IACET: Tell us a little about yourself.
Pete Knoetgen: I currently live in Georgia and I have spent over 30 years in the Navy. That is where I got my first introduction to training.
IACET: Thank you for your service.
Pete Knoetgen: It was my honor to do it. I graduated from the US Naval Academy. Then went to Nuclear Power Training and then out to sea for a couple of years. Then, I was assigned to shore duty at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. That was my first assignment in Atlanta, as an Instructor and a Certified Navy Trainer teaching at Morehouse College. I was honored to work with the men at Morehouse and it was a great opportunity for me. I worked in Nuclear Power for most of my career and obtained a Graduate Degree from Georgia Tech when I was there.
Pete Knoetgen: I have been married for 39 years and my lovely wife and I live in Alpharetta, Georgia. We have two sons, both of whom went to West Point and served in the United States Army . One is Helicopter Pilot, and he is deployed right now. The other just moved back to the U.S. after living and working overseas.
IACET: Outside of manning the ARC for IACET, what do you do with your time?
Pete Knoetgen: I have my own company, Azimuth Associates, that focuses on accreditation and performance improvement training, mostly in Technical training in the Utility industry.
IACET: How did you become an IACET Commissioner?
Pete Knoetgen: I was on the team with PJM, which is the electric grid operator for the Northeast. They have over 50 million customers and operate the entire grid up there and they wanted to get accredited because of all the training they do for grid operators, engineers, and support personnel. We went through the IACET accreditation application process in 2016. During the site visit, I got to know my commissioner and he encouraged me to apply to also be a commissioner. So, I did and became an IACET Commissioner in 2017.
IACET: What inspires you most about the Continuing Education & Training and Accreditation fields?
Pete Knoetgen: Well, the thing that inspires me is the ability, mission, and purpose to help people improve their lives by doing things they could not do before or improving the way they were accomplishing those things prior. It helps them grow and develop in their careers and it helps their companies be more successful. It flows down to the quality of their work-life/family-life balance and makes their communities better as they grow and progress individually in their jobs and careers.
IACET: What do you think best prepared you for your role as a Commissioner?
Pete Knoetgen: My experience in the Navy as a Certified Trainer was a good start and I have been involved in training for most of my career. I had a career with the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) for 20 years. I was a leadership trainer and an Accreditation Team Manager doing site visits which are similar in purpose to what IACET. I was also Director of Accreditation before retiring. Those similar processes of reviewing someone’s program and identifying its strengths and weaknesses in the Nuclear Power industry is what really prepared me for my current role with IACET.
IACET: What is the ARC?
Pete Knoetgen: The ARC is the Accreditation Review Committee, composed of all the IACET lead reviewers, and we are responsible for quality, uniformity, and consistency in the IACET accreditation process. We do that by developing policies and procedures and other resources to help people achieve and maintain accreditation. When Casandra became CEO, I was appointed to Chair the ARC. We meet monthly and have a number of projects to continually improve our processes. The committee works hard because our review teams and applicants are worth it.
IACET: From your perspective, what are the benefits to the organizations seeking accreditation?
Pete Knoetgen: We accredit companies by following the Standard and comparing how an applicant’s programs, policies, procedures, and training development compare to that Standard. The whole idea of having the Standard is to provide a consistent way by which those programs can be measured in terms of its design and effectiveness in training and development. We assign two IACET commissioners (Lead Reviewer and Site Reviewer) that will review an applicant’s program and based on the information provided, they come to a consensus as to whether to approve or deny accreditation.
The benefits of this to the applicant are great. It is interesting that when people mention accreditation, they sometimes perceive it as a cumbersome task. They think it is bureaucratic or difficult and it really is not. It is simply a tool by which a structure is provided to maintain excellence in your organization. It may be a lot of work initially, but once everything is in place, the organization will be much more consistent, deliver better products, better training, and increase productivity. I do not know how many times I have heard an organization say after getting accredited that it was worth the effort. No matter who comes through the organization or the cycles it experiences, the standard of excellence remains the same, uniform, and consistent throughout. Overall, it is more efficient and creates the results you want. The training is tailored to what the people need and gives them resources and tools they can use.
IACET: If you could choose three words about Education and/or Continuing Education and Training, what would they be?
Pete Knoetgen: The first word would be people. It is all about people. The second word would be need. With adult learners especially, they are not interested in sitting through a training class that does not meet their needs or tailored to what they expect. The last word would be Assessment. We must assess when we are done to make sure we achieved our outcomes. That way we close the cycle and ensure we met the needs of the learners.
IACET: Lastly, any words of wisdom on creating a great team?
Pete Knoetgen: Here is a great book. It is called “Winning Every Day!” by Lou Holtz, the Notre Dame football coach who won the National Championship and a famous TV Sports Caster. He is a great guy, and I had the amazing opportunity of spending a day with him, one-on-one, when I was at INPO. We had arranged for Lou Holtz to come in and talk to a conference of Nuclear Plant managers. I was assigned as his escort for the day. On the flight to Atlanta, the thing that impressed me the most about him was that he asked me lots of questions about the attendees and he was genuinely interested. It really showed in how he incorporated a lot of those things into his speech and made the information relevant for the attendees – which he did with no notes.
His philosophy is that every time you interact with people, they have three questions they want answered.Even if they do not ask you the questions directly, they want to know if they can trust you, do you care about them, and are you committed to excellence?So, everything Lou Holtz does is with the understanding that people want those questions answered.Then, there are three rules. The first rule is to always do your best.The second rule is to do what is right.The third is to treat others the way you want to be treated.I have seen him speak several times and he is very consistent in his presentation and philosophy.I have used this simple approach personally in many leadership situations in business and in the Navy. I always told my people that this is how we are going to do business.It never failed me because if you can follow those three rules, and answer those three questions by your actions, you will be successful in your career.