National Nuclear Laboratory, Non-Executive Director

Body: National Nuclear Laboratory
Appointing Department: Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Sectors: Business, Finance & Skills, Energy
Location: London and UK various
Skills required: Business / Commercial, HR
Number of Vacancies: 3
Remuneration: Remuneration will be £25,000 per annum.
Time Requirements: 20 days per year.

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications

    09/05/2019 at 12:00

  • Panel Sift


  • Final Interview Date


  • Announcement



Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description

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).

Person Specification

The NNL is seeking three Non-Executive Directors, including one Senior Independent Director, 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 five 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 vison, values and strategy for the business.

It is expected that the new Non-Executive Directors will join the Board to replace current appointees who are coming to the end of their terms in September 2019, October 2019 and 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 positions 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 Directors should be senior leaders 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 three appointees will also need collectively to bring experience and knowledge covering the following seven areas.  (It is not anticipated that candidates will individually be able to demonstrate competence in all seven areas):

  1. 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 substantial interface with the commercial sector and government;
  2. 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 sufficient to act as a credible chair of the Assurance Advisory Board;
  3. a deep and wide understanding of business/commercial activity gained in competitive markets, with in-depth experience of one or more of the following: the commercialising of technology; strategic planning; risk management; project management; and managing organisational and cultural change;
  4. a strong knowledge of finance backed by a relevant qualification, sufficient to act as a credible and authoritative chair of the relevant Committee(s);
  5. a strong background in HR with an ability to ensure that the organisation’s key driver of success, namely its people, is taken seriously at board level, using their skills in remuneration, recruitment and development, human capital and corporate social responsibility; also appropriate experience to act as a credible and authoritative chair of the Remuneration Committee;
  6. Knowledge and experience of international nuclear fission organisations, policies and companies; and
  7. capable of chairing the NNL board in the absence of the chair.

Desirable Criteria

Previous experience as a Non-Executive Director would be an advantage (especially for the appointment of the SID) but is not essential, although candidates must have a clear understanding of the differences between executive and non-executive roles.

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.

Additional Information

BEIS is committed to providing equal opportunities for all, irrespective of race, age, disability, gender, marital status, religion, sexual orientation, transgender and working patterns and to the principle of public appointments on merit with independent assessments, openness and transparency of process.

BEIS offers professional training courses on public sector finance and governance for those new to the public sector.

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