When Pamela Naidoo- Ameglio joined ANSTO six weeks ago as Group Executive, Nuclear Operations, she became the third female on the Executive Leadership Team, joining Dr Simone Richter (Nuclear Science & Technology and Landmark infrastructure), and Jayne Senior (Nuclear Medicine).
With an extensive background in mining technology and geoscience in corporate roles in Africa and Australia, she took over the role of supervising the operation of the OPAL multipurpose reactor and waste management services — overseeing several hundred staff.
Naidoo-Ameglio has spent her first month taking part in onboarding and induction processes as well as getting to know the team.
“My focus has been on meeting people and getting to know what they do,” said Naidoo-Ameglio,
Nuclear Operations at ANSTO encompasses all activities associated with the running of the reactor and waste management services , which includes engineering and maintenance, reactor utilisation, reactor operations, licensing and regulation, technical support and nuclear analysis.
She is grateful to have come into an organisation with an excellent record in days of operation, safety and regulatory compliance but has started to think about greater efficiencies.
“It is fantastic to come in and see how smoothly things are run but it is also about how we maximise the space in the reactor, and minimise the interactions of people at the pool top,” said Naidoo-Ameglio.
Naidoo-Ameglio is aware she is working in a highly regulated industry but does not consider it vastly different from other industries.
“The frequency with which we engage with regulators is greater. From an environmental and health and safety perspective, the requirements are consistent across industries.”
Naidoo-Ameglio is very comfortable around nuclear technology, having lived and worked in close proximity to the Pelindaba nuclear reactor in Johannesburg.
“Nonetheless, the reactor at ANSTO is an impressive sight.”
After more than 20 years in the mining sector, Naidoo-Ameglio was ready to apply her skills in a new area.
With a background in science, the production of nuclear medicine and scientific research was very appealing,” said Naidoo-Ameglio.
She is not someone to be daunted by a challenge, having been one of the first women to work underground in mining in South Africa.
“And the first woman of colour, which was even more of a shock to mining community.”
She believes the benefits of a diversified and inclusive workforce bring flexibility and responsiveness to the workforce.
She saw firsthand how diversity contributed to stability when an Australian-British mining company she was working for was bought by a Chinese mining group.
“Because different parts of the team had different strengths, it made the group more resilient.”
“I am very interested in how we make people from different backgrounds feel comfortable.”
It is also important to her, to be part of a culture where everyone’s contribution is valued and respected.
There were obstacles and challenges early in her career working in mining in South Africa as when she was a university student it was illegal for women to work underground in a mine.
By the time she entered the workforce as a professional geologist, the law was repealed but there were few facilities for women.
“We improvised. I was fortunate to have support from my colleagues,” said Naidoo-Ameglio.
She said and things have improved greatly since then with respect to the workforce, management and boards.
Naidoo-Ameglio is now a board member and director of numerous organisation, including being a former Committee Member of the NSW Mining Council Women in Mining.
She is committed to continuing professional development and mentoring and shares her own articles on her LinkedIn.
Naidoo-Ameglio is a past President of the Geological Society of South Africa and was founding Chairperson of Women in Mining South Africa.
“I am delighted to welcome Pamela to the Executive team, whose considerable expertise and experience will be applied to the operation of our multipurpose reactor,” said CEO Adi Paterson.