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My career so far: Igor Franko

By Gavin Greene, Editor, Inside WANO

Inside WANO speaks to Igor Franko, from the Operating Experience Team in London

Igor Franko was seconded from Nuklearna Elektrarna Krško (NEK) in Slovenia in March 2013 to WANO Paris Centre to join the Peer Review Group as a Reviewer. He has a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Master's degree in Energy Technology, both from University of Maribor, Slovenia.

Igor started working in the nuclear industry in Krško Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in March 2006, as an Assistant Production Department Engineer. In October 2008, he finished initial training for his reactor operator licence and in November 2008 he started working as System Engineer. He joined the Operating Experience Central Team in London in March 2016.

How did you end up working in the nuclear industry?

When I was in high school I worked in the summer for a contractor firm at the Krško plant in various administration roles, including cleaning of the industrial area. It was a good chance to get to know the plant, as well as the people who work there. At university I applied for an apprentice scholarship, which provided funding for my tuition for three years.

Why did you choose to work at WANO?

There was an open call for a secondment to WANO at my plant – they were looking for people with my level of expertise. After a series of interviews and the test Peer Review I was offered the secondment. I thought it was a great opportunity to see how the other stations work, and a good chance to gain experience from working with other WANO experts, as well as working with experts from the plant which we visited. It was a good chance to build on the knowledge and experience I already had from being a WANO peer reviewer.

What was your awareness of WANO before joining?

My plant's intranet had links to a number of external organisations, which was helpful. We were encouraged to explore our membership of organisations like WANO, EPRI, INPO and IAEA. It was really useful for teams at my plant to extend their knowledge.

How do you think WANO helps to keep nuclear power safe?

I believe that even though we work separately and differently - every station has its own way of working – we are all still striving for excellence in the same way. One of the starting points is sharing Operating Experience and learning from past events. There will be always opportunities to improve by working together and WANO is there to offer this opportunity.

What do you hope to achieve from your secondment in London?

Personally, I'd like to get a broad experience of the regional centres and how they work, particularly from an operating experience point of view. I have gained experience from working in Paris, and with my knowledge from the field I believe I could help WANO to further improve the analysis part of operational experience as a cross-functional tool to all have most benefit from it.

What would you like to do after WANO?

I'd like to return to my parent company and work there, using the knowledge and experience that I'm getting from WANO, to help to improve safety and reliability in my plant.

What do you think of life in London so far?

It's still early days, but the first impressions are good. It's a different, multicultural environment when compared to the rest of the places I have visited in the UK while on peer reviews.

What's the best piece of advice you've been given?

​If you have a good idea, and you believe this is good for the industry, it's very important that you properly communicate this idea with your colleagues and management. I think we need to focus on communicating our ideas, and make sure the information is understood the same by all involved parties.