Ep 140: Howard Shearer - Chief Executive Officer, Hitachi Canada
1 - 00:40
Q: How did you get into nuclear energy?
A: Howard Shearer, currently the CEO of Hitachi Canada, is originally from Jamaica and was first exposed to nuclear energy on a school trip to McMaster University, which has an on-campus nuclear reactor. Shearer eventually decided to attend McMaster University and first got into electrical engineering. Shearer then transitioned into the component sector, first working for Erie in Pennsylvania, in the high voltage power supply industry, and then Texas Instruments in the semiconductor industry. After that, Howard Shearer moved on to the sales department at Hitachi, working his way up through management across all sectors of the business. Hitachi has a strong presence in the nuclear industry, developing its own nuclear technology and supporting the implementation of others.
2 - 06:30
Q: How has Hitachi been able to be successful across so many industry sectors in so many countries?
A: Howard Shearer credits the success of the company to the fundamental core within Hitachi, which is the culture and value system, Harmony, Sincerity, and Pioneering Spirit. Diversity in technology and expertise improves the company’s ability to provide solutions to clients across the globe. Today’s customers require have problems that need input from different sectors brought together to leverage a solution. Corporate responsibility and the ability to impact the next generation is on the forefront of Hitachi’s radar.
3 - 12:22
Q: What is Hitachi looking for in the next generation of nuclear energy?
A: Howard Shearer recognizes that in order to reach the goals for reduction of greenhouse gases, nuclear power is necessary. Hitachi is part of the supply chain that makes nuclear energy possible. Technical possibilities in the future could include food production, desalination, and electrification, which could have crucial impacts in developing countries. There are also medical applications for nuclear technology. Shearer is a strong proponent of increasing the information shared with the public, to improve the perceptions of the social, economic, environmental impacts of nuclear energy. There is space for renewable energy in the overall goal of decreasing greenhouse gas emission, and the combination of renewable energy and nuclear can be successful.
4 - 19:06
Q: How can the nuclear industry promote its environmental benefits?
A: Howard Shearer anticipates nuclear contributing to many different sectors to benefit society, especially as global population increases and the potential for the future generation’s standard of living. Safe, reliable, and environmentally sound designs are vital to the success of reactor deployment, and must be complete before deployment. Deployment also requires economical design and planned funding. Shearer expects the next nuclear renaissance to be centered around small modular reactors (SMR’s).
5 - 24:56
Q: Does your organization have the ability to scout upcoming technologies, with the opportunity to invest, acquire, or inject it with capital?
A: Howard Shearer recognizes that the long-term success of a company requires growth, but Hitachi, which consists of approximately 985 companies under different sectors, does not have the time to scale organically internally and often grows instead in acquisitions, collaborations, and investments. Business culture must grow and adapt as well. Compliance and technology must also work hand-in-hand to fulfill the client’s needs, especially as it relates to secure data. There is a constant security challenge surrounding utilities and the benefits and risks of utility monitoring. The nuclear industry has been a leader in building secure infrastructure.
6 - 30:43
Q: What leads you to get involved with boards outside of Hitachi and how do you keep up with so many commitments?
A: Howard Shearer is on the board for the Canadian Nuclear Laboratory and the Canadian Nurses Foundation. Research and development is vital to the success of nuclear energy and medical radioisotopes. Shearer values participation in organizations that increase the quality of life in our society. This participation also provides Shearer an opportunity to interact with people in different sectors and hear their viewpoint, which provides lessons learned for him as an individual and as a business executive.
7 - 34:23
Q: What will happen to the nuclear sector in the next couple decades?
A: Howard Shearer believes that a scientific approach combined with a political and social approach will solve most of the current problems in the nuclear industry. Shearer enjoys teaching the next generation about nuclear energy and looks forward to the contributions of future technologies.