I am mission success: Sean L.

  • Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2024, 12:06 pm

Sean L., Y-12 Nuclear Maintenance Services director
Take 5 minutes to learn about Sean L., Y-12 Nuclear Maintenance Services director. All views and opinions are the employee’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of CNS.

Sean L. brings experience as both an engineer and a naval officer to his job at Y-12.

Unlike for some people, Mondays don’t get him down.

“I love them,” he said. “Mondays are what set the pace for the entire week. If you have a great Monday, you will have a great week.”

He spends his work weeks as the director of Y-12 Nuclear Maintenance Services, which has a large presence on the site.

“We have about 440 people in this organization,” he said. “We pretty much do everything, everywhere. We are practically in all of the facilities in the valley. We maintain various machinery and equipment, perform new machine demos, revive older pieces, and install new technology. We make sure everything is operational and mission-ready to support the work.”

Sean has hit the ground running since he arrived at Y-12 in October of 2023. Before that, he was at Savannah River Nuclear Solutions in South Carolina, where he was manager of Quality Assurance and Assessments and NNSA Operations and Programs. He was also the manager for the Savannah River Tritium Enterprise, which is a part of the Nuclear Security Enterprise.

Although the work he did at Savannah River was important, it was much different than the scope of tasks at Y-12.

“It’s the complexity of the work and the integration of all of the missions in one location,” he said. “This was very surprising to me. When I was at Savannah River, it was about environmental management. It was cleanup-based. Coming from there to here is like going from junior high to college.”

Sean also brings to Y-12 his experience as an engineer, a naval officer, and a subject-matter expert in nuclear propulsion plant operation, construction maintenance, regulatory compliance oversight, quality assurance, and project management.

“I came into a great situation,” he said. “It doesn’t always happen that way. This group I work with is high-functioning and dedicated to achieving mission excellence. Every day, this team reels off win after win.”

Leading people is his passion. He added, “But it’s not just about me leading them but also about learning from them, and hopefully they are learning something from me. This creates a place where we can all grow and succeed.”

How has working for CNS changed or reinforced your thoughts on our mission (nuclear deterrence, managing the stockpile, etc.)?
Working here has definitely reinforced my confidence in the state of our stockpile. At Y-12, I see the people are going in the same direction. They are not sitting on the sidelines saying, ‘This isn’t my job,’ if something needs to done. I never knew before I got into the DOE system how many people have to come together to support the nation’s stockpile.

Why is it important we hold ourselves accountable in our daily tasks?
We have to own the things we do. We are accountable to ourselves and our production customers. When it comes down to it, we are accountable to the nation. We don’t have an opportunity to not get it right. We don’t work at Chick-fil-A––if you forget to put a pickle on a sandwich, it’s not that big of a deal. If we forget something here, that’s a bad day.

What is one thing your coworkers would be surprised to know about you?
I raise miniature goats. I love them. I have a little farm with a couple dozen of them. They are cute little guys. Can’t have a bad day when you’re outside with the goats.

What’s your top bucket list item and why?
I want to go to the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee on my motorcycle. That would be really cool. I used to do a lot of bike trips. I’ve ridden several thousand miles in a month. One of longest trips was from Newport News, Virginia to New York.

What work advice would you offer someone who is new to Pantex or Y-12?
Listen and always seek to understand [the situation, other perspectives, etc.] when there is a problem or an issue. That way, you can participate in the solution. Also, be open to the idea that there is a better way sometimes, and compromise isn’t failure. You might think you have the right answer, but you have to be open to alternative solutions.