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The benefits of WANO’s secondment programme for my organisation and the global industry

David Rhoades, Chief Nuclear Officer at Constellation Energy, discusses the benefits of the WANO secondment programme. He then shares some practical advice for other members when considering placing staff on secondments at WANO.

Participating in the WANO secondment programme yields several benefits for our organisation. It promotes leadership development through exposure to different leadership styles and cultures. Additionally, the programme provides benchmarking and professional networking opportunities through industry peers. Lastly, it provides our leaders with a unique perspective of the global industry. 

At Constellation, the WANO secondment programme is a key leadership development activity and a component of our talent development strategy. I work closely with our Human Resources and functional area leaders to identify potential candidates. Together, we review a candidate’s professional background, leadership attributes, and long-term career trajectories to develop a “ready now” timeline for a WANO secondment assignment. We also work with WANO to review their needs and, thereby, link candidates whose profile would result in the best synergies for a particular secondment.

High-potential leaders are exposed to the broader, global industry prior to rotating into higher levels of responsibility within the organisation. Additionally, seconded employees return as industry experts in their functional areas, strengthening theirs and the organisation’s credibility with the rest of the industry. 

Best practices are reviewed and implemented across the fleet, and there’s ultimately a dual benefit for us and WANO, as our leaders are better positioned to shape industry policy, which drives the industry to higher levels of performance. Our overarching goal is to develop future leaders by providing them with an experience that will challenge and develop them as well as enable them to shape the future of our industry.

Other benefits to the industry include enabling the sharing of operating experience and allowing for diversity of thought and leadership in addressing global nuclear issues.

Now that I’ve shared several benefits, I’d like to provide some lessons learned and recommendations to prospective participants.

Firstly, ensure a process is in place to review upcoming job openings or opportunities before the employee returns to their home company. We begin this process eight months before their return to ensure we are targeting the best fit for the employee and putting their experience where it will be most beneficial to the organisation. Second, ensure there are structured touchpoints with the employee during their time serving the industry. They still must be supported through mentoring, coaching and development planning to maximize their development. Third, a secondee assignment is often a family decision. Ensure that your organisation factors in the need for family travel and support during the assignment. And finally, encourage the employee to maintain an open mind as they immerse themselves into a new culture!

David’s colleague Amy Ferko, Vice President, Global Operational Services at Constellation Energy, worked as a secondee in WANO earlier in her career. Amy remarked: “I look back on my time as a WANO secondee and recognise what an amazing opportunity I was given, as it helped me accelerate my personal and professional development. I observed many leadership styles and cultures as well as industry best practices. Meeting and working with industry peers from around the world broadened my experiences and expanded my network of peers. All of these have benefitted me throughout my career.”