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PG&E's Learning Center Provides Facilitation, Inspiration -- and Recreation

June 1, 1996
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When you're conducting something as intense and energetic as an action forum, you need to host it at a place that nurtures that creativity. That's why most action forums are held at PG&E's San Ramon, California, Learning Center. Created almost a decade ago, the facility is a sprawling combination conference center, training area and hotel (its catering and hotel services are run by Marriott).

The Center contains multiple meeting rooms, including a 100-person auditorium loaded with a sound system and a projection screen that spans the wall. Employees are free to get as worked up as they want — the conference rooms are sound buffered by fabric covering, which also allows employees to easily pin up any of their charts for viewing. The phones are directly plugged into the PG&E system so employees can be immediately connected to whomever they need to reach at headquarters.

Overnight stays are necessary during the several-day action forums. No worry. The guest rooms, straight out of a hotel brochure, are equipped with their own bathrooms, phones and computers (for those who don't want to make the trip to the computer center downstairs). A cafeteria offers a variety of meals — and a workout room lets guests sweat off those meals. In the evenings, employees can get together for a movie, play a little pool, compete on video games or shoot some hoops in the center courtyard.

A lot of PG&E's field training is conducted here also, such as for electrical and repair positions. The building also boasts a power-plant simulator, in which employees can role play their operations training. But because PG&E doesn't need the center all the time, it rents it out to local colleges for their extension programs and area businesses for meetings. Next year, the Learning Center is expected to start actually turning a profit for the company.

Personnel Journal, June 1996, Vol. 75, No. 6, pp. 100-108.

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