What made you apply to Nuclear Graduates? Why did the Nuclear Graduates programme stand out?
The programme offers a wealth of opportunities within the two years. From the experience a Nuclear Graduate naturally attains over at least three different secondments, to the professional courses, workshops, and conferences, you’ll find yourself developing both soft and technical skills very quickly. The programme also facilitates network building opportunities not only with the experienced experts you meet through the aforementioned secondments and events but also with other like-minded young and ambitious people in the rest of the Nuclear Graduates’ cohorts. The opportunities for travel to learn and develop both within the UK and abroad also stood out to me as not many other programmes can offer this.
What kind of work do you do as a (chemist, mechanical engineer etc). Describe some key projects you have worked on during your secondments.
As part of my first secondment at Magnox Oldbury site, I was tasked with leading a project encompassing experimental trials of waste conditioning (drying) equipment and processes. The trials were required by another decommissioning organisation under the NDA umbrella, Sellafield, therefore efficient collaboration with a combination of both internal and external stakeholders was critical for the success of the project. It was also a great opportunity to benefit both Magnox and Sellafield, further aligning both of their objectives through the OneNDA initiative.
After detailing the scope with the engineering team and programme manager, I got to work on developing the schedule and cost estimate with the project controls team. I presented this information as part of my plan for the concept phase of the project to the Sellafield Project Manager. As this was a time critical project, due to Sellafield’s deadlines, I worked closely with a commercial function lead to develop the sole source commercial strategy which was then successfully approved. I was also simultaneously discussing the project’s plans with Oldbury site stakeholders, such as the Site Integration Manager, to obtain their approval. Once the project’s strategy was compiled in the Project Execution Plan, I worked closely with the assurance manager to ensure that the project is compliant with the Programme Governance Board’s (PGB) and the Project Management Office’s standards and requirements before submitting the project for sanction. The project successfully passed the PGB gate. Following this, I was able to get to work with the contractors by first inviting them to the site to inspect all the equipment that would be used for the trials. During the visit, the contractors raised issues with the equipment that would affect the critical path. However, because I had invited the contractors to site for the inspection as soon as the contract was set into action, I had enough time to plan the mitigation strategies so that the project would not be delayed.
Overall, leading this project provided me with valuable project management experience and accelerated my development through varied exposure.
What opportunities provided by the Nuclear Graduates programme have helped with your professional development?
The London Footprints trip was a great opportunity to learn about influence, how it is deployed on us, by us and how it can be used in conjunction with power to bring positive or negative change, both in the workplace and in society.
There are also the theoretical qualifications on offer, such as the Association for Project Management’s Project Fundamentals Qualification and Project Management Qualification, both very important for my chartership in project management.
What has been your highlight whilst on the programme?
I took the opportunity to travel to Vienna, with a few other graduates, to attend the IAEA’s Nuclear Decommissioning conference. There, I was able to network with nuclear professionals from across the world and hear about their valuable experiences in Nuclear Decommissioning. I also found the presentations and question and answer sessions, during the conference, to be interesting and insightful into the variety of approaches to decommissioning taken by different countries across the globe. Of course, exploring Vienna in the evening wasn’t too bad either!
What advice would you give a future Nuclear Graduate?
Be proactive and make the most of all the opportunities offered within the (very short) two years!