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Latonia Enos-Sylla: ‘Be open to new opportunities, no matter how daunting’

March is Women’s History Month and to celebrate we’re spotlighting Latonia Enos-Sylla, a Risk Informed senior engineer at our Birmingham office.

When and why did you become interested in nuclear energy?

I am a chemical engineer and had no exposure to nuclear once I obtained my degree. I saw a classified ad in the paper for an engineering firm performing probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) for utilities. I interviewed with them, was offered the job and have been in the nuclear industry since then.

How did you end up at Southern Nuclear?

While working in the PRA department at Duke Energy, I was seeking a better opportunity. I opened up my LinkedIn profile to recruiters and was contacted by Southern Nuclear recruiter Laura Markus a few days later. I had never traveled to Birmingham but was open to the opportunity and came down for an interview. I have been in the Risk Informed Engineering group since January of last year.

What are some obstacles you’ve faced during your career?

Nuclear and engineering in particular have typically been a male dominated field. Some were not perceptive to a woman’s voice, insights and experience (especially an African American woman). Thankfully, this has shifted over the years. However, we still have work to do.

Juggling a full-time job while parenting can be difficult. As a single mom, it has been challenging. It helps when managers are empathetic and understand the importance of work-life balance.

What advice do you have for other women in the nuclear industry?

  • Always stand in your truth. We all have core values. Stay true to who you are at the core. 
  • Your most powerful tool is your voice, don’t be afraid to use it.
  • Always do what is right, even if others disagree. You want to be comfortable in your decisions long-term, even if it causes you discomfort in the moment.
  • Don’t let fear paralyze you. Be open to new opportunities, no matter how daunting and fearful they may be.
  • Always remember that failure brings you one step closer to SUCCESS. Don’t let failure define you. Resiliency is a key trait for success.

What does Women’s History Month mean to you?

Women’s History Month is our time to celebrate our accomplishments as women, moms, grandmoms, aunties, sisters, daughters, employees and employers. It’s a time to encourage and uplift one another, as well as look to the future for our own personal and collaborative advancements.