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Leading the Charge: Meet CEO David Swank


David Swank is not your average manager. In fact, the word “average” is not one that appeals to him all that much. Excellence is a word he likes far better, and if you hang around him very long, you’re going to hear that word a lot.


He routinely gets to work before 5 a.m. He spends countless hours preparing presentations and meeting with his staff on major projects. At any given time, you will find at least one leadership book and one thick report on the latest research on utility tech- nology on his desk. If there’s one thing the new Cenergy CEO is not doing, it’s resting on the status quo. Actually, the word “rest” doesn’t really seem to fit him either.


“I’ve always been intrigued by the affect technology has on transforming industry,” Swank said. “But it’s not just technology. It’s the people that create and implement it. There’s a direct correlation between faith, the desire to serve and influencing peoples’


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lives that make up the idea of leader- ship. We are constantly stressing the idea of creating leaders in our industry.”


If he sometimes sounds like a preach- er, that’s because he is one. He’s been a licensed minister for many years and still ministers occasionally when his schedule allows. His schedule has al- ways been filled and certainly doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon.


His new position places him in charge of two electric cooperatives, Canadian Valley in Seminole, and Central Rural in Stillwater, which have plans to vote on consolidation later this year. Add to that the management of several busi- ness units, and being the managing member of the National Energy Solu- tions Institute-Smart Energy Source Association and you get a calendar that has more meetings than it has space to list them.


The question is, why does he do it? Ask him and you might not get a sim- ple answer, but it will be full of simple


principles like accountability, respon- sibility, sacrifice and results.


“We are accountable to our members to keep our cooperatives financially sound and able to handle the changing forces in the market,” Swank said. “The greatest asset we have is the intellectual capital of the employees who have been working for the coop- eratives for many years. That kind of research you can’t find in a study. It comes from years of hard work that has been done to build these coopera- tives from the ground up.”


He learned the value of hard work from his parents growing up in Trenton, Missouri, a rural community northeast of Kansas City. His father grew up as a farmer and later made his way into the shoe store business where young David worked and began to learn the fine art of salesmanship. His lifelong dream was to be a college basketball player, which he pursued at North Central Mis- souri College, but what he calls “obvi- ous reasons” ended that dream after a


Cenergy|www.cenergy.coop


Photo courtesy of Hart Portrait Artists


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