North American Young Generation at a Nuclear Congress in Chicago
280 North American Young Generation Nuclear (NAYGN) members
gathered in Chicago recently to attend the 2008 Annual Professional
Development Workshop. This year, the central theme of the meeting
was Drive Your Success: Train for Tomorrow”. The main focuswere
the issues of generational workforce, communications techniques,
and knowledge transfer.
The workshop kicked off with a presentation
by Chris Crane, Executive Vice President of Exelon Nuclear and
Ellis, President and CEO of the Institute of Nuclear Power Plant
Operations. Mr. Ellis talked about the positive situation that
the nuclear industry is in at the moment. His lecture also identified
differences between leadership and management, and how a good
manager might not necessarily be a good leader. He added that
at this time the nuclear industry needs leadership more than
Jack B. Allen, Senior Vice President Operational Excellence
Westinghouse Electric Company LLC, discussed how there are different
cultures within the nuclear business, and how important is to
know and to respect these varying cultures because dealing with
people is the foundation of doing business. Even among those
that speak the same language there are differences he said: "Americans
and British do not speak the same English."
Other speakers clarified the multinational challenge that the
nuclear renaissance poses, namely the involvement and interaction
of a lot of countries with different cultures. In addition, they
stressed how important protocol is in the world of business,
for instance, business lunches and dinners are very different
affairs for, e.g. Muslims or Japanese businessmen.
The main session of the workshop was chaired
by Audrey Nelson, who gave an overview of the situation in North
America, where for the first time ever, four (soon to be five)
different generations currently work side by side in the same
workplace. These are the so-called silent generation, the baby
boomers, generation X and generation Y. The main problem with
mixture of different generations is the difference in values,
and how using new technologies in the workplace is modifying
the behaviour and relationships between managers and employees.
The session set aside a lot of time for networking and working
in groups. Ms. Nelson suggested that generation Y members analyse
how they use voicemail and e-mail services compared to a telephone.
The main purpose was to point out that the younger generations
are losing personal contact by using the new technologies and
that they must continue to understand the other generations if
they are to succeed.
The workshop ended with a session on knowledge transfer. This
focused on how institutions such as NRC are implementing programmes
for successfully transferring knowledge. The speakers highlighted
how flexibility, above all, was a key to this successful transfer
of knowledge. It was also stressed that the word “programme” should
not be used within the context of transfer of knowledge as all
programmes have their faults and the word implies schedules and
knowledge, whereas successful knowledge transfer needs flexibility.
The NAYGN is an association that is made up
of chapters all over North America. Any organisation involved
in the nuclear industry can start up its own regional chapter
within NAYGN and a budget is provided by the founding organisation.
For instance, the Pittsburgh chapter is shared by Westinghouse
and First Energy active in the region. Nevertheless, some
utilities like Progress Energy or Southern Nuclear each have
chapters in their organisation due to their locations. Perhaps,
this could be the reason why 80-85% of the NAYGN members who
attended the conference were members of utilities, while the
rest were members of vendors and regulatory bodies.
Based on this experience, it is concluded that
American utilities are providing great support for these young
in return the enthusiasm that this young generation is showing
with the new nuclear projects it is involved in in the United
States is indeed worthy of admiration.
Miguel Millán, Spanish YGN