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This month, WINS spoke with Mr Santiago Sendra, a Nuclear Security Coordinator at the National Atomic Energy Commission and at the INTECNUS Foundation in Argentina and a WINS Academy Ambassador. In early March, Mr Sendra successfully completed his recertification exam by passing the Nuclear Security Incident Management module for the Certified Nuclear Security Professional (CNSP) programme.
During the interview with Mr Sendra, he spoke at length about his key takeaways from his WINS experience and mentioned a number of important nuclear security topics in Argentina and the larger Latin American region.
We first interviewed him nearly two years when became a WINS Academy Ambassador. Read his first interview here.
What did you find most rewarding about your WINS Academy elective?
Because I have a Bachelor’s degree in security management, I was interested in learning material that was different from what I had learned as part of my Bachelor’s programme. WINS opened my eyes to a new world of security. I think that this elective gave me some structure of thinking about security. My Bachelor’s programme had more of a social view of security, while the material that WINS brought to me allowed me to structure my scientific approach to security. In some ways, I felt like I was studying security again as a science. I am constantly telling people that even if they don’t work for the nuclear industry, they should take one of these electives, as it shows you a new path to understanding security.
How have you been able to use what you have learned at WINS in your professional life?
WINS has an amazing collection of best practices, and I use them every day in my job. There is no organisation in the world that can give you all the answers to security questions. But WINS gave me a toolbox to improve myself as a security professional. WINS also gave me a network of professionals I didn’t know existed. I meet people from all around the world from Ghana, the US, the UK, Switzerland . I never had such an opportunity before. I’m able to meet my peers through WINS events and our Ambassador network. We use informal channels such as WhatsApp or Telegram so that we can communicate about some issues that we are facing in the security world.
Sometimes, you need to talk to a peer who is facing the same things you are facing – maybe Argentina is facing the same problems as Africa. By talking to my peers in other countries facing similar challenges, I could understand the first steps to reach a solution.
“We know that clean energies are not yet that developed, so it is very important that people change their minds about nuclear. When you say nuclear energy, everyone thinks about Chernobyl and Fukushima, so we need to communicate to the people all the layers of security in place.”
What are the key nuclear security aspects in Argentina?
In Argentina, we are bringing society to the nuclear industry, and nuclear security is an important part of this. We always try to show the general public that nuclear security is safe and how security professionals make it safe for the public. I am really into the idea that nuclear energy is the only solution in a short period for the energy problems that the world is facing. We know that clean energies are not yet that developed, so it is very important that people change their minds about nuclear. When you say nuclear energy, everyone thinks about Chernobyl and Fukushima, so we need to communicate to the people all the layers of security in place. Misinformation such as a deep fake video about how dangerous nuclear is, could be more of a threat than a terrorist in Argentina.
What are some gaps in nuclear security in Latin America?
The major gap is about networking between security professionals: we don’t know each other, and we don’t have the opportunity to work together. Last week, I talked to a colleague about some type of force-on-force exercises to match our capabilities, and this doesn’t exist in the nuclear security world. By not sharing any information, we are losing a lot of important experiences.
“WINS is the answer to a question you didn’t even know you had.”
Now that you’ve been a WINS Ambassador for two years, what are some things you’ve done to get more people to become learners at the Academy?
I talk about WINS at every opportunity I have – at events, in meetings at work, during classes about security – and how they make a difference. Before WINS, there were no opportunities to study nuclear security in the correct manner.
I try to not only be a WINS Ambassador but also a role model. I’m very happy that we have a very large number of Alumni in Argentina. I have the opportunity to coach a security guard who completed a WINS elective and is now a nuclear security professional. He’s the first security guard who is also a nuclear security professional in Argentina – his accomplishment is my greatest accomplishment.
What advice would you give somebody who is about to enrol in a WINS Academy course?
A lot of patience – you won’t understand everything from day one. After you take the exam and become certified, you also must have perseverance and continue studying. There is always something new to learn. When the opportunity comes, you have to be prepared. And WINS allows you the opportunity to be prepared at an international level for security of all kinds.
WINS is the answer to a question you didn’t even know you had. There is a reality when you do things as a routine and do the same things every day – things work more or less, and you don’t worry. When an institute like WINS tells you to look at certain aspects and shows different ways of doing things, then you realise there were many different things you did not think of.