On Wednesday, Feb. 2, students and alumni gathered in the LeCraw Auditorium of the Management building to hear Admiral James O. Ellis, Jr. speak on “Energy, Prosperity, and Leadership” as part of the weekly IMPACT series.
Ellis completed 39 years in the Navy in 2004. His career included services as a naval fighter pilot, commander of the USS Abraham Lincoln, a nuclear powered aircraft carrier and commander of the U.S. Strategic Command.
Along with holding a bachelor’s degree from the US Naval Academy, Ellis, MS AE ‘70, is a member of the Tech’s Engineering Hall of Fame as of 2005.
Ellis is president and CEO of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO), a nonprofit organization which monitors and promotes the safety and excellence of nuclear electric generating plants in the United States.
INPO is sponsored by the commercial nuclear industry.
“Energy generates prosperity,” Ellis said in his speech.
For every one percent increase in per capita income, a 0.5 percent increase in electric generating capacity is required. In the U.S., nuclear energy accounts for 20 percent of electricity generated annually. In France, on the other hand, 80 percent of annual electricity consumption is due to nuclear energy.
Ellis pointed out, however, that approximately 25 percent of the world has no access to electricity, which means that basic needs of health and well being are not being met globally.
Nuclear energy will lead to economic success and prosperity, and is also “an essential element to democratization around the world,” Ellis said.
Tech students wanted to know what the issues were concerning nuclear waste and whether or not the U.S. should be concerned with non-democratic countries around the world that are presently developing commercial nuclear industries.
Ellis discussed the importance of recycling the byproducts of energy generation, and said these nondemocratic countries must place value on a culture of safety. They must be able to question authority to ensure that proper safety measures are in place and upheld.
Along with his discussion of energy options and the economy, Ellis also shared his views on leadership and teamwork with Tech students.
“Leadership isn’t management. You manage things and processes, and you lead people,” Ellis said.
“Don’t fake it. You cannot be what you are not, but [you] can change what you are. You have to find out for yourself what your leadership style is and modify what you don’t like about it,” Ellis said of practicing and finding different leadership styles.
To Ellis, leadership is a process of continuous learning.
“It is amazing what you can learn by dropping yourself into something that is not your comfort zone,” Ellis said.
“In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists,” Ellis said, quoting author and philosopher Eric Hoffer.
Ellis presently serves on the board of directors for Lockheed Martin Corporation.
Additionally, Ellis has recently served as a Presidential Appointee on the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board and has functioned as a member of the Military Advisory Panel for the Iraq Study Group.
The IMPACT Speaker series, which brings business leaders to campus to share experiences and to offer advice to students and to other entrepreneurs, occurs every Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. in the LeCraw Auditorium of the Management building.