Excellent learning and peer-to-peer networking opportunities with a cross-section of the nuclear industry.
The world’s first certified professional development programme for individuals in nuclear security management.
An extensive archive of information on nuclear security, both from WINS and from external sources.
Helping licensees assess the maturity of their security programme and measure their security culture effectiveness.
WINS is thrilled to announce that Ms Pamela West, who is the Nuclear Security Officer for the National Security Advisor in Nigeria, has officially become a WINS Ambassador. Ms West, who completed her WINS programme in May 2021, had already been advocating for her colleagues to get professionally certified through WINS.
In celebrating this development, we sat down with Ms West to further understand her WINS Academy experience and how she sees her role as WINS Academy Ambassador in her local context.
What was your WINS Academy elective? Why did you choose it?
My WINS Academy elective was Nuclear Security Programme Management. I chose this as an elective because I’m from the Office of the National Security Advisor, which is the co-ordinating agency for all national security matters in Nigeria. Clearly, nuclear security is the responsibility of the Nigerian State, therefore, for us, nuclear security is an add-on amongst other responsibilities. So, it was important for me – and for the Office as a co-ordinating agency – to understand how to manage relationships with over 23 national stakeholders in ensuring nuclear security.
There are so many elements of a State’s nuclear security regime. Most of this was previously handled by the Atomic Energy Commission and the regulatory body, but as time went on, it became more obvious that to ensure the security of such nuclear and radioactive material and associated activities in use, storage, or in transport; to combat illicit trafficking and the inadvertent movement of such material; and to be prepared to respond to a nuclear security event, it required a multisectoral, multi-stakeholder approach. The Office in understanding its responsibilities and with the collaboration of all stakeholders became more active in managing both internal and external relationships. I was drawn to that particular elective because it highlighted that type of management responsibility that I needed and allowed me to understand the roles of different stakeholders in the nuclear security sector.
“Getting certified allows people to understand their roles and responsibilities and the overarching goal of achieving nuclear security, which helps ensure that they are performing at their best.”
How did getting certified help you achieve your professional goals?
As I mentioned, because nuclear security was an add-on to the responsibilities of the Office, it gets to a point where you require some validation to the role you play and the role of the Office – particularly when you’re dealing with so many stakeholders and dimensions in nuclear security. The WINS Academy modules came highly recommended and in the coordinating role which the Office plays, completing the modules have improved my knowledge of the sector and also informed the support we provide to stakeholders in terms of capacity building and a risk-informed approach to policy direction in nuclear security. It has also helped me make informed decisions and recommendations to improve Nigeria’s nuclear security regime.
Since I’ve completed the course, I’ve encouraged so many other nuclear security stakeholders to complete the Foundation Module as it provides invaluable knowledge about the nuclear security sector.
“For anyone considering enrolling in a WINS Academy course, I would ask them to go for it immediately. Set apart time to prepare for each module, succeed and encourage more people to do the same.”
What inspired you to become a WINS Academy Ambassador?
Since there can be a competitive edge and overlap of duties among stakeholders, it’s essential for us that there are defined roles and responsibilities, which are very clearly set out in the Foundation Module. There are also internal stakeholders to keep in mind, and it is essential to have clear and seamless communication at all these levels. Getting certified allows people to understand their roles and responsibilities and the overarching goal of achieving nuclear security, which helps ensure that they are performing at their best.
This is why I wanted to be an Ambassador, because I already benefited from this knowledge, and I know some people who are yet to. So I can then recommend the WINS Academy courses to bridge any gaps in their knowledge. Also, I hope that as a WINS Academy Ambassador, I can advocate for more scholarships not only for female nuclear security stakeholders but for the men as well.
For anyone considering enrolling in a WINS Academy course, I would ask them to go for it immediately. Set apart time to prepare for each module, succeed and encourage more people to do the same.
Have you experienced any setbacks in your field as a woman, and if so, what were they?
There is a noticeable gap in women representation in almost every industry, and the nuclear sector is no different in Nigeria. This is something we are very passionate about, and those of us who are female in this industry do our best to try to close that gap. We’re doing our best to raise the bar hoping to inspire other women to do the same.
As a woman, setbacks are inevitable and I have had a few myself. But I have also had many opportunities, and I have fueled each opportunity with lessons learned from so-called setbacks. Being female and a civilian entering a security-led sector presented its unique challenges initially but it also presented some opportunities. For example, there were no other women with nuclear capabilities who I could relate with, most of the females I knew were in other agencies but I had opportunities to be in workshops and trainings with those agencies and built strong relationships and acquired valuable knowledge. Since then, I have learnt that when you have the right tools, an efficient support system, and the commitment to completing tasks, you can surmount any challenge or setback. This is another reason why certification is very important. Certification provides additional tools, validation and confidence that you can achieve what you set your mind to.
What advice would you give women in the nuclear security sector?
Find someone in the sector who looks like you. It’s important to find someone you can relate to and discuss with about their journey, challenges and the steps they took to climb the professional ladder, which can often be quite difficult to do. It’s also important to ask about tools – such as the WINS modules – which would improve effectiveness and efficiency.
While establishing relationships is important outside your organisation, especially where there are few or no role models, it is also important to have good relationships with your colleagues and superiors. Enable them to understand your need for professional development. When you receive certification, improve your output and take on even more responsibilities. Where there is work to be done, do not shrink from it, volunteer to do it to the best of your ability, and seek tools to ensure tasks are done as accurately and professionally as possible.