Future 50
A New Generation of Leaders Arrives

For coordinating a safe nuclear future

Scale and complexity might be reason to retreat for some. But it’s part of what drew Diletta Invernizzi to the nuclear decommissioning industry. 

“It’s hard to find projects more complex than the ones in the nuclear industry, which always requires new ideas and smart people able to transform these ideas into deliverable solutions,” she says. 

Invernizzi relies on a wealth of experience to get the job done. Previously, as a PhD researcher at University of Leeds, she developed a benchmarking methodology to investigate the characteristics of nuclear decommissioning projects. She has also served as a rapporteur for the Nuclear Energy Agency and has contributed to more than 10 publications and global conferences.

It also takes serious coordination—pulling together some of the sharpest minds on the planet across an incredible number of interrelated specialized disciplines, including physics, chemistry, engineering and economics. Project managers and other project leaders also need to understand that to deliver innovative solutions in a safety-driven and innovation-averse field such as the nuclear one is not only a technical challenge, but also a social and behavioral challenge that can be overcome only by keeping an open mindset, Invernizzi says. And, of course, all of this must be done while meeting rigorous safety requirements.

“It’s hard to find projects more complex than the ones in the nuclear industry.”

Q&A: Diletta Invernizzi on thinking critically, virtual reality and Julius Caesar

What’s your philosophy for leading projects?

Understand and reach agreement on the scope of the project, get to know the people who are working on it and their roles, and be ready to listen to suggestions to ultimately make better decisions.

What’s one way managing projects will have changed by 2030?

Managing projects might be done more and more remotely. 3D computer-aided drawings will be linked to virtual reality, and planning of the work will be based on robust computer simulations based on larger pools of data. I also believe paperwork will be considerably reduced, and apps will substitute daily diaries. One thing that will not change, though, is the need to think critically and still challenge the solutions proposed by computer algorithms.

What famous or historic person would you want on your project team?

Having Julius Caesar in my team would be formidable, as I imagine him as a charismatic and energetic team leader, always leading by example, and supporting his teammates through any difficulties.