Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Non-Executive Director

Body: Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE)
Appointing Department: Ministry of Defence
Sectors: Business, Finance & Skills, Defence, Science & Technology
Location: London and Aldermaston
Skills required: Accountancy, Audit and Risk, Business / Commercial, HR, Major Projects
Number of Vacancies: 4
Remuneration: £29,995 per year
Time Requirements: 2 days a month

This is not a ministerial appointment.

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications

    03/02/2021 at 12:00

  • Panel Sift

    01/03/2021 dates may change

  • Final Interview Date

    15/03/2021 dates may change

  • Announcement



Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description

Having previously been operated on behalf of Government by a third party, from the 1st July 2021, the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE plc) will become an Executive Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB), with the company wholly owned by the Ministry of Defence (MOD).  The change in model will remove the current commercial arrangements, enhancing the MOD’s agility in the future management of the UK’s nuclear deterrent, whilst also delivering on core MOD objectives and value for money to the taxpayer. With these changes in mind, the MOD now wishes to identify four Non-Executive Directors to join the AWE plc Board from July 2021. The MOD seeks candidates with proven experience in one of;

  • Advanced manufacturing;
  • Large scale programme / complex infrastructure/ project management and assurance with capital intensive industries comparable to AWE plc;
  • Workforce strategy, culture change and incentivisation;
  • Finance and risk, with prior experience on an Audit Committee

These will complement two further independent NEDs with sector expertise who will be directly appointed.

The Board is responsible for the leadership of an organisation at the heart of the UK’s strategic nuclear deterrent, carrying out essential research and advanced manufacturing on the nuclear warhead.  As an Independent NED on a fiduciary Board, you will:

  • Contribute to setting, monitoring and challenging the strategic direction of AWE plc, by assisting in developing key strategic objectives, overseeing their achievement and ensuring they remain appropriate;
  • Contribute to open and honest debate at Board meetings and provide constructive challenge to the executive decisions, adding diversity of thought and industry experience to the Board;
  • Promote the long-term success of AWE plc and ensure the accountability of AWE plc, scrutinising the performance of management in meeting agreed goals and objectives, and monitoring the reporting of performance;
  • Uphold high standards of integrity and probity, supporting the Chair and executive directors by seeking to instil the appropriate culture, values and behaviours in the boardroom and beyond;
  • Commit sufficient time and resource to fulfil all functional responsibilities and continually develop personal capabilities to do so.

Appointees may be asked to chair various sub committees including Audit & Risk, Remuneration and Projects & Programmes. One appointee will become the Senior Independent Director.

Person Specification

MOD is looking for candidates with the following profile:

  • UK national who is willing to undergo DV clearance (if successful);
  • A good understanding of large and complex organisations operating in a changing and highly regulated environment;
  • Focussed on results and a willingness to look for solutions combined with a focus on targeted performance measurement;
  • Pragmatic approach, including an ability to adapt quickly to fast moving situations;
  • Capacity to carry out this role effectively, with a commitment to AWE plc’s mission, and desire to add real value to the Board and the business.

Essential skills:

  • Proven expertise in one of:
    • Advanced manufacturing;
    • Large scale programme /complex infrastructure/ project management and assurance with capital intensive industries comparable to the AWE plc;
    • Workforce strategy, culture change and incentivisation;
    • Finance and risk, with prior experience on an Audit Committee (please see below)
  • Clear and effective influencing and communication skills, including an ability to operate effectively at Board level, challenging an executive effectively but constructively, and communicating with a wide range of audiences;
  • An open mind with the courage to think independently and strategically, and an ability to effectively analyse complex issues while driving tangible delivery/change;
  • Team working and collaboration skills, including an ability to work together with other executives and non-executives in a low ego environment to solve collective problems;
  • A good understanding of large and complex organisations operating in a changing environment.
  • Credibility and communication skills to operate confidently and effectively at Board level, with the ability to articulate complex issues confidently and clearly both internally and externally.

In addition, it is essential that candidates for the finance and risk role have the competence to Chair to the Audit & Risk committee with;

  • A deep understanding of financial and wider control framework as well as expertise at developing and overseeing effective management information frameworks that drive organisational performance.
  • Familiarity with systems of internal control, which provide assurance of effective and efficient operations, internal financial control, compliance with law and regulation, in order that they can satisfy themselves and the Board on the integrity of financial information and that the financial controls and systems of risk managements are robust and defensible.
  • Knowledge and proficiency in accounting guidelines, the FRC Corporate Governance Code and risk fundamentals to ensure that AWE plc does everything required of it by law and regulation.

Desirable skills:

  • Familiarity with the nuclear sector, or a similarly complex, high-hazard and regulated sector at an Executive or Non-Executive level;
  • Expertise in managing capital projects;
  • Expertise with transforming complex organisations;
  • Working with the Public Sector, and knowledge and experience of major projects with government involvement;
  • Familiarity with complex digital/IT projects.
  • For the finance & risk role it is desirable that candidates have experience as a Non-Executive Director and Audit Committee Member or as a CFO in a relevant but not conflicted business.

Additional Information

If you are shortlisted for the role, due diligence will be carried out and your referees are likely to be contacted.

Diversity and Inclusion

MOD is committed to be an equal opportunities employer. We value and welcome diversity. The appointment(s) will be governed by the Principle of Public Appointment based on merit with independent assessment and transparency of process. Candidates may come from a wide range of backgrounds and experience although the successful candidate(s) will need to demonstrate that they meet all the criteria for this appointment(s). Applications from women, ethnic minorities and disabled people will be welcomed.

Disable Confident Scheme (DSC)

MOD actively encourages applications from disabled people. As part of this, MOD along with several departments have committed to the Disable Confident Scheme (DCS). One of our commitments is to offer an interview to all disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria for the role(s). This gives them the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities at the interview stage.

To be eligible for DCS the candidate must have a disability, as defined by the Equality Act 2010. Further definition can be found on the Cabinet Office website.

Terms of Appointment:

Successful candidates will be appointed for a fixed term, normally up to three years. Candidates may be reappointed for a further term, subject to mutual agreement and meeting required performance standards.


Candidates must note the requirement to declare any interests that they may have that might cause questions to be raised about their approach to the business of AWE plc. They are required to declare any relevant business interests, shareholdings, positions of authority, retainers, consultancy arrangements or other connections with commercial, public or voluntary bodies, both for themselves and for their spouses/partners.

How to Apply

MOD has retained Russell Reynolds Associates to advise on this appointment. For further information, please visit:


Please submit materials by email to The closing date for applications is Noon, Wednesday 3rd February 2021.

Your submission should include:

  • The reference number in the subject line 2012-032L
  • A short covering letter of not more than three A4 sized pages explaining why this appointment interests you and giving evidence of how you meet the appointment criteria and competencies as detailed in the person specification.
  • Your current CV with educational and professional qualifications and full employment history, explaining any gaps in your employment history, giving details where applicable, of budgets and numbers of people managed, highlighting relevant achievements in recent posts.
  • The names of two referees who may be contacted at short-list stage, i.e. before the final interview, describing in what capacity and over what period of time they have known you. Referees will not be contacted without your consent.
  • Notification of any dates you are unable to accommodate within the indicative timetable set out above.
  • In addition, your application should include the following documentation:
  • Appendix I – Application form’ with both section A and B completed:
  • Section A: Diversity Monitoring Form. We are committed to recruiting public appointees that reflect the diverse communities we serve. The diversity information you provide will help support monitoring our recruitment processes to ensure they are fair to all and allow us to attract diverse and talented candidates. The data in this section is collated anonymously and will not be disclosed to anyone involved in assessing your application.
  • Section B: Conflicts of Interest. Applicants will be asked to declare any potential conflicts. This data will be shared with the panel. Please note: due diligence will be carried out on all shortlisted candidates. This campaign is being run with UKGI (UK Government Investments). Please ensure you read the Privacy Notice for Public Appointment Applicants before applying.
Appendix 1 - Application Form
AWE NED role specification
Privacy Notice for Public Appointment Applicants Jan 2020

This post is NOT regulated by The Commissioner for Public Appointments.

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