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Attracting world class project managers

SellafieldThe Sellafield site, situated on the Cumbrian coast, represents one of the largest and most complex infrastructure challenges in the UK.  Covering an area of 6sq km and with more than 200 nuclear facilities, the site carries out fuel recycling, nuclear waste management, storage, and of course the decommissioning of facilities associated with the UK’s nuclear legacy. The site is also home to the UK’s first nuclear power generation plant, Calder Hall, which like many of the oldest facilities on the site, is now also being decommissioned.  These processes require where possible, the use of ‘off-the-shelf’ solutions, along with tried and tested technologies from the nuclear and other industries, in a uniquely challenging environment, demanding a wide variety of safe and high quality design, engineering, project management and supply chain management skills.

Sellafield Ltd increasingly recognises that reaching out beyond the nuclear industry provides an opportunity to bring best in class experience from other sectors, in order to capture and deploy new ideas and approaches that will raise overall capabilities and skills levels. Ultimately the plan is to create a stable and sustainable longer term leadership succession plan for the life-time of the business. For those individuals who exhibit a high degree of sensitivity to the demands of the nuclear sector and inspire confidence through their impressive track records in multiple complex and large budget projects, the wide range of opportunities on the site offer unique practical and intellectual challenges.

Wickland Westcott was chosen by Sellafield Ltd to lead the search for highly experienced Program Directors who could bring exceptional large scale project management capabilities from other sectors.  The search strategy adopted drew upon our knowledge and experience of working in relevant sectors that are characterised by strict regulatory, safety, environmental and security measures.  Our access to the most senior and appropriate individuals in, for example, energy, oil and gas, defence, and rail, provided us with a broad range of candidates to consider for these roles. The competition for high calibre talent in project/program management is intense, particularly with rail/transportation, offshore and nuclear ‘new build’, offering highly paid opportunities elsewhere in the country. This meant that the initial search approach to candidates had to carry a compelling message in order to engage them in the recruitment process.

Wickland Westcott’s success in supporting Sellafield Ltd is based on a fundamental understanding of its business activities, an appreciation of the culture and the nature of the roles required, and our presence in the northwest, which helped us to clearly articulate the benefits and positive experiences associated with living and working in this region. This approach of targeting the right individuals, coupled with a clear articulation of the operating environment and career opportunities presented by Sellafield Ltd, was pivotal in successfully completing the assignment. The result was the recruitment of two high quality individuals – both bringing a mix of defence and power engineering industry experience.

Ian Marr, Head of Project Functions at Sellafield Ltd commented “We have been particularly impressed with the approach and commitment from Wickland Westcott, who took the time to understand our business and the characteristics required to fill these critical roles. The calibre of candidates and the support provided during the search process has been exemplary and the quality of service given by the team at Wickland Westcott has resulted in a great outcome with two outstanding hires”.