Marc-Antoine Petrilli: from permanent staff to independent consultant

Professional Opinions

July 6, 2017



Marc-Antoine, you have been working in nuclear energy for all your professional life, as a permanent staff and then as a contractor. We want to know everything about your trajectory and your professional choices but first let’s go back to basics:

How did you get interested in the nuclear energy field in the first place?

I happened to go to a Science Exhibition when I was ten years old and visited the Canadian Atomic Energy booth. From then on, I can say I never deviated. I studied physics and engineering, thought about a PhD in Physics but finally decided nuclear engineering was my calling.

What did you do for the first part of your career?

I worked for almost 20 years for Hydro Quebec, I was first hired to work on the commissioning of Nuclear Power Plant Gentilly 2 and ended up leading the Safety and Reliability Department. I was 45 at the time, it was the year 2000 and I wanted to do something different so I decided to go freelance.

Didn’t you have doubts about going freelance?

Not really, I had checked beforehand about potential contracts and everything worked out fine. My main motivation was to not end up jaded and bored with my job. I guess in the end, the challenge was less scary than boredom.

How was it being freelance in Canada?

It went very well, I started off as a 1 person company and I ended up with more than 30 employees. I then sold my company and came back to work in a big engineering firm for two years but the Nuclear Power Plant closed following a political decision. I ended up two years before official retirement age wondering what to do next.

So what did you do?

I thought Middle East offered fresh challenges so when Thomas Thor contacted me for a position in Barakah project, I accepted and moved there. I spent the next two years and a half living and working in a very exciting and international context.  I loved the work I achieved there, especially being up to the big challenge of integrating into such a culturally diverse organization.

What do you do now?

I was very proud to be asked to come back as a consultant, so I am heading there next week actually. I will be happy to enjoy again the immense energy of the site and the contrast provided by the clear views across the desert.


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