June 28, 2010

CERN Appoints an Ombuds

The European Organization for Nuclear Research -- the world's largest particle physics laboratory near Geneva -- has appointed Vincent Vuillemin as its first Ombuds. Following the Organizational Ombuds model, the CERN Ombuds will assist with inter-personal relations while remaining confidential, impartial and independent.

Vuillemin explained,
The ombuds must remain independent, must be capable of withstanding any pressure and must have his career behind him. He must also know how to talk to people from the very different cultural backgrounds represented at CERN. My fourteen years as a group leader or head of department have provided me with management skills that will be useful to me in this new role. To do this job properly you have to have a gift for empathy and you need to be receptive to people's problems. Outside CERN, I am a Buddhist monk and a Zen master. I like to think that I have acquired a certain skill in managing people's problems.

Prior to becoming the Ombuds, Vuillemin was head of CERN's Engineering Department. He earned his PhD in applied physics from EPFL Lausanne and joined CERN as a fellow in 1981. He subsequently worked in a number of staff positions at CERN. (CERN Bulletin.)

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