Laura Daubney

Analytical Chemistry

Name:

Laura Daubney

Degree & University:

MChem, BSc Chemistry with Analytical Chemistry (Industrial), University of Leeds

Sponsor:

Magnox Ltd

Current job title, secondment host, duration:

Packaging Assessment Manager, Radioactive Waste Management Ltd, 8 months

What attracted you to the nuclear sector and the nucleargraduates programme?

The nuclear industry offers a much greater diversity in roles and career options that lots of other sectors, and nucleargraduates reflects exactly that. The scheme offers a great way to experience a range of roles within the nuclear sector which is exactly what I wanted on leaving university. Aside from the secondments there are also a lot of opportunities to visit sites and other organisations in the UK and abroad to get a much broader understanding of nuclear. The industry is keen to welcome new talent and the chance to explore different roles within different companies over these two years was a huge driver to apply. The industry itself has a number of challenges to overcome, enough to keep you occupied for an entire career!

What are your plans for the future (career wise)?

I returned to Magnox, (my sponsoring organisation) at the end of the graduate programme and am based at their Berkley site. I am working in Higher Activity Waste management; using some of the experience I gained working at Radioactive Waste Management to help manage the disposability of Higher Activity Wastes. I am also hoping to gain chartership during the next two years.

Had you contemplated a career in the nuclear sector while at university?

Nope. The nuclear industry was not really on my radar until the end of my degree, I always wanted to work in the energy sector but oil and gas had also seemed the most likely route.

What attracted you to the nuclear sector and the nucleargraduates scheme?

The nuclear industry offers a much greater diversity in roles and career options that lots of other sectors, and nucleargraduates reflects exactly that. The scheme offers a great way to experience a range of roles within the nuclear sector which is exactly what I wanted on leaving university. Aside from the secondments there are also a lot of opportunities to visit sites and other organisations in the UK and abroad to get a much broader understanding of nuclear. The industry is keen to welcome new talent and the chance to explore different roles within different companies over these two years was a huge driver to apply. The industry itself has a number of challenges to overcome, enough to keep you occupied for an entire career!

What is the standout moment from your time on the nucleargraduates programme?

The standout moment for me was visiting the Äspö Hard Rock Laboratory in Sweden. This is Sweden’s geological disposal research facility where experiments are being carried out related to the disposal of radioactive waste from their nuclear programme. This was a particularly interesting visit for me as I had just spent 8 months on secondment with Radioactive Waste Management Ltd who are the UK equivalent to SKB who operate the Swedish facility. Traveling 500m below the surface to see the huge tunnels that have been built to host a range of experiments provided a real insight into the extent of the work involved in developing a geological disposal facility. It was really useful to consider how that would translate to the UK’s programme for developing a geological repository.

What skills do you need to succeed at what you do?

Being personable and friendly, whilst not really a skill, is vital. I’ve found being able to approach people and talk to them on their level makes life much easier and makes for a more enjoyable experience when moving between secondments and roles. Otherwise, you need to be driven as your success and enjoyment on the scheme relies on you putting in the work.

What advice would you give to any graduates looking to join the nucleargraduates scheme?

Do it! If you’re looking for a scheme that offers more than just a job , in an industry that is in a very exciting phase then nucleargraduates is a great opportunity. My advice would be to look at the skills you have and the activities you have been involved with and don’t sell yourself short!

What would you say to reassure graduates who feel uncertain about the nuclear industry?

The nuclear industry has always appeared to be a very secretive industry and that often puts people off. There is a lack of education about the nuclear sector and radiation and that can make people uneasy, but the industry and the people in it are very technically minded and 100% safety conscious. I have only ever felt safe since starting my role on the scheme and seeing the focus on health and safety and the regulation of the industry first-hand has only confirmed this feeling. There is an exciting world behind the still slightly secretive exterior and I for one am glad to be on this side of the fence!