The National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) is the national laboratory responsible for nuclear fission R&D and independent science based advice. It is wholly owned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). It operates commercially, with an annual turnover of approx. £100m. Major clients include Sellafield Ltd, Ministry of Defence (MoD) and EDF Energy. It employs around 900 people, most of whom are highly qualified experts in a variety of scientific and technical disciplines.
Unusually for a national laboratory, NNL is self-financing. It reinvests its profit, referred to as Earnings to Reinvest, in its own R&D programme, updating and commissioning its facilities, and in maintaining critical parts of the UK’s nuclear fission skill base, all of which benefit the wider UK nuclear industry. In support of this, NNL runs a Technical Advisory Board (TAB). The TAB consists of representatives from strategic partners, nationals laboratories and universities as well as key customers. It provides advice on NNL’s R&D strategy, its effectiveness, and the impact of NNL’s science and technology programmes, including advice on reinvestment and R&D programmes.
NNL supports national programmes delivered by MoD and Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), and has played a key role in saving the tax-payer several billion pounds, as well as acting as increasing profits for others, and is an impartial expert advisor to the government on nuclear technical matters through the Nuclear Innovation and Research Office (NIRO).
NNL was created in 2009 and is owned and sponsored by BEIS, with the shareholder function being managed by UK Government Investments (UKGI).
NNL is currently going through a multi-year programme of Business Transformation as it adapts to the new opportunities of the evolving nuclear landscape.
The NNL is seeking a Non-Executive Director, with nuclear sector expertise, to sit on its Board and to fulfil all the duties and responsibilities commensurate with this position. The Board is collectively responsible for the oversight of the operation of the NNL, with emphasis on its strategic direction, management control, and corporate governance.
The Board currently comprises five Executive Directors and four Non-Executive Directors, including Sir Andrew Mathews, the Chair. All Non-Executive Directors are expected to make a substantial contribution in all Board discussions including the vision, values and strategy for the business.
It is expected that the new Non-Executive Director will join the Board to replace current post-holder who is coming to the end of his term in May 2020.
The Board meets at least six times a year, in NNL offices around the UK and in London. In addition, Non-Executive Directors may also be expected to chair the NNL’s Remuneration, Audit and Risk committees and one to chair the NNL Technology Advisory Board, and Assurance Advisory Board.
The position will be of interest to candidates who embrace complex challenges, can foster a culture of innovation, and who have the strategic and team skills to work closely with board colleagues.
The Non-Executive Director should be a senior leader with an ability to demonstrate:
- Clear and effective influencing and communication skills, including an ability to contribute fully to Board discussions, challenge the Executive effectively but constructively, and communicate with a wide range of audiences
- Independent and strategic thinking with an ability to analyse complex issues and promote innovative thinking
- Team working and collaboration skills, including an ability to work together with other executives and non-executives in the organisation to solve problems collectively
- Results orientation and a willingness to look for solutions combined with a focus on targeted performance measurement; and
- Adaptability and pragmatism, including an ability to adapt quickly to fast moving situations
The appointee will also need to bring experience and knowledge covering the following areas:
- A deep and wide technical understanding of civil nuclear technology sufficient to act as a credible and authoritative chair of the NNL Technology Advisory Board. Such experience may have been gained in an academic or industry environment but with evidence of relevant interface with the commercial sector and government.
- A sound understanding of matters relating to nuclear safety and security, including familiarity with relevant legislation and regulations and/or experience of working in a highly regulated environment.
- Knowledge of international nuclear organisations, policies and companies
- Capable of chairing the NNL board in the absence of the chair
It is desirable that the appointee has an understanding of business or commercial activity gained in competitive markets, with some experience of one or more of the following: the commercialising of technology; strategic planning; risk management; project management; and managing organisational and cultural change.
Some understanding and experience of government relations would also be desirable, as would experience and understanding of brand, particularly its role in implementing growth and diversification strategy and engaging employees.
Previous experience as a Non-Executive Director would be an advantage but is not essential, although candidates must have a clear understanding of the differences between executive and non-executive roles.