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Achieving Excellence: IAEA, Partners Hold Seminar on Nuclear Leadership


Lecturer Pekka Pyy introducing IAEA activities to participants of the International Nuclear Executive Leadership Seminar, held from 27 March to 3 April 2019 at Texas A&M University, College Station, USA. (Photo: Texas A&M University)

Managing a nuclear power programme is demanding and highly competent leaders are vital to success at all stages. An International Nuclear Executive Leadership Seminar that ended last week provided a fast track, broad overview of nuclear power fundamentals to 20 senior managers from regulatory bodies, nuclear power plant (NPP) operators, government institutions and the construction sector in 13 IAEA Member States. Participants represented a mix of countries embarking on a new nuclear power programme or expanding an existing one.

The ten-day course focused on nuclear leadership through the continuous reinforcement of excellence, commitment to nuclear safety and developing leadership competences. It was supported by an IAEA interregional technical cooperation project and hosted by the Nuclear Power Institute at Texas A&M University, in College Station, USA. The World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO), the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations in the US and several locally based organizations contributed to the programme.

“The effective management of a nuclear power programme entails strong leadership, strategy and planning, organization and competence development,” said Pekka Pyy, senior nuclear expert at the IAEA Nuclear Power Engineering Section, who lectured at the seminar. “Also, sustainable management systems are essential to ensure that all important issues ranging from safety, security, IAEA safeguards, to health and quality are included in the strategic decision making process.”

The seminar programme, presented in lectures, case studies, facilitated discussions, technical tours and interactive meetings addressed a wide range of topics, from establishing high standards and accountability in leadership to maintaining a strong nuclear safety culture and ensuring long term safe operation of NPPs, from applying project management fundamentals and lessons learned to spent fuel and radioactive waste management.

"This course has taken us from the very basics of radiation through construction to completion and operation of a nuclear power plant,” said Tomasz Kwiatkowski, Director of the Programme Coordination Office at PGE-EJ1, a subsidiary of the state-owned energy company PGE, set up to construct and operate Poland's first NPP. "We got firsthand knowledge from people who are working in the nuclear sector and they were willing to share their experience and knowledge.”

Participants were also able to gain appreciation for leadership strategies such as change management, organizational culture, nuclear knowledge management, workforce development and the importance of communication and developing strong relationships with local communities and government officials.

“The seminar was very useful for me because I am working in the field of nuclear communication,” explained Andreea Udrescu from Romania’s nuclear and radioactive waste agency ANDR.  “It is important to have external communication but also communication within the organization. This is why we have to build trust among us, to be open to communicate and to be accountable.”

Several sessions with local government and business representatives as well as technical tours completed the programme. These included visits to the South Texas Project Electric Generating Station, a two unit NPP producing 2700 MW(e) of electricity, and emergency response management and training facilities.

“The course on nuclear leadership has been a unique opportunity for learning and developing a lasting network of senior nuclear leaders,” said Inemo Morris Adaka, Assistant Director for Nuclear Power Plant Development at the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission.

The course on nuclear leadership has been a unique opportunity for learning and developing a lasting network of senior nuclear leaders.
Inemo Morris Adaka, Assistant Director for Nuclear Power Plant Development, Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission

IAEA support

The Interregional Technical Cooperation Project on Supporting Knowledgeable Decision-making and Building Capacities to Start and Implement Nuclear Power Programmes is a significant mechanism for the IAEA to provide support to Member States. It helps in establishing a global network and forum for information exchange with new and expanding nuclear power programmes. Launched in 2016, the project has been financially supported by more than 6 million euros, thanks to multiple donors: France, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United States, the Russian Federation and the IAEA Technical Cooperation (TC) fund.

The four-year project includes a total of seven workshops, 46 training courses, 11 fellowship programmes and 13 group scientific visits, training attendees from 41 Member States. It is aimed at enabling participants to acquire new knowledge required for decision making and building capacities to support the development or expansion of safe, secure and sustainable nuclear power programmes. A follow-up project, to be launched in 2020, is being developed.

Senior managers from 13 countries attended the International Nuclear Executive Leadership Seminar, held at the Nuclear Power Institute of Texas A&M University, 27 March - 3 April 2019. (Photo: Texas A&M University)

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