“We will be able to integrate newcomers easily and fast”

Karl-Heinz joined Fennovoima in 2019 as the I&C Manager. He is heading the unit responsible for Instrumentation and Control, what he calls “the artificial brain of the plant”. In this interview, Karl-Heinz speaks about the instrumentation and control (I&C), tips for candidates and his management style.

Karl-Heinz, what are your thoughts about Fennovoima?

Fennovoima is a young company. It’s very open-minded, and all the people I’ve met so far are truly inspired to cooperate, generate new ideas and optimize work. Everyone is ready to work together with the supplier and give support to get the needed results and to develop a safe and highly reliable I&C solution for the Hanhikivi 1 power plant.

Let’s talk about your team. What is their role in the company?

We have both, our own engineers and consultants. We are about 25 people altogether who cooperate with the supplier to establish the design process that fits regulatory requirements. Our team interacts with many other disciplines like process and safety, mechanical, electrical and civil engineering. We need to be in close contact with them on a daily basis.

You mentioned that you would like to strengthen the team. What are your recruitment criteria?

Basically, we are looking for people who get things done, either in technical or/ and project management issues. For the technical part, we are looking for engineers who are capable to follow the design process of the supplier and support them in regard to safety of the instrumentation and control (I&C) system’s operation and I&C control room design, including human factor engineering. For project management, we need to commit to the project schedule. To achieve this, we cooperate with engineers of different disciplines, set up schedules and follow up key performance indicators, always in line with the needs of our different stakeholders.

What kind of experience should the candidates have? Should it be nuclear experience?

Of course, it would be easiest for us to hire people from the nuclear field, but such specialists are rare. That is why, we are also considering experts who have experience in the field of process automation. We expect you to be open-minded to learn quickly. You should, of course, be able to adapt to nuclear needs, which are very specific, and do so in a reasonable time. We will support you by on-the-job training and provide you with a mentor if needed. With the experts we have, we will be able to integrate newcomers easily and fast.

What can you say about your management style?

I have a “corporate” management style. This means that I predefine certain goals, but we will discuss within the team how we will meet the goals and the deliverables needed. Also, I am very keen on implementing continuous improvement ideas. Like this, we will certainly find the best practice to get things done, as a team.

So, does it mean a consensus-based style?

Yes, we need to have a consensus in the work packages to be successful. To do so, we cooperate very closely and give support to each other regularly. For this reason, I support low hierarchies and an open-door environment. Especially newcomers will get support if they only start their work in the nuclear field. My team and I will provide this support. I encourage internal coaching, as I see it essential in the nuclear field in particular because of its specific qualification and licensing processes.

What tips would you give to candidates who are interested to apply?

It’s important for them to get familiar with nuclear specifics, to understand how I&C in nuclear is working and to envision its goals. In particular, it’s good to check the needs of nuclear safety and of the codes and standards. Also, the candidates need to be ready to learn about the I&C systems which must have fault-free features. Just imagine, it has to function well for 60 years of operation, which is so much longer than in any other industries. To make it happen, people have to see things in a long-term perspective to consider all eventualities.

One more thing, candidates need to be able to check that the system and its components are qualified and fit for their purpose, both for safety and operational aspects. I like to call the I&C “the artificial brain of the power plant”. Still, we are talking about the centralized main I&C, which is typical for energy-producing plants and may be different from other industries. Together with the operators, we have to make sure that our plant is totally safe in any operational state.

Why is work in I&C interesting?

We are in continuous and close contact with all kind of technical disciplines. Also, we have strong interfaces to authorities and its officials.

I can say that our work is both, exciting from technical and project management point of view and very sustainable in the long run. Our goal is to support the complete I&C life cycle covering design, realization, commissioning of the plant and ensuring its stable and long-term safe operation. Even for its operation, we will need highly-skilled people on site because I&C has to be maintained and tested continuously, e.g. on a monthly basis. Thus, we are offering a long-term perspective to have a very interesting and meaningful job in the beautiful country of Finland.