Case study

David Oakley — nucleargraduate sponsored by Sellafield Ltd


David did an MEng in Chemical Engineering at The University of Manchester before joining the nucleargraduates programme

What attracted you to the nuclear sector and the nucleargraduates programme?

During my A-levels I developed an interest in the science behind nuclear power and when it came to applying for jobs at the end of university, the nuclear sector jumped straight out to me as a good career for a young engineer.

The main appeal of the nucleargraduates programme was the chance to move around and try different areas of the industry before settling down to a permanent role. University can only do so much to prepare you for working life and nucleargraduates was a great opportunity to find out what I would like to do; whether design work, working on plant or anything else I might be thrown into. The other aspects of the scheme, such as the quality of the training provided and the interesting and varied site visits, really cemented this as the graduate scheme I wanted to be a part of.

What is your current role and what does it involve?

My current secondment involves planning and carrying out plant upgrades and project support for one of the plants built in the 1950s to store highly active liquid wastes. This work allowed me to split my time between task planning at my desk and being out on plant and seeing the jobs happen - giving a good balance to my day. It was interesting and varied work as no two jobs were ever alike thanks to the age of the facilities and the way they were operated in the past.

What is the standout moment from your time on the programme?

There have been quite a few but I think the best was the week we spent in Sweden as part of the international footprints (corporate social responsibility) visit. This was a week in February 2015 that was organised by nucleargraduates and involved visits to Swedish nuclear sites, discussions with leading Swedish nuclear professionals, time to explore Stockholm, and an overnight train to the north of the country to spend time with the indigenous Sami people. An opportunity like that is unlikely to come around again anytime soon. Other great moments include a trip to the Houses of Parliament, three days doing Outward Bound training in Cumbria and visits to a range of nuclear sites and conferences all over the country.

What are your plans for the future?

My current role involves me working alongside both management and operators on the Sellafield site so I’m getting a whole range of perspectives. I’d eventually like to run my own facility. At the moment, I’m building on what I’ve learned on the scheme about managing expectations, delegating and giving feedback. I’m also mentoring a new graduate on the nucleargraduates scheme, something that shows me just how far I’ve come during the two years on the scheme.