• Blue Ridge Mountains

Our Team

Robert H. Picchi

Robert H. Picchi

President

Mr. Picchi began his consulting career with Carolina Power & Light Company (CP&L, now Duke Energy). CP&L recruited Mr. Picchi for a leadership position in its internal management consulting practice. As a Project Management Consultant, he worked with utility managers to improve their organizational effectiveness and resource planning, to coordinate the efforts of external consulting teams, and to assist the company in its strategic planning and performance management efforts.

Mr. Picchi began his external consulting career with Chicago-based Richard Metzler and Associates (now Navigant Consulting). Mr. Picchi was recruited to Utilities International as a Vice President in 1997 to lead the firms utility-telecommunications practice area. Mr. Picchi was promoted to Senior Vice President and member of the Senior Management Committee.

In 2002 Mr. Picchi formed the Blue Ridge Advisory Services Group (Blue Ridge). Blue Ridge was formed to concentrate on the deployment of broadband infrastructure and related services with a particular market focus on start-up telecommunications enterprises formed to expand advanced services and drive economic development. Mr. Picchi has developed numerous telecommunications strategies and business plans, conducted market assessments, and performed financial modeling and analysis for firms seeking to leverage their existing assets or create value through innovative business approaches.

Mr. Picchi has authored several articles on the convergence of telecommunications and energy and has become a nationally recognized expert in the area of creating value through the strategic deployment of telecommunications infrastructure.

Mr. Picchi earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan Dearborn. Thereafter, he completed a Master’s in Business Administration from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

Areas of Expertise

  • Telecommunications and technology planning
  • Agreement negotiations
  • Business and strategic planning
  • Leveraging assets for value creation
  • Energy services business planning
  • Financial analysis and risk assessment
Kristin Rich Heller

Kristen Rich Heller

Ms. Heller joined Blue Ridge Advisory Services in 2006. Prior to working with Blue Ridge, Ms. Heller was an acquisitions manager at EarthLink in Atlanta, where she focused on acquiring new ISPs and integrating subscribers into the EarthLink network. Prior to joining EarthLink, she was managing consultant at Utilities International, a Chicago-based consultancy where she developed financial models, databases, and competitive analyses for the telecommunications business unit. Ms. Heller has consulted with over fifty investor-owned, cooperative, and municipal utilities.

At Blue Ridge Advisory Services, Ms. Heller has led a number of engagements to develop business plans for new entrants into the commercial telecommunications market. This work has resulted in a number of successful and sustainable ventures with a focus on economic development and re-purposing local economies. Ms. Heller is the practice lead in representing real estate developers in negotiating collaborative alliances with telecommunications, cable TV, and Internet service providers. These arrangements have resulted in significant competitive advantage for the developers in both amenities for the project and new revenue streams and lines of business. Ms. Heller was the lead consultant in a project that resulted in the first large-scale deployment of an all Fiber-to-the Home (FTTH) network in the nation – Mission Bay in San Francisco.

Ms. Heller is a graduate of DePaul University’s Master of Business Administration program and was graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in International Business.

Before obtaining her MBA, Ms. Heller worked with Groupe Bull, a French multinational information systems and services company, Price Waterhouse’s Tax Technology Group and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia as an Analyst in the Corporate Finance Department.

Areas of Expertise

  • Telecommunications and technology planning
  • Carrier agreement negotiations
  • Business and strategic planning
  • Financial analysis and risk assessment
  • Market research
  • Competitive analysis and benchmarking

Craig R. Harrison

Mr. Harrison is an accomplished strategist, adept in crafting winning business models for the emerging energy and telecommunications utility business of the new century. Mr. Harrison began his utility career immediately after business school as the Director of Corporate Strategy for PacifiCorp. Mr. Harrison led such initiatives as:

  • Spearheading major corporate investments in Energy Information Systems (EIS), energy-based venture capital, and distributed small-scale generation.
  • Forging technology-based business ventures with global industrial equipment suppliers.

Mr. Harrison was promoted to Director, International Business Development, where he was tasked with leading PacifiCorp’s business development initiatives in Latin America.

Mr. Harrison began his consulting career with Mercer Management Consulting, a Chicago-based consultancy. While at Mercer, he managed million-dollar client engagements that restructured utility company operating divisions to accomplishing substantial cost reductions in core operational functions stemming from mergers. Mr. Harrison led a cross-functional consulting team in formulating successful regulatory and pricing strategies for open access retail competition.

Mr. Harrison began working with the principals of Blue Ridge in 2002 to leverage his knowledge base and experience in utilities to create value for real estate developers in a converged energy and telecommunications marketplace.

As a trusted advisor to senior managers of leading utility and development companies, Mr. Harrison has proved an effective change agent, respected team leader, skilled practitioner in directing multi-disciplinary work groups.

Mr. Harrison earned an undergraduate economics degree from the Stanford University with highest honors. At Stanford, Mr. Harrison was the recipient of the annual award for outstanding honors thesis of the graduating class. Thereafter, he completed a Master’s in Business Administration from Harvard Graduate School of Business.

Skip Skinner

Glen A. “Skip” Skinner

Principal Consultant

Mr. Skinner joined Blue Ridge in 2016. He has over 35 years of public sector experience serving governments at the local, county and regional level. He recently retired as the Executive Director of the LENOWISCO Planning District Commission where he led a team of professionals in planning and development support for a region undergoing an economic transition unlike any seen in the last 50 years. During this period, complex planning scenarios including transportation, water and wastewater infrastructure, renewable energy and broadband communications were planned and implemented.

While at LENOWISCO, Mr. Skinner oversaw the successful development, stabilization, and divestment of a fiber-optic broadband communications network. His expertise in rural broadband policy was further expanded when he was appointed to serve as a charter board member of Mid-Atlantic Broadband, widely believed to be the most successful middle-mile broadband project in the nation. During his tenure at LENOWISCO, he served as a member of the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Board of Directors, overseeing a $100 million fund used for financing new projects in the region. Additionally, he served as a co-director of the Virginia Coalfield Coalition which successfully launched the first large-scale rural 4-G wireless network in the nation. Mr. Skinner served as a Co-director of the Appalachian Prosperity Project, a unique collaboration of the University of Virginia, UVA-Wise, businesses, and non-profits. Mr. Skinner was appointed by the governor of Virginia to serve as a board member of the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation, tasked with assisting the region rebuild its economy around music, art, and eco-tourism.

While Mr. Skinner served as the Wise County Administrator, the county was successful in recruiting a $1.8 Billion hybrid energy plant nearly doubling the tax base of the county. Skip’s focus throughout his career has been the development of critical infrastructure.

Mr. Skinner is a member of the LEAD Virginia class of 2008. LEAD Virginia has a mission to connect leaders to shape Virginia’s future. Skip has served as a curriculum co-chair since 2009. In this role, he assists in planning the annual LEAD Virginia’s class visit to Southwest Virginia. Skip was chosen as Lead Virginia’s Distinguished Alumnus for 2016.

Mr. Skinner earned a B.S. Degree in Business Administration with a major in Finance from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.