YGN - Career Profiles
People often ask how members of the committee, current
chair, ex-chair etc got involved in the YGN and what path their career took.
For that the reason the YGN has put this page together to give an insight into
the typical career of a YGN'er.
|Claire Gallery Strong
old for YGN, sad.
2000 was an auspicious year for me, I got married, had knee surgery and
went to Slovakia on crutches to the first ever International Youth
Nuclear Congress. I was one of five lucky employees from (what was) BNFL,
selected from around the country, to go and find our more about the YGN.
Why? Well, the YGN had been active in the UK between 1995-97 but the
role of YGN Chair had passed on more as a token than as a responsibility
and role. As a direct consequence the YGN network had withered away in
Whilst in Slovakia I was delighted to find out that there were many
active networks for younger people in the nuclear industry all over the
worl. As a direct result of the IYNC experience I came back determined
to get the UK network reinvigorated. We did - there were a few of us
involved and you may remember those names as some of us are still active
in the Nuclear Institute. I am really proud to look back and know I
played a pivotal role in leading the network through to bring it back to
a solid footing with a succession plan for the committee.
One of the hardest things for me, but I felt the most important, was to
self limit the time of Chair. I believed that the reason the previous
network had failed was due to someone taking over who had no defined end
date to leave, no succession plan and no committee. Putting those in
place was key to having a successful vibrant and growing network.
Ten years later, I am now an executive team member at the Low Level
Waste Repository in Cumbria. Part of my success in achieving this level
in my career has been down to the invaluable exposure to leadership that
I got as Chair of YGN. I spoke at international conferences (boy was
that nerve racking, I remember my whole body shaking) and at major UK
events. My reputation across the industry has been enhanced by my active
participation in NI events. I got access to senior people and learned a
lot about leadership, professionalism, organisation and having fun. I
think the motto that I learned most through YGN is that it is ok to have
fun, you can still get your work done. I bring this to all my jobs now
and demand my teams have
fun - it makes your work life easier and you can still get the job done.
Since learning about the YGN the last 10 years have really seen a
me- apart from the 2 young kids, the triathlon, the long suffering but
very supportive husband, I have also been involved in roles in the NI
and I am now Chair of the Nuclear Institute Cumbria Branch (and yes I
will hand that one on to as it is only fair to give others a shot at
it), I achieved Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and before
moving to the executive team at the LLWR I was Project Manger for some
major Sellafield projects. I am also a Board Member of an RSC Board for
Qualifications. I get so much learning out of my external experiences
and both personally and work wise, can see the benefits of looking
outside the day job.
My career has done well because I am good at what I do but that brings
with it a whole package of other important skills that the YGN helped
hone- communication, managing and working with stakeholders, influencing
people, raising visibility, being active and getting things done.
started with the YGN more by accident than design, when in late 2003 I
was asked whether I wanted to organise the Reactor Seminar (now
re-vamped and under the Rough Guide banner). And if I wanted, I could
join the committee. So I said, why not. This phrase has seemed to
accompany most of my career; a willingness to give most things a go,
even if they're a little daunting.
I said 'why not' to attending the Barcelona European
YGN meeting in early 2004 and then became one of the UK representatives.
I learnt valuable skills in communication, influencing and also gained
insight to the European nuclear industry.
I said 'why not' to being on the IYNC board and
attending IYNC2004 in Canada, where I presented to my peers.
Nerve-racking as there are some exceptionally clever people out there,
but reassuring as they were part of the YGN community.
'why not' applied to becoming the vice-chair and then
chair of the YGN, but there was also a strong element of 'yes please'.
To lead and influence such an enthusiastic, bright and dedicated group
of young folk from our industry is a privilege and provided me with many
opportunities to engage with not only senior figures from the industry,
but those that make things happen on the ground.
'why not' has allowed me to take advantage of many
opportunities, but without being part of the YGN those opportunities
will not have been there.
forget the exact year now, I think it was 2004, but I remember speaking
to the then YGN Chair and asking why the British Nuclear Energy Society
advertised on its website that it covered Wales in the West to Oxford in
the East! As a result of this question, I agreed to form and chair the
South East Branch of the BNES, to ensure that at least it spread to East
Anglia! I should have learned by now that asking these sorts of
questions doesn't always result in the kind of answers you are
Since then, the BNES has merged with the Institute of
Nuclear Engineers to become the Nuclear Institute, the numbers of the
YGN and the Institute have expanded enormously, and the UK is seriously
looking at new build nuclear power stations. In addition, I've moved
from the South East! In fact at the last Energy Choices event, I was
remarking to some person who had the misfortune to end up talking to me
that it was my sixth Energy Choices event!
My career has taken me from BNFL as a student on
operating and decommissioning Magnox nuclear plants, to a brief sojourn
on coal and gas power stations through to my jobs at Sizewell B on
Chemistry and latterly operations for the country's (currently) only
Pressurised Water Reactor. I have now been working on new nuclear build
for Horizon Nuclear Power for two years at our two sites at Wylfa in
Anglesey and Oldbury in Gloucestershire. Whilst I am one of those
fortunate people who tend to enjoy my jobs, it's not the be all and end
all. I'm also involved to varying degrees in the Royal Society of
Chemistry, American and Australian nuclear societies; but it was through
the Nuclear Institute and particularly the YGN that I have been
fortunate enough to build up a good network of contacts and friends.
Whilst your professional work and training can prepare you for the
workplace, and put you in touch with those individuals in your
workplace, only an institution such as the YGN can open it up to the
entire industry, and the contacts and things you can learn through the
YGN enable you to take things that little bit further.
My little pearl of wisdom? Get involved! Oh and in
case you were wondering, I have 5 years to go before I must retire from