I am mission success: Michelle Reichert
Learn more about CNS President and Chief Executive Officer Michelle Reichert. Please note the photo was taken in 2019, prior to the pandemic.
Take 5 minutes and learn more about Michelle Reichert, CNS's president and chief executive officer.
Michelle Reichert, CNS's president and chief executive officer, is a familiar face, even when it is behind a mask. She was part of the original CNS executive leadership team, but her experience at Pantex and Y-12 precedes the current contractor. Reichert came to Y-12 straight from graduate school, and she gained valuable experience during her 22 years at Y-12. She has been in senior leadership roles at Pantex since 2013.
“My background is varied — Production, ES&H, program management — and I view that as a strength,” she said. Others must too, because in 2020, Reichert became the first woman chief executive officer at Pantex or Y-12, and one of the first in the position within the Nuclear Security Enterprise.
An early adopter and fervent champion of change management (the people side of change), Reichert has demonstrated her commitment to employees as well as continuous improvement throughout her CNS tenure. Read on to learn more about Reichert’s early career aspirations, what she’s cooking up next, and her advice to new employees.
Are you doing what you envisioned as a young adult? If so, describe how you got here.
Ha! Not even close. I thought I would be a performance musician. I played the flute and really enjoyed it. But, I continued in the sciences while in college, and I was good in that area, too. When a fellow student received a summer internship at the University of California at Berkeley, I was really motivated to learn more about internships — and that initially fueled a continued pursuit of sciences. In fact, my first internship was at the Hanford Site in Richland, Washington.
What CNS principle drives you to be successful?
Continuous improvement — because it is vital to meeting the national security priorities of our country. We’re improving our infrastructure to improve working conditions for our employees and enable us to meet our deliverables for the long term; we’re improving ourselves as leaders and employees; and we have teams looking at our processes.
What one thing would your coworkers be surprised to know about you?
In college, I enjoyed — and excelled at — biology, particularly the study of human anatomy and physiology. The courses all involved dissection (yes, including humans), and I found learning about how the body works to be fascinating. Once I put aside my dreams to be a concert flautist, I thought about becoming a forensic pathologist. The Kay Scarpetta detective novels and perhaps the television show Quincy, M.E. (I’m sure many reading this won’t know who Quincy was — just think about the TV show Bones) may have influenced this possible career choice.
What’s your favorite outside of work activity and why?
Family is very important to me, so I’m often catching up with everyone outside of work. I also really enjoy cooking, and we’re all big fans of America’s Test Kitchen and the British Baking Show. Both cooking and family help me unwind. I cook almost every night. Dan, my husband, says he can tell how my day was by how aggressively I chop the vegetables!
What advice would you offer to someone who is starting their career?
Really get engaged — not just with your job, but also in your community or perhaps an affinity group. These other connections will give you a broader perspective beyond your daily responsibilities. Find your passion — both on and off site — then have a plan. Don’t sit on the sidelines. Your perspective is important, so engage, offer your ideas, and stay involved.