As a senior project controls specialist at Harris Nuclear Plant, Sigourney Clark spends a lot of her time ensuring that projects are not just completed on time, but completed within budget.
She refers to her group at the plant near Raleigh, N.C., as the conscience of the project team simply due to their constant running of scenarios to find cost savings. Kind of like the TV show “What Would You Do?”
Clark found herself in a “What Would You Do?” scenario when it came down to a career choice.
Growing up near the plant in the town of Fuquay-Varina, Clark knew it existed, but, like many others, had only heard about nuclear power from movies or news events.
After graduating from North Carolina State University with a bachelor’s degree in business finance and accounting, a recruiter friend working at the plant as a contractor suggested that she put her MBA plans on hold and instead apply for a contractor job with Duke Energy. She was reluctant.
While hesitant about working in a nuclear plant, Clark decided to have faith over fear, and accepted a position at Harris. It’s a decision, seven years later, that she has no regrets about.
“As soon as I got here, I was proven wrong. It was apparent to me that all of the safety culture and worker standards put in place, along with all the knowledgeable people working at Harris gave me the confidence to trust nuclear power.”
Even though most people do not have the opportunity to observe what goes on at a nuclear plant, Clark attributes the Harris Energy & Environmental Center as a great resource for people to learn what goes on in hopes of easing their fears and concerns.
With a new attitude about nuclear, Clark also found her Duke Energy career to be rewarding, not just through additional knowledge about nuclear energy, but also through being able to be a part of the company’s efforts to give back to the community. For the past three years she has coordinated the plant’s Power of Giving campaign, the company’s annual campaign to serve its communities through charitable giving.
“There are so many underserved families in our surrounding areas” Clark said. “One of my proudest moments working in nuclear was probably my third year with the company as we did the usual Christmas giving campaign.”
Usually helping with collecting and coordinating gifts, that year, Clark had was part of the team that delivered the gifts to the families. She recalled that during this time, a family showed up in a car that looked as if they had been living in it, which she said made her feel sad. The team had loaded the family’s car with so many gifts that year that they had to make multiple trips to pick up their gifts.
“The generosity of our teammates is enough to bring tears to my eyes. Harris employees are committed to giving to the less fortunate, even during our own tough times. It’s clear that we are here to provide more than just electricity.”