Nov 272019

Non-Executive Director - The National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL)

Recruiter: Green Park
Location: London and UK various
Salary: Remuneration will be £25,000 per annum.
Posted: 27 Nov 2019
Closes: 5 Jan 2020
Ref: 9122
Position/Level: Board
Responsibilities: Executive Management, Strategy
Sector: Public Sector
Contract Type: Permanent
Language: English

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).

NNL was created in 2009 and is owned and sponsored by BEIS, with the shareholder function being managed by UK Government Investments (UKGI).

NNL is currently going through a multi-year programme of Business Transformation as it adapts to the new opportunities of the evolving nuclear landscape.

Person Specification

The NNL is seeking a Non-Executive Director, with nuclear sector expertise, 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 four 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 vision, values and strategy for the business.

It is expected that the new Non-Executive Director will join the Board to replace current post-holder who is coming to the end of his term in 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 position 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 Role

Essential Criteria

The Non-Executive Director should be a senior leader 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 appointee will also need to bring experience and knowledge covering the following areas:

  • 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 relevant interface with the commercial sector and government.
  • 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.
  • Knowledge of international nuclear organisations, policies and companies
  • Capable of chairing the NNL board in the absence of the chair

Desirable Criteria

It is desirable that the appointee has an understanding of business or commercial activity gained in competitive markets, with some experience of one or more of the following: the commercialising of technology; strategic planning; risk management; project management; and managing organisational and cultural change.

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.

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

How to Apply and Timetable

Your application

If you wish to apply for this position, you must submit the following two documents:

A supporting statement (maximum two sides A4) highlighting your suitability and setting out, with clear examples, how you meet the essential criteria as highlighted in the Person Specification. Please note that the supporting statement is an important part of your application, it is an evidence-based document and is as much the means by which you will be assessed as your CV.

A comprehensive CV setting out your career history, with responsibilities and achievements. Please provide details of your current remuneration package (and band if you are an internal candidate from within the Civil Service) and two professional referees together with a brief statement of the capacity and over what period of time they have known you. Referees will not be contacted before final interviews without your express permission.

Additionally, please also provide the following:

A statement of conflicts of interest: if you, your spouse/partner, dependants, business partner or associate have any business interest or other activities which are or could be perceived as a conflict of interest with the role, you should declare that in your supporting statement. This may involve suspending or relinquishing stock market activity.

A completed Diversity Monitoring Form. All monitoring data will be treated in the strictest confidence and will not affect your application in any way; you may select ‘Prefer not to say’ if you do not wish to answer any questions.

We are a Guaranteed Interview Scheme employer. If applying under the Guaranteed Interview Scheme (GIS), please complete the form downloadable.

Please email your completed application, including the vacancy reference number and job title;
Ref: 9122 - NNL - NED in the subject line of your email to:

The closing date for all applications is 23:59 Sunday 5th January.

If you do not receive an automated response email within 24 hours of submitting your application, please call 020 3145 3434 and speak to the Public Sector Search team, who can verify whether your application has been received or not.


Please note that these dates are only indicative at this stage and could be subject to change. If you are unable to meet these timeframes, please let us know in your application letter.

The anticipated timeline is as follows:

Application closing date 23:59 Sunday 5th January
Sift meeting TBC
Panel Interview TBC

Further Information

If you have any other questions about this position, or for an informal, confidential discussion please contact Green Park, our retained executive search partner and speak to Andrea Trainer or Emma Berwick on 0207 399 3240.

We will send you a copy of the reports from any assessments undertaken as part of the recruitment process once the recruitment has concluded

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