National Nuclear Laboratory - Chair

Body: National Nuclear Laboratory
Appointing Department: Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Sectors: Business, Finance & Skills, Energy, Science & Technology
Location: Various
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: £40000 per year
Time Requirements: Minimum of 36 days per year


An announcement has been made on the outcome of this appointment.

Ian Funnell has been appointed the Chair of the National Nuclear Laboratory from 26 January 2022 for a three year term/

Date: 11/01/2022

View Announcement

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications


  • Panel Sift

    w/c 31 May- w/c 14 June

  • Final Interview Date

    w/c 21 June

  • Announcement

    11/01/2022 at 10:00

Please note: sift and interview dates are subject to change


Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description

Owing to the existing Chair’s tenure coming to an end,  this is an exciting opportunity to Chair the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) which comes at a critical time given the global focus on solving Net Zero through clean low carbon energy. NNL sits at the heart of this agenda with world-class science capability. The role of the organisation goes further in helping to restore the environment through technology to support legacy waste clean-up as well as working on innovative disciplines such as nuclear technology for medical applications and cancer treatment and nuclear technology to support space exploration.  We are the UK’s national laboratory responsible for nuclear fission R&D, providing technical support to all aspects of the nation’s nuclear programmes, operating on a commercial basis with key customers such as NDA, MoD, EdF, as well as overseas public and private sector organisations.

The Chair is appointed by the Government, through a process regulated by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA).  In addition to leading the Board, the Chair plays a significant role in the interactions between NNL and the Government as shareholder, notably BEIS and UK Government Investments.  Candidates will need to demonstrate an ability to lead the board of an agile technical organisation in a key policy sector. They will bring experience as a Non-executive Director with the ability to engage a diverse stakeholder base including within senior levels of government.

Whilst specific experience of the nuclear sector is not a requirement, experience of operating in a safety, regulated environment is essential. Our success is measured in part by operating on a financially self-sustaining  basis, as well as facilitating significant value savings, so candidates will also bring strong commercial acumen.

Role specification

The Chair is appointed by the Government, through a process regulated by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA).  Specific experience of the nuclear sector is not considered necessary for this role.

The Chair is responsible for:

  • Ensuring that the Board provides strong leadership and sets the overall tone within the business to enable it to maximise its potential with respect to its purpose;
  • Working with the Board on the implementation of strategy for NNL, taking proper account of guidance provided by the responsible Minister or the Department;
  • Championing the strategy with key stakeholders (e.g. HMG, customers, academia, industry) to enable NNL to fulfil its potential;
  • Ensuring the business delivers against its targets, objectives and annual business plan which is approved by BEIS;
  • Ensuring that the Board has the right balance of skills appropriate to directing the NNL business and managing succession;
  • Developing a constructive, frank and open relationship with the CEO, supporting where necessary, and holding him/her accountable for the effective implementation of Board decisions;
  • Ensuring appropriate risk monitoring and mitigation;
  • Maintaining an appropriate corporate governance framework for the company and its activities, consistent with central government requirements;
  • Delivering high standards of regularity and propriety;
  • Ensuring that the NNL’s affairs are conducted openly, transparently and with probity; and
  • Reviewing Board performance annually.

In addition to leading the Board, the Chair plays a significant role in the interactions between NNL and the Government as shareholder, notably BEIS as sponsor department, and UK Government Investments which provides the shareholder function on behalf of BEIS.

The successful candidate will be appointed initially for a fixed period of three years and may be eligible for reappointment for a second term.

Person Specification

The successful candidate will have the personal credibility and professional ability to lead NNL and represent it at the highest level.

Essential skills

  • Ability to lead the Board of a technical organisation;
  • Experience of operating at a senior level, engaging key stakeholders and championing the organisation accordingly;
  • A strategic thinker with the ability to communicate to a range of audiences;
  • Experience of operating in a safety, regulated environment (specific experience of the nuclear sector is not necessary); and
  • Record of achievement in a Non-executive Director role in the public, private or voluntary sector.

Personal qualities

Successful candidates will be expected to demonstrate their commitment to the following:

  • The UK Corporate Governance Code and best practice in the area of commercial governance; and
  • The Nolan principles of public service (Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty and Leadership).

Additional Information

Please note: Due Diligence will be carried out on shortlisted candidates and references will be taken.

Disability Confident Scheme

BEIS is a Disability Confident Leader, and as such we will offer interviews to disabled candidates who meet the published minimum requirements for a job or role. If you wish to apply for consideration under this scheme, you should complete the relevant section of the online application. It is not necessary to state the nature of your disability. Whether you choose to apply under the Disability Confident scheme or not, you can still ask us to make particular adjustments for you when attending an interview.

Standards in public life

Candidates must confirm that they understand the standards of probity required of public appointees outlined in the ‘Seven Principles of Public Life’ drawn up by the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

Conflicts of interest

Applicants must disclose information on personal connections, which if they were appointed, could lead to a conflict of interest or be perceived as such.

It is very important therefore that all applicants provide appropriate details which might be construed as being in conflict with the appointment for which they are applying.

If it appears from the information provided on the form that a possible conflict might exist or arise in the future, this will be fully explored with the applicant with a view to establishing whether it is sufficiently significant to prevent the individual from carrying out the duties of the post. The panel will do this at interview stage.

How to Apply

GatenbySanderson has been appointed as employment agency adviser to assist with this appointment.

To apply for this post, you will need to complete the online application process by no later than 11pm on 28 May 2021. Unfortunately, we cannot accept late applications.

All applications must be submitted using the link

You will be asked to submit the following:

  1. A CV setting out your career history, with key responsibilities and achievements. Please ensure you have provided reasons for any gaps within the last two years;
  2. A Statement of Suitability (no longer than three pages) explaining:
    1. Your motivation for applying for this role
    2. How you consider your personal skills, qualities and experience provide evidence of your suitability for the role, with particular reference to the criteria in the person specification;
  3. A completed Diversity Monitoring Form;
  4. A completed Conflict of Interests Form.

Failure to submit these documents will mean the panel only have limited information on which to assess your application against the criteria in the person specification.

NNL is a place where everyone is valued, respected and welcomed. Our ongoing commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (ED&I) means we’re creating an inclusive workplace, built upon equal policies, procedures and transparency, where everyone’s free to be themselves and feel like they belong. From early careers to executive level, we look beyond barriers to find the people for the job.

Should you encounter any issues with your online application or are unable to apply online please contact

For a confidential discussion please contact our recruitment advisers at GatenbySanderson:

Dr Emma French, Principal Consultant

07384 464 181

Michael Dobson, Partner and Practice Lead

07891 142 325

This recruitment campaign is being run in association with UKGI which manages the shareholder function of NNL on behalf of BEIS. Please see the UKGI data privacy notice in the candidate pack prior to applying.

CO diversity-monitoring-form-accessible april 2021 nnl
Disability Confident Scheme and Conflicts of interest nnl
NNL Chair Candidate Pack April 21
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