Navigating Culture Change and Leadership Development Following a Merger.

Enabling Organizational Evolution

San Jose Water is an investor-owned public utility and is one of the largest and most technically sophisticated urban water systems in the United States.

San Jose Water’s existence and mission is to provide essential, high-quality, life-sustaining service to families and communities while protecting the environment and providing a fair return to shareholders. The organization needed leaders to engage in the latest best practices for leadership by first gaining a deeper understanding of themselves. Through strategic assessments, planning, and coaching, leaders built the necessary tool sets required to continue improving their leadership on their own. This has helped leaders with honoring the organization’s values of Integrity, Transparency, Service, Compassion, Teamwork, Respect and Trust while navigating the organization’s evolving culture.

Challenges and Objectives 

Following their merger with Connecticut Water and two smaller water utilities in Texas and Maine, SJ Water’s senior leadership team was faced with daunting twin challenges – integrate what was once four regionally-based organizations into one national organization and evolve the culture of the organization so it could more quickly and easily adapt to ongoing change.

Kadabra was met with the challenge of engaging leaders who previously considered executive coaching to be a sign that a leader was struggling, rather than being viewed as a career development tool or employee benefit.

Leaders in the organization needed to develop new mindsets, skill sets and behaviors that aligned with the evolving organizational culture that would result in positive, sustainable culture and organizational change over time. 

We met with the challenge of engaging leaders who previously considered executive coaching to be a sign that a leader was struggling, rather than being viewed as a career development tool or employee benefit.

Kadabra was successful in shifting the perception of executive coaching through a positive lens where leaders believe in the value of investing in employee and leadership development. Conversations that would not have been possible a few short years ago now take place, and leadership mindsets, skill sets, and behaviors more consistently reflect company values and the desired culture. 

The initial executive coaching program was so successful that Kadabra was invited to deliver a customized, cohort-based, group learning program to approximately 25 members of the engineering department at SJ Water. That program was also successful in meeting program objectives to develop new mindsets, skill sets, and behaviors aligned with the evolving organizational culture. The group learning program exceeded nearly all participants’ expectations and created a strong foundation for further development and progress. 


“Kadabra provides an array of best-in-class leadership development services. Wendy Ryan and her team have been working with our company to implement a 360-degree feedback and development process for our senior leadership team. Initially, a few employees were apprehensive about participating. However, now that they are progressing through the experience, they are true advocates for the program and are encouraging other leaders to take advantage of this extremely valuable employee benefit. We are already seeing positive results based on the services we have received from Kadabra! I have been in Human Resources for nearly twenty years and have experienced several leadership development programs at some of Silicon Valley’s largest employers. Without any hesitation, I recommend Kadabra as one of the best!

Stephanie Orosco , VP of Human Resources, SJ Water 

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