetails nicely with risk analysis: situational awareness.
“We’re always trained to know our surroundings, know our people, and know our audience,” she says.
Otesha is getting to know the area.
“I like to learn new things and learn about the community and the part the PUD plays in it, which is integral. The military has taught me if you don’t know something, go learn it. If you can’t figure it out, then you come ask questions.
“The more familiar I get with the people I work with and the people we serve, the more I love it.”
Jason Pfister’s life has taken him from one corner of the country to another—most recently, from Florida to Oregon. His path includes an eight-year stint in the Air Force, where his specialty was weapon systems maintenance.
“I was essentially maintaining missile launchers, rocket launchers, stuff like that,” he says. “But the majority of my time was spent in a technical role troubleshooting, maintaining mechanical and electrical systems.”
After leaving the Air Force, Jason knew where he didn’t want to live.
“I don’t want to be in an area where there’s lots of flat roads and a flat landscape,” he says.
Jason discovered Oregon.
“I was looking for somewhere that had a good culture but also allowed me to do what I do,” he says. “Through multiple conversations with people looking around exploring, I found the PUD. So far, it’s been great.”
That was last October.
“At its core, I’m just an IT technician,” Jason says. “But then there’s lots of other stuff in there. Networking, security—things like that.”
Jason describes his job as tough but exciting.
“We have a lot of cloud applications,” he says. “We have a lot of physical devices, both on the industrial side and on the IT side. We also have physical security controls and building automation. We touch all those pieces on a daily basis just trying to constantly massage them to see if it’s working or if there’s a problem.”
Jason works remotely from Eugene, but will move to The Dalles area if he and his wife can find an affordable place to live.
“What I want people to know is that the PUD is a really, really good place to work just from a culture perspective,” he says.
When not working, Jason says he likes to explore different things.
“I think right now my answer is fishing,” he says. “I’m kind of getting on board with what other Oregonians do. I’ve done it off and on, but a lot of people I’ve met throughout these organizations that are like, ‘Oh yeah, man. I’m going fishing this weekend. That’s what we do.’ So, I’ve kind of gotten into that with various folks.”
So far, his take has only been small trout—nothing compared to the size of the red snappers he would find back in Florida. He says he is looking forward to landing a big walleye or sturgeon.