Amparo Cristóbal


Texts: Beatriz Lamela Pascua| Photo & video: Amparo Cristóbal

Amparo Cristobal has a degree in Physical Sciences from the Complutense University of Madrid. After a few years working in the telecommunications sector, as a hardware designer and telephone systems analyst for Alcatel, she began her nuclear career at the Nuclear Safety Council Sub-Directorate for Operational Radiological Protection. She subsequently moved to Vienna, Austria, joining the International Atomic Energy Agency, where she has been for twelve years.

How many years have you been in your current responsibility at the IAEA?

I have held my current position for twelve years, Specialist in Radiation Safety, Radiation Protection, Transport and Waste Division of the Department of Nuclear Safety of the International Atomic Energy Agency. I started as a consultant and subsequently gained a staff position in 2013. My responsibilities are to help Member States implement IAEA safety standards, mostly to establish a national radiation safety education and training infrastructure.

What are the main activities of your current position?

This assistance to Member States implies developing documents that serve as a guide in a specific area, for example, the establishment of a national strategy for education and training or the training of certain groups, and in other activities, such as the organization of courses, peer reviews, workshops, meetings, expert missions, scientific visits or purchase of equipment, with the objective of disseminating and helping to implement these guide documents to our Member States. We have to offer up-to-date services effectively and according to circumstances. This implies participating in congresses and technical meetings, as well as holding annual meetings of a steering committee, made up of international experts from many countries, who help to advise on the implementation of our strategy for the development of activities.

IRRS Mission, Chile (2018)

Although I have enjoyed participating in Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) missions, such as the one to Chile, conducted in February 2018 (illustrated), and other evaluation missions, I would highlight my participation in the organization of several regional train-the-trainers workshops for radiation protection officers for all the regions. These experiences also have given me the satisfaction of being able to follow the teaching tradition of my parents, my sister and other family members.

The following photos show examples of some of these workshops: Greece (May 2017), Honduras (May 2016), Morocco (November 2018) and Vietnam (June 2018).

The evolution of technology and the situation of the pandemic have led me to re-structure these train-the-trainers workshops, via Webex or Teams, combining synchronous sessions and asynchronous sessions of e-learning content. The following short video presents a snapshot of training presentations developed for these workshops:

IAEA NSRW Training Insight Video

How did the move influence your family / personal life?

The move had a great influence and created a profound improvement to my family and personal life, despite having difficult moments. The fundamental reason that made me decide to move to Vienna was the possibility of offering my daughters an international education and a better future. In this regard, I couldn’t be happier with the result. My daughters have received excellent educational and professional opportunities, that they have taken advantage of, in addition to the advantages offered by an international environment. I also have become very enriched personally, acquiring general skills and increasing my self-esteem and autonomy, but above all, having the opportunity to start a new life.

Experiencing the graduations of my two daughters: Ana (BEng (Hons), University of the West of England, Bristol, July 2016) and Sara (IB, Vienna International School, May 2021) has been an invaluable gift to me.

What are the most significant aspects of your work at the IAEA?

The most significant aspects of my work at the IAEA are the continuous contact with people from a variety of countries and cultures, helping developing countries, which is extremely rewarding, travelling often, having very competitive salaries, and, above all, the satisfaction of working in the main global intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical cooperation in the nuclear field together with experts from all countries.

What details do you miss from Spain?

Apart from my family and friends, I do miss the sympathy and kindness of the Spanish, the language, the light, climate, and cuisine. The access to the Spanish culture is, of course, easier for me, but I am well compensated by Vienna’s excellent offering in all aspects of culture.

Do you invite young people to broaden their professional horizons outside our borders?

Without any doubt, I invite all people to broaden their professional horizons beyond our borders. I think it is very positive personally and professionally and opens possibilities that are not posed to someone who has always lived in the same country. It is great for the kids, guaranteed. Moving from your Country also has a family cost because one is necessarily estranged from some family and friends, but in the increasingly virtual world in which we live, the problem is not so serious, and returning home is only a matter of a certain number of flight hours. I moved to Vienna when I was not so young, something I think is much more difficult than at a younger age, nevertheless, as I have mentioned, it has been a very positive experience which I can highly recommend.

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