Gary M. Mignogna
Gary Mignogna is the President and Chief Executive Officer of AREVA Inc., the U.S.-based subsidiary of global energy company AREVA Group. Mignogna’s career with the company began when he was a student working through his university’s co-op program. Through his years at the company, he built technical experience in engineering design and analyses, services tooling and equipment design, and component and welding engineering. To this foundation, Mignogna added project engineering, product line management, and business development. As he demonstrated and honed his strong leadership skills, Mignogna advanced to executive positions of greater responsibility and was selected to lead AREVA Inc. in June 2014.
Mignogna has consistently demonstrated a strong commitment to Operational Excellence through a number of initiatives launched under his leadership. He led the implementation in the U.S. of AREVA’s certification program for Engineering Qualification – modeled after the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) program. As the first to implement this program, he drove a shared culture of safe, high quality, on-time project delivery and performance for AREVA’s customers. Mignogna is also the founding sponsor of the AREVA Voyager program to develop up-and-coming leaders in engineering.
Mignogna has been a member of the Nuclear Energy Institute’s (NEI) Nuclear Strategic Issues Advisory Committee since 2007, a member of NEI’s Materials Executive Oversight Group from 2003 to 2009, and on the Industrial Advisory Board of Old Dominion University’s Applied Research Center for Lasers and Plasmas for Advanced Manufacturing (in conjunction with the National Science Foundation) from 2002 to 2005. He is currently a member of the NEI Board of Directors, Executive Committee, and Nominating Committee, and is currently the Chairman of INPO’s Supplier Participant Advisory Committee. He has also held numerous positions on non-profit boards and the University of North Carolina Charlotte’s Lee College of Engineering Leadership Academy Advisory Board, and is currently on the Board of Trustees of the Academy Center for the Arts in Lynchburg, Va. He is a strong supporter of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education outreach initiatives in the communities near AREVA’s U.S. locations, including sponsorship of STEM academies, summer learning loss prevention programs, and engineering summer camps for high school girls.
Mignogna earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Drexel University, and received a Master of Business Administration from Lynchburg College. In 2015, Mignogna was inducted into the Drexel 100, which is the University’s alumni hall of fame.
If we want to continue to grow our Gross Domestic Product (GDP), it has to be done through innovation. Most innovations come from our STEM workforce. Many of the innovations we strive for are productivity improvements, which include advancements in technologies, systems and processes.
Our future and current workforce must have high quality technical skills for us to compete globally. The United States is losing its global technical edge, and we have to regain it. At AREVA, we start by fostering a culture of Operational Excellence. Certain industries are very unforgiving when it comes to making errors – the medical, aerospace and nuclear industries in particular demand exceptional levels of safety, quality, performance and project delivery. It’s especially critical to high-tech industries, like the energy industry, that we hire the best and brightest candidates that can achieve this culture of excellence. And it doesn’t stop once we hire the best STEM candidates.
At AREVA, Operational Excellence also means continuous improvement. To that end, we continue to improve competence through our engineering qualification program and pay for employees to pursue advanced degrees so they remain globally competitive. The more educated our workforce is, the more innovative we will be.
I think, first, we need to put even more focus on early childhood development. We have to get students interested in STEM subjects in elementary school because by the time they are in high school, it’s too late.
Students who want a STEM career need to be in advanced placement or dual enrollment programs during high school. And the foundation for the high school STEM programs must be laid in middle school, so students have the math and science basics mastered to qualify for the advanced programs. A high school graduate without these advanced programs often needs remedial classes to be eligible for entry into STEM programs in college. Remedial classes add time and additional tuition expenses, so many students stop pursuing STEM in higher education at this point.
Students must have a strong support network to navigate the college application and financial aid processes. Students from underprivileged families can get help applying for college and financial assistance through regional programs, some of which we are also a proud supporter.
Additionally, gender expectations start early with the purchase of toys that are gender-specific. Boys and girls need to be introduced to STEM early on, and parents can achieve this by providing STEM educational toys to both their daughters and sons.
The key to smart STEM investments is to pick a few programs that are sustainable and focus efforts locally to develop an unrestricted pipeline for candidates’ early career success.
We partnered with Central Virginia Community College to offer the CVCC Technical Program, a two-year technical education in Nuclear Technologies, including machining and welding degrees. Students completing the program and hired into these technical positions have enjoyed great success in their careers at AREVA. These STEM trade positions are critical to our workforce in the energy industry. Not everyone has to have a four-year degree to have a well-paid career.
We need to partner with educators on initiatives and programs that facilitate mentorship relationships and create opportunities for apprenticing. For example, the CVCC Technical Program and a program called Produced in Virginia are both apprenticeship programs supported by AREVA. The Produced in Virginia program is a partnership between CVCC and the University of Virginia (UVA) that enables students to earn an associate degree at CVCC in Engineering and then transfer to earn a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at UVA. AREVA pays 100 percent of the tuition for these students, provides internships while they take classes, and hires qualified students when they graduate.
We also hire technical interns and co-operative education students for three- to six-month rotations. If these students become AREVA employees, they already understand our values and culture and know the importance of delivering on our commitment to Operational Excellence. In all of these initiatives, we ensure there is a great deal of intentional interaction between experienced employees and those employees new to the industry.
Another example is in North Carolina, where we partnered with other industry leaders and the University of North Carolina Charlotte (UNCC) to develop the Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC) to promote studies in the energy industry. We hire many UNCC interns and graduates.
Being engaged with the local educators, colleges, and universities is the key.