The Office for Nuclear Regulation’s (ONR) newest Board member Jean Llewellyn joined in October. Jean brings with her a wealth of experience from her varied and diverse career spanning the nuclear, education and the hospitality sectors. We caught up with Jean to discuss why she joined the Board, find out more about her career and how she’s been finding life during the pandemic.
What attracted you to the role of NED on the ONR Board?
In 2008 I worked closely with industry to establish the National Skills Academy for Nuclear (NSAN) and was CEO for 10 years – during this time I worked with the ONR. This included advising on how to increase the talent pool at the ONR as well as diversifying the recruitment pipeline through engagement with the Nuclear Graduate Programme. I was also involved in a joint project with the Department for Energy and Climate Change developing the guidelines: ‘Key Attributes of an Excellent Nuclear Security Culture’.
While working with the ONR I gained a good understanding of the importance of its mission and vision and developed a keen interest in its future. So, when the opportunity arose to join the Board I was immediately interested – I felt it was an organisation where I could add value to ensure its continued success.
What have been your initial impressions of the ONR?
I’m really impressed at how the ONR has developed over the last few years. Diversity across the workforce has increased enormously, and it’s great to see a range of young people starting their careers here. It’s a vibrant and forward-looking organisation that I’m proud to be a part of.
All the staff that I have virtually met, have been enthusiastic and committed to their work, and have responded well to the difficult circumstances. And post COVID-19 I’m sure many working arrangements will be quite different, so it was great to see our ‘New Ways of Working Project’ (NWoW) giving real clarity on how our staff and stakeholders want to work in the future.
As regards the Board I’ve found it to be dynamic, with a diverse range of talents and an excellent Chair, making it well placed to help the ONR continue to develop and fulfil its important role in the UK nuclear industry by delivering its Strategy 2020-25.
I’ve attended four Board meetings. At the first two meetings we mainly focussed on the Strategy. We’ve also been looking at how we can integrate our regulatory purposes in the future, considered the outcomes of the Board Effectiveness Review, as well as looking at the NWoW recommendations and we agreed our new Whistleblowing Policy. Looking ahead to April we will be taking a close look at cyber security. As you would expect, the ONR’s response to COVID-19 remains a regular topic at Board.
I’m also pleased to find that while still working collaboratively with the industry the ONR is now much more public facing. Communicating regulatory decisions and enforcements clearly and openly is essential to enhance trust and confidence with our stakeholders.
I’ve also been pleased to see the positive impact that staff from the ONR have gained from their involvement with the NSAN – enhancing and developing people’s skills within our organisation greatly improves our capability as an effective regulator. So, I was delighted when the ONR, along with partner organisations, won the NSAN Best Employer and Training Provider Partnership Award for the successful collaboration on the Nuclear Degree Apprenticeship Programme (NDAP). This is a fantastic achievement for us, highlighting the great value of employers and training providers working together to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce in the nuclear industry through the NDAP.
Can you tell us a bit about your career so far? What skills, expertise and experience do you have which you will bring to the role?
My role as a NED is to contribute to all Board activities which includes providing leadership and setting the strategic objectives for the ONR, and I’m the lead for security. Part of my role is to chair the Security Committee, one of our Board’s sub-committees, and to highlight key issues and priorities to the Board and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). My primary responsibility in terms of security is external and site focussed. However, it’s also important to be aware of the internal situation, given the impact a cyber security issue could potentially have, so I’ll be working with Simon Coldham, our Chief Information Officer and his team too.
I’ve had a very diverse career and it’s this breadth of experience that has provided me with the skills and expertise which I’ve brought to this role. I’ve been a NED on the Board of the World Institute for Nuclear Security since 2018. This has provided me with a good understating of the global security challenges facing the nuclear industry.
At NSAN we worked with industry to identify and address skill needs. We developed Triple Bar Nuclear Security, created in partnership with the IAEA. A highlight of my time at NSAN was the creation of the UK Nuclear Skills Awards. Now in its 13th year it celebrates excellence in skills across the industry, and there have been several finalists from the ONR.
Prior to my role at NSAN I worked in skills development for sectors including hospitably and tourism, and then at the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) as Head of Skills Policy Development. Over the years at the NWDA my focus shifted towards the nuclear sector as the industry faced challenges in the skill sets required from its workforce.
I’ve also worked in education, lecturing at a university and a further education college. However, the first part of my career was in the hospitality industry, initially working in operations (restaurants, bars and as a chef) and then several years managing small hotels across the UK and in Italy. I also had the ‘dream job’ of being an AA Hotels Inspector for five years, so regulation is in the blood!
Due to my diverse career I’m pleased to bring a specific focus on people and skill development, nuclear security, communications, stakeholder management and working with government to the Board.
What are you most looking forward to in the role over the next five years?
Despite everything being ‘virtual’ I’ve been made to feel very welcome by staff and fellow Board members. However, I’m looking forward to meeting people face-to-face, to build relationships and work together to continue to develop the ONR as a world class regulator and delivering the Strategy 2020-25.
As the security lead NED, I’m also looking forward to seeing industry successfully implement Security Assessment Principles (SyAPs). It will be exciting to see all the positive outcomes from the SyAPs work and develop better industry collaboration around security, like we have seen with the Safety Directors Forum, to ensure the highest standards of security are maintained across the sector.
I’ve also become the Board’s lead for nuclear safeguards and I’m looking forward to seeing this new function/purpose become firmly embedded in the ONR and fully operational across the UK.
How are you finding life in the current COVID-19 situation?
I’m in a very fortunate position as we have a house with a garden, so I’ve been able to get outside. Also, my children are grown-up, so I haven’t had to do home-schooling, and I have the space and facilities to work from home. But I miss being able to be with my family and friends and going on holiday. None of us ever thought we’d all be missing a hug so much!
A positive outcome from this situation seems to be an increased sense of community and people caring for one another, plus people valuing workers in the service sectors such as the NHS, Refuse Collectors, Delivery Drivers etc. – let’s hope these positives continue.
Can you tell us a little about your life outside of work?
I’ve been married to Andy for 32 years and we have two children – Ben (30) and Mike (28), who are both very different. Ben is an Industrial Chemist and loves mountaineering and cycling. Mike is the General Manager of a busy bar and restaurant and likes playing cricket and rugby.
In ‘normal’ times I spend a lot of time with our large family cooking and entertaining for everyone, and often going away on holiday together. I also love hosting parties for friends and family.
We spend a lot of time in the Lake District and Scotland walking the fells and mountains. I also enjoy going on long distance cycling trips and have cycled both the Hebridean Way and the Pennine Cycle Way.