94 THE POWER OF POSSIBILITY NISC | 50 YEARS OF INNOVATION AND MEMBER SERVICE still receive personal, handwritten notes or phone calls congratulating them on a work anniversary, the birth of a baby or other personal milestones. They are signed, simply, “Vern.” He asks employees to call him by his first name. While he can’t meet personally with each employee, Dosch speaks to them through audio or video blogs and expresses his gratitude for their work. “Do the right thing always” is the mantra he emphasizes in leadership summits and employee meetings, and that is his personal touchstone. His message resonates most strongly through his actions. At buffet luncheons or service award banquets that honor employees, Dosch insists on eating last. He regularly gives credit for successes to NISC’s vice presi- dents, employees and Members. He’s committed to keeping an open door and an open mind to new ideas. Marcella Holden, Billing Supervisor with Triangle Telephone and Hill County Electric cooperatives in Havre, Montana, was once waiting to board a flight to the Member Information Conference when she found herself standing next to Dosch at the Minneapolis airport. “What’s your seat?” he asked her. Then he surprised her by offering her his first-class seat, awarded by the airline due to his extensive flight miles, for the trip to St. Louis. “He is an exceptionally bright, tough, disciplined and humble CEO. And that’s a rare combination,” says John Doggett, a business consultant and Senior Lecturer in Global Entrepreneurship, Management and Sustain- ability at the University of Texas Austin McComb School of Business. Dosch’s career moves were far from smooth sailing, so to speak. On a hot August day in 1992, serving then as NCDC Office Manager, Dosch was headed home from a software demonstration in Holyoke, Colorado, with management software and other tools to maneuver crews as efficiently as possible. “How do we make it easy?” asks Eisenhauer, NISC’s Vice President for Strategy and Operations Solutions, pointing to a screen. “How do we sync those crews [to respond to outages and service orders]?” VERN DOSCH: DRIVEN BY A PASSION TO SERVE When Vern Dosch went to work for NCDC in 1986, his father thought he was making a big mistake. He had a good, stable job at Basin Electric Power Cooperative in Bismarck, but would take a pay cut to go to a company that was struggling financially. The move was hard to explain. “I just felt that this was where I was supposed to be,” says Dosch. He respected the people he knew at NCDC, so when Manager Ray Clouse called with an offer, he said yes. “I saw how hard they worked and how passionate they were about their work. The thought of working with them was exciting and invigo- rating for me,” Dosch recalls. Thirty-one years later, it’s clear that Dosch’s decision was fortuitous — not just for him, but for NCDC and NISC. Since Dosch became CEO in 2002, NISC has doubled in size to more than 800 Members and from about 500 employees to 1,100. Gross revenue has grown from $73 million to $193 million. Computerworld magazine has named NISC one of the nation’s best workplaces in IT every year except one (in 2003) since Dosch became CEO. Help Desk Institute ranks NISC in its Elite 50 for customer satisfaction related to its customer support. The job-searching website Glassdoor indicates 94 percent of NISC employees and former employees who posted reviews anonymously said they approve of the CEO. His belief in servant leadership and the cooperative principles shape the culture of the company he leads. Even as NISC has grown, employees Marty McPherson, a former lineman who is head of Sawnee dispatch, suggests the outage management software should includeserviceorders,suchasremovalofafallentree.Inastorm, the same crew restores power and cuts away obstructions. Sawnee executives add more items to a wish list as they brainstorm in a conference room: more mobile applications,