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Spotlight: We shine the light this week on Jean Llewellyn


Jean LlewellynJean Llewellyn, chief executive of the National Skills Academy for Nuclear, talks to about her 10-year career break to raise a family, which helped to motivate her when she returned to work, and the great advice that her father gave her that continues to inspire her.

Name: Jean Llewellyn
Age: 51
Job title: Chief executive of the National Skills Academy for Nuclear and chair of the National Skills Academy Strategic Network.

Brief description of the job that you do:
I am responsible for creating, developing and leading the National Skills Academy for Nuclear.

I am also very honoured to have been appointed as the first chair of the National Skills Academy Strategic Network.

What do you love best about your job?

I feel very passionately about the National Skills Academy for Nuclear (I have worked on it from its inception) and the skills academy network as a whole. One aspect which really motivates me is that employers have been very keen to be involved and have responded so positively to its aims - they have been in the driving seat from day one.

The academy originally set out to deal with decommissioning, however, I realised very early on that the skills academy is needed in all the sectors of the nuclear industry, including defence, the whole fuel cycle and new build. The sector is facing a period of growth and change – and the academy can help with the resulting skills challenges.

I have a small and dedicated team and it is inspiring to work with them in such a flexible and dynamic organisation. It is exciting to head up an organisation which is so responsive to the needs of the sector - and we will keep responding.

What do you find most challenging?

The most challenging element of running the academy is to manage all the work there is to do. Since our business plan was approved at the end of 2007 the industry has changed significantly with new build and a deep geological repository both on the horizon. This is very exciting but also creates a clear challenge in terms of prioritising our work.

As chair of the network the challenge is to try and ensure all the skills academies are working well together. Each one has a unique model and business plan to complement its sector, but to ensure maximum impact for employers we need to speak with one voice whenever possible.

What's the best advice that you would give to someone new to this type of position?

Stay focused on delivery of your business plan, this is what the employers want, so remaining focused on the core vision is essential.

What's the best advice that's been given to you that has helped you in your career?

My father gave me excellent support and guidance for my career, he told me some key principles that I should always remember, he said:

  • You are as good as anyone else, don't ever let people talk down to you or push you around

  • If there is something that you want to achieve then try your best and really strive to achieve it

  • Never believe that because you are a woman this will hold you back, if you're right for the job then have the confidence to go out and show them

  • Always treat others as you would want to be treated, respect for all is essential

  • Good leaders care for and trust their teams and don't bully them and order them around
  • How do you see the National Skills Academy developing over the next few years?

    Raising skills levels in the nuclear sector is so important and challenging that I see myself as leading the National Skills Academy for Nuclear for many years. I intend to have set up a really robust and effective organisation with long-term sustainability. I want to see the skills academy firmly established as a key part of the industry. There will be new and on-going challenges facing the sector and I aim to keep the skills academy vibrant and responsive so that we can adapt and face those challenges as they arise.

    In the next few years I hope that the National Skills Academy Network will become a strong and effective network that is well recognised as key to addressing the skills needs of employers.

    What's the best career help book that you've ever read?

    I don't tend to read career books I would far rather learn by observing those around me and learning from their experiences and successes.

    What's the best event within the training community that you've ever attended?

    I recently had a one-to-one session on public speaking and presentation skills. I speak at a lot of conferences both in the UK and internationally, this one-to-one development has really helped improve my skills in this area .

    Who do you think is the most inspirational member of the training community and have you ever met them?

    My former boss Fran Hulbert - skills policy director at the Northwest Regional Development Agency - was an inspirational leader, who gave me the confidence to develop and further my career after returning to full-time employment after having a family. Her support and guidance helped me to achieve this challenging position - she was a great role model.

    What else would you like to share with our readers?

    I had a 10-year career break whilst my children were young and I loved every minute of bringing up a young family. This didn't hinder my career, rather it helped it as I returned to full-time work inspired and really motivated to achieve. I had also learnt so many new skills that could never be learnt in the workplace. I say to any woman - don't see having a family as a potential block to your career, instead it is a great time and can actually help you to achieve things you never expected, with dedication and enthusiasm you can achieve your ambitions.


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