Photo of SRNS Executive speaking to Mentorship Program Cohort
Savannah River Nuclear Solutions Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Sean Alford congratulates the third graduating cohort on completing the SRNS 1:1 Mentorship Program.

AIKEN, S.C. – On Aug. 23, nearly 75 employees graduated from an EM contractor’s third and largest 1:1 Mentorship Program cohort. Established last year, the six-month program promotes on-site safety and facilitates employee professional development in crucial areas of the Savannah River Site (SRS).

“SRS has a strong track record and history of performance that has prepared us to evolve rapidly in order to meet the needs of the nuclear industry,” said Sean Alford, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) executive vice president and chief administrative officer. “We commend those that choose to enroll in this program and further their capacity professionally or share their expertise through mentorship. I hope this cohort continues to pursue new opportunities that will leave a fingerprint on this organization.”

The 1:1 Mentorship Program is a continued effort by SRS in succession-planning, adding diverse leaders to the workforce and preserving critical missions. Over 180 employees have successfully completed the program while exploring new areas of the site and connecting with mentors outside of their own organizational sphere.

“Fifty-three percent of SRNS employees possess less than five years of on-site experience, which makes the availability of mentorship opportunities extremely important,” said Anitra McManus, SRNS program developer and manager. “This initiative fosters relationships between unlikely mentor-mentee pairs spanning various functional organizations.”

Site Service Human Capital Manager and Mentor Mike Violette believes the 1:1 Mentorship Program helps sustain the successful workplace and safety culture established by SRS contractors throughout history.

“We have a short period of time to onboard a large number of people to keep SRNS missions moving forward,” said Violette. “I’d like to challenge mid-to-senior level managers to take the leap and adopt a mentee. The future of our workforce depends on our ability to further these solutions, create new opportunities for employees to network across the site and build stronger workplace relationships.”

Photo of two men at podium
Mentor Mike Violette, left, and Mentee Zachary Burckhalter, right, were one of many pairs that graduated from the third 1:1 Mentorship Program cohort.

“Mike, my mentor, let me run the show and gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever received from the managerial level,” said Zachary Burckhalter, assistant first line manager, SRNS Maintenance and Outage Support. “This experience shows the importance of accepting new challenges, improving my professional skills and increasing my communication with other employees across the site.”

The 1:1 Mentorship Program contains a combination of activities that include: monthly meetings between mentor and mentee, the creation of a developmental action plan, knowledge-sharing sessions facilitated by senior and executive leaders, midpoint review sessions and a variety of safety topics. The fourth cohort is planned to begin in February 2024.

-Contributor: Mackenzie McNabb