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Young Generation: a Passport for Excellence

The 2019 WANO Young Generation Exchange Assembly that took place in Paris on 18 February 2019 was a great success. I had the pleasure of opening the assembly, and it was an opportunity for me to reinforce how supporting the young generation is essential to achieving WANO’s mission.

The young generation initiative provides an opportunity for future leaders to develop international networks to benefit from global perspectives from their peers that will help broaden their mindset.

Many of those from the generation that connected over 450 units to grids of over 30 countries will soon retire from the workforce. And bearing in mind this context, this emphasises just how important young generation professionals are to the future of our nuclear industry. During the opening session of the assembly, I was pleased to hear about the career trajectory of participants, and I observed a couple of key themes:

·       The diversity of the group. For example, it was clear that a growing number of women have become accomplished leaders in the nuclear industry. This provides us with a great opportunity - it’s a chance for us to all think differently, to consider different perspectives, and implement new approaches to improve the safety and reliability of our nuclear assets
·       The importance of work–life balance. A number of participants expressed their wish to find the right balance between their work and family life. By achieving the right work-life balance, our future leaders will be able to perform and manage stress better – especially during periods when dealing with challenging operational issues

But the most important theme concerned participants’ discussions around their commitment to nuclear safety. Nuclear leaders must understand that our industry has unique challenges. We should accept that different is not wrong, and maintain a questioning attitude that will contribute to the exchanging of information and the emulation of best practices. There was broad agreement that nuclear leaders must define and reinforce standards of excellence through inspiring, coaching and influencing people to deliver the highest performance.

And by working at WANO, the young generation can use the nuclear network to pursue excellence in operational nuclear safety for commercial nuclear power.

We are committed to promoting the transfer of knowledge between experienced workers and young professionals. For instance, WANO Paris Centre has developed a strategy that ensures that more than 10% of secondee staff come from the young generation. We monitor their progress and track their journey to excellence using a special WANO ‘passport’. These passports will document their achievements as they develop into the next generation of industry leaders in nuclear safety.

By developing their skills, we set them up for success. We look forward to supporting more young leaders through this initiative in the months and years ahead.   

Jean-Paul Joly
WANO Paris Centre