As many regular readers know, my father passed away in January after a lengthy battle with Leukemia. He was a nuclear engineer and I knew very little about what he did during my growing up years. I still know very little about what he did, but I do know he was very good at what he did and he was very well respected for what he did. His work was classified. I was raised with the aura of classified information around almost all interactions with my father. Many conversations that seemed innocuous to me turned a corner that led to “I can’t tell you.” It was hard. I think about that often as I listen to all the news around classified information these days. I wonder what my father would have said about it. He was a news junkie and I miss the opportunity to talk to him about all that is going on in today’s national and international politics. But that isn’t what I set out to write about in this post.
I started to write about compliance in the nuclear industry. What? I know. Off topic. I know nothing about the regulation of the nuclear industry, only that it is an industry that I assume is very highly regulated.
Since my father’s death, his mail has been forwarded to my house. Most of what comes is junk mail – now I get his in addition to my own. But also forwarded is his subscription to the trade publication Nuclear News. It comes wrapped in transparent plastic, so I see what it is and I have generally not opened it. But one recent issue caught my attention: Buyer’s Guide 2017. Really? People shop for nuclear supplies from a magazine’s buyer’s guide? Maybe the industry is not so regulated after all. I ripped open the plastic.
The magazine explains it as follows:
This section, beginning on page 35, lists in alphabetical order the various categories of products, materials, and services that are used in the nuclear industry. Exactly 472 categories are given, each with the names of suppliers offering that item.
Advertisers are noted and their entries appear in magenta with the page number on which their ad can be found. All very convenient for the nuclear shopper.
I decided to test the system. Maybe I did get a little something from my father – he was notorious for his tough but fair design reviews. So, I looked up compliance. The index had a listing for compliance (Compliance Support, Regulatory) and a reference to consultants. The entry for consultants offered no additional guidance, so I noted the code for consultants and flipped to the page where the listings began. Not many consultants advertise in Nuclear News. And not many consultants appear to be primarily regulatory compliance consultants. Most appear to be engineering consultants who advertise, among other skills and qualifications, that they know how to comply with regulatory requirements.
My little diversion into the world of nuclear regulatory compliance was not all that satisfactory. Nor was my experience with the Nuclear News Buyers’ Guide 2017. Perhaps one needs an in-depth understanding of the regulated industry to make sense of such a thing.
Ten years into my business of regulatory compliance for the life insurance industry confirms that a niche is a pretty sweet thing to have. Know the industry you serve, know it well, maintain strong relationships and do the right thing. I think that probably works whether the industry is nuclear power or life insurance. I will stick with life insurance – I am ready to put the Nuclear News Buyers’ Guide 2017 in the recycling bin. I probably won’t open the next issue.