"I've never looked back"
Three years at ITER, and another three as the Director of the adjacent CEA Cadarache centre ... Pascale Amenc-Antoni has seen the ITER Project evolve from the inside. She was one of the early actors for ITER in France, working to bring the project to Cadarache, creating Agence Iter France and helping to design and staff the administration of the young ITER Organization. Today, she is Senior Advisor to the ITER Director-General.
After what she calls an "accidental start in energy," Pascale Amenc-Antoni became Director of CEA Cadarache. Today she is Senior Advisor to the ITER Director-General Kaname Ikeda.
Pascale had something of an accidental start in energy. After earning degrees in law and political science, she was recruited by a weekly publication on the oil and gas industries. "As a journalist I learned to ask questions, listen to the answers and take notes—a skill that serves me well today," she recalls. When the 1973 oil crisis hit she found herself in the midst of game-changing economic, strategic and political issues. "I took a turn toward energy at that time, and the truth is I've never looked back."
In 1983, she joined the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) in Communications—the beginning of a 23-year collaboration. She rose to become Director of Communications, Director of Human Resources and finally Cabinet Director for the CEA Chairman, where she was the interface between department heads and the Chairman, and spokesperson for the outside world. "Working for the CEA, it was possible to have more than one career," says Pascale, looking back. In 2003, she was asked to take the operational reins of a CEA centre. She agreed, "but only if it's Cadarache."
Pascale was given a special mission as Director of CEA Cadarache: help win the international ITER Project. Pascale was instrumental in rallying the local players behind the candidacy—the PACA region, six departments, and Greater Aix. Their pledge of EUR 467 million for the ten-year ITER construction phase complimented France and Europe's engagements, and contributed to the selection of Cadarache as the ITER site in June 2005.
Pascale created the French technical and financial agency for ITER—Agence Iter France—and its Welcome Office in October 2005. In parallel, she co-founded and presided a "clean energy collaboration" (Pôle de Compétitivité) for the PACA region. Managing CEA Cadarache, the brand-new Agence Iter France (AIF), and the Pôle "was a lot" for one person. In April 2006 she left the direction of the CEA Centre to devote her energies to ITER at AIF. But when she was offered the position of Assistant DDG for Administration in October, she accepted. "To join the ITER Organization at such an early stage was an exceptional opportunity," says Pascale. "In three years we've gone from being just a handful, to 400 staff plus subcontractors." She was active in the negotiations for the ITER Headquarters Agreement, and in building the Administration team until becoming Senior Advisor to Mr. Ikeda in March 2008.
Pascale is responsible for regular interaction with French, European and local instances involved with the ITER Project. She helped conclude the Monaco Partnership Arrangement, she participates in local informational sessions on ITER for the public (Commission Locale d'Information), and keeps in close contact with the High Representative for ITER in France (Haut Représentant pour la réalisation en France du project ITER), Agence Iter France and the international school. In addition, since June she has been the acting head of the Security Section, replacing Jean-Louis Faure who is absent on illness.
Pascale's 35-year career can be summed up in one word—energy.
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