February is Black History Month. We’re spotlighting some of our African American leaders who model high standards and are paving the way for others at SNC. Here, we’re focusing on Cyneetha Evans, site Security manager, Farley, and Tim Long, fleet oversight manager (DEV), Fleet Engineering.
When and why did you become interested in nuclear energy?
Evans: In 1999, while enrolled at Troy University pursuing a degree in business, I attended a career fair on campus. I’ve always had an interest in infrastructure security and, after speaking with one of the recruiters representing Southern Nuclear, I felt that nuclear security would be a good fit for me. Shortly after the career fair, I took a tour of the plant and here I am, 19 years later, still enjoying working for the company.
Long: I have always been fascinated with the physical aspects of nature and wanted to make a living in a field where I could continue to learn. I became interested in nuclear energy while in college. I finished high school in the late ‘70s and during that time, oil/gas supplies and prices were in a constant flux, creating long lines at the gas pumps and economic instability. Although commercial nuclear power had its political challenges, there was a high demand for design and retrofit engineering to address those challenges.
What does it take to succeed in the nuclear industry?
Evans: In my opinion, you must have high standards, possess good work ethics, have the ability to build strong relationships, the ability to adapt in a quickly changing environment, the drive to succeed and obtain results, a competitive nature, be willing to sacrifice, be dedicated to the nuclear mission and lead by example.
Long: Integrity and a strong work ethic will afford you opportunities to develop meaningful relationships with credibility. I believe that no one truly succeeds solely on their own accord. I have been fortunate to work with and for professionals who have shared their experiences and provided support to work toward common goals.
Have you encountered any obstacles? How did you handle them?
Evans: I transitioned to leadership early in my career, so I was still learning the business while being a new leader. I had to overcome the challenge of being extremely results driven to becoming a people-first individual. I learned that if I put the right people in the right positions, I will achieve the desired results while building a stronger team.
Long: Sure, I have encountered many obstacles. The values that were instilled in me by my parents and the basic principles of human decency equipped me to handle any obstacle. I don’t dwell on the obstacles, I focus on the success paths, even though they may be the longest and somewhat convoluted paths.
What advice do you have for others who want to follow in your footsteps?
Evans: You must ALWAYS put God first in everything that you do. If He’s not first, the rest really doesn’t matter. I also believe that you must model high standards, be transparent, a good steward of all opportunities given to you, learn to lean in and be a team player.
Long: I would advise others to learn as much as they can about the business of nuclear energy. There are multiple facets of the business (licensing, operations, maintenance, projects, financial, design, etc.) that keep the technology commercially viable. A broad experience base helps to know the importance of adequately managing these to avoid the pitfalls that others in the industry have gone through.