As head of sales for URENCO, Kirk Schnoebelen is responsible for marketing and sales for the largest uranium enrichment company in the western world, with more than $1.7 billion in annual revenues. URENCO’s portfolio includes contracts to supply fuel to more than 50 nuclear utilities in 19 countries, with commitments beyond 2025 having a total value of $17.5 billion.
Schnoebelen played a crucial role in enabling URENCO and the energy companies it has partnered with to construct and operate the National Enrichment Facility in New Mexico—the first enrichment plant built in the United States in 30 years. This facility continues to expand and provides about one-third of nuclear fuel used in the United States, or the energy used to power about 1 out of 10 light bulbs. Enrichment facilities are extremely capital-intensive to build, and he was responsible for establishing a sufficient portfolio of contracts with U.S. nuclear utilities to support the multi-billion-dollar investment. His work on the project, which stretched over years, involved developing and executing a marketing plan, working with partners and drafting and negotiating contracts to make the world’s newest and most modern uranium enrichment facility a reality.
After earning his UW-Madison bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering in 1982 and his nuclear engineering master’s degree in 1984, Schnoebelen worked in engineering roles at various utility companies. He received an MBA from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Business in 1997 and went on to work in nuclear fuel procurement/project management at Northern States Power (now Xcel Energy) and then in technical sales and marketing at Cameco Corporation. He became president of URENCO Inc. in 2006 and head of sales for URENCO in 2014.
In addition to preparing him for engineering roles, Schnoebelen says his UW-Madison education also fostered a broad skillset that has proven valuable throughout his career. “Working in procurement/project management and then technical sales would have been very difficult without an engineering background, but absolutely impossible without the communication skills I learned at UW-Madison through labs, projects and a healthy dose of non-engineering courses,” he says. “I’ve also been lucky in crossing paths with fellow alumni in the most unlikely situations. Sharing a UW experience usually provides instant mutual credibility.”
Schnoebelen is a former board member of the Nuclear Energy Institute, a key nuclear energy lobbying group. He lives in Fairfax, Virginia, with his wife, Judy, whom he met at UW-Madison. They have two adult children, Kyle (24) and Sam (21). In his free time, he enjoys traveling, running, yoga and hiking.