Cory Hicks

Hicks

Business services director

Four Rivers Nuclear Partnership, deactivation and remediation contractor

U.S. Department of Energy's Paducah Site

Age: 37

Education: Bachelor of science from Murray State University; Master of Public Administration, Oklahoma University.

Some of Hicks' professional accomplishments include:

n Four Rivers Nuclear Partnership, LLC (FRNP) employs United Steel Workers (USW) at the Paducah site. The craft workers are managed under collective bargaining agreements (CBA) between USW and FRNP and one of FRNP's subcontractors. Led a team to develop a complicated strategy to combine these CBAs. Once the strategy was established, helped develop a document to secure approval from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). This complex document was approved by DOE without any edits in record time and DOE reported that it was the best submittal they had seen.

n In coordination with other prime DOE contractors, successfully led efforts within the Fluor project to transfer assets to the Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization (PACRO). Helped establish a strong relationship between the community organization and the federal government, while also bolstering economic development for the region. These and other efforts resulted in the business services category being the highest graded category by DOE in the first quarter of fiscal year 2017.

n As chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield (KY-01), Washington, D.C., developed, managed, and, ultimately, persuaded DOE to implement an idea to re-enrich Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride (DUF6) so that the federal government could reap millions of dollars of benefits while retaining 1,200 jobs and creating an expected 400 jobs in Western Kentucky. Also successfully advocated and secured for Congressman Whitfield nearly $320 million for legacy cleanup activities at the Paducah site for Fiscal Year 2014. Also worked closely with the House Appropriations Committee to secure millions in funding for the environmental remediation work as well as the construction and ultimate startup of the DUF6 Conversion facility.

A few of the organizations he has been involved in:

n Worked with congressmen and Senator McConnell's office to designate the Quilt Museum in downtown Paducah as the National Quilt Museum.

n Board member of the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce, serving as the chairman of the business advocacy committee.

n Served on Kentucky's Taste of the South Committee in Washington, D.C., which raised over $100,000 for charity by promoting southern states.

What is the biggest challenge for a young leader in today's workplace?

Millennials became the largest generation this year, numbering 73 million people according to CBS News. According to the PEW Research Institute, millennials became the largest labor force in 2016. The biggest challenge in our workplace today is managing the changing dynamics as our labor force embraces, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, the next generation of leaders.

Some refer to millennials as entitled, lazy and disloyal, while others refer to them as driven, unwavering in their beliefs and ambitious. As a millennial myself, I prefer the latter. Nevertheless, to attract top talent, businesses must understand this generation and provide them the direction and feedback they need to lead our businesses and country.

Unfortunately, many industries are ill-prepared for the loss of many Baby Boomers who are retiring in record numbers, leaving knowledge gaps that will no-doubt impact our economy. I believe losing Baby Boomers to retirement will have an impact, but I also believe that millennials (for the most part) are ready to step up to the challenge if given the opportunity. I am fortunate that my current and previous employers have taken a risk on me by putting me in challenging roles, and I would urge other businesses to do the same. As John F. Kennedy said, "We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world or make it the last."

I believe this quote still applies today.

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?

The art of communication is a characteristic that every leader should possess. In my line of work, poor communication can have a devastating impact, but good communication ensures that our industrial work promotes the safety and security of our workers.

Thankfully, communication is a skill that you can learn and improve on to benefit yourself and your career. Everyone has their own communication style and while some people believe that communication is merely talking, I firmly believe that communication is more about listening. By listening to others, we can see each other's side and work to find a middle ground or a compromise to advance whatever cause is being discussed.

Unfortunately, we as a country have failed at communication in recent years. In the days of "fake news" and social media, opposing sides of a particular issue all too often resort to their respective corners to complain about each other rather than sit down and work out differences. I believe that our country needs to get back to good old fashion debates rather than hiding behind 280 characters on twitter. Ronald Reagan was dubbed the Great Communicator. He provided this great insight which we would do well to heed in today's environment, "I've always believed that a lot of the trouble in the world would disappear if we were talking to each other instead of about each other."

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

Completing my master's degree in public administration, while taking night classes after work in Washington, D.C., was challenging, yet rewarding. Through this program, I learned management skills and improved my written and verbal communication skills, which has proven useful in my role as the business services director for Four Rivers Nuclear Partnership.

At our project, I am also blessed to work with several on our leadership team who have worked all over the world. Hearing their experiences has enabled me to do better and grow as a leader.

I also recently participated in the Harvard Business Review Young Leader Program, where I learned how to be a better leader while honing my management skills in difficult circumstances. This program taught me about "emotional intelligence," which is the ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions to motivate yourself and others.

Despite my professional growth, one of the most humbling and rewarding personal growth opportunities I've had in recent years is shaping the hearts and minds of my son, Coleman, who is 6, and my daughter, Bella, who is 4. I never thought that raising my wonderful children with my wife, Trisha, would enable me to learn more about myself, but it certainly has done so. Through this experience, I have experienced what it means to have patience, which has benefited me greatly.

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