Careers in O.R.
Profiles - John-Patrick Richardson



John-Patrick Richardson

Job Title:   Technical Analyst
Years in Current Position:        1 year, 8 months
Organization Name:   National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL)
Qualifications:   BSc Management Science, MSc Management (Lancaster University)

Briefly describe the organization you work for.
The National Nuclear Laboratory is a nuclear technology services provider. The business specialises in providing customers with tailored solutions in a number of key areas including Nuclear Science; Waste & Residue Management; Plant Process Support; Modelling & Simulation; Materials & Corrosion; Environmental Management; Homeland Security & Non-Proliferation; Specialist Analytical Services; and Knowledge, Data & Laboratory Management.

How did you get your current job & what were the steps you took from graduation?
I received a call from a consultant at Morson International who saw my profile on Monster whilst sourcing applicants for a vacancy within the NNLís Operational Research team. I joined the NNL after successfully passing the interview process on an initial 6 month probation period, and was made full-time staff on completion of this trial. After graduation from my Masters degree, I worked for a period within a family business and then for Lloyds Private Banking Group within their Fulfilment Teams before joining the NNL.

How relevant was your subject of study in securing your current job?
I know that having an O.R. degree was a major advantage in securing this job from feedback from my Technical Team Leader (who also was my interviewer), as they knew I had the associated skills from that degree necessary in working within the O.R. team. The modules studied within both degrees displayed my aptitude in using various analytical techniques and applying them in practical ways.

Describe a typical working day in your current job.
The NNL bid to prospective customers by submitting proposal for projects from across the various business areas (customers are usually within the nuclear industry such as Sellafield Ltd). Iím usually working on 1 or 2 projects in parallel at any one time. Scope and project costing are developed in conjunction with our Project Engineers, and it is the overall project teamís responsibility to work to the high standard expected by each customer and to the agreed deadlines. Recent examples of projects I have worked on were analysing the quality of data that exists over many years on the contents of a building at Sellafield which contains legacy nuclear waste using R software and various statistical techniques; and the use of Systems Engineering principles to recommend a way forward for decision makers at Sellafield Ltd in their choice of containers to be used to retrieve (and eventually store) legacy nuclear waste from various locations within the Sellafield site.

How do you use your degree in your current job?
The skills I picked up from my degrees (both tangible and intangible) have been invaluable as almost all of my projects involve O.R. in some form, be it in the use of statistical techniques to analyse data or soft methods to look at systems within other organisations objectively in order to model them accurately. The Excel and WITNESS skills obtained from my O.R. degree have also been very advantageous in undertaking projects more efficiently.

What do you enjoy/like most about your job?
The variety of projects I am assigned is the most interesting part of my job. I never thought about a career in the nuclear industry before joining the NNL, and my gradual learning and understanding of how valuable it is for the UK to properly deal with legacy nuclear waste and to ensure the safe and efficient running of nuclear new builds in the UK makes my daily job a very enriching one that I feel is helping to make a difference to that end in a small way.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?
Understanding the technical and scientific nuances of the nuclear industry, as I didnít have any background in those areas before joining the NNL. I believe that O.R. is a discipline that can be applied to virtually any system or area of life, but an O.R. practitioner must also learn to understand the area and industry in which they are applying those techniques to, and so improving my understanding of the industry has been an ongoing but enjoyable challenge from day one.

Which skills do you consider to be essential for your job?
An ability to step outside of a problem or decision to be made in order to view it from an objective viewpoint to enable you to fully understand it is essential I think. People skills are also essential as working directly for customersí means that you have to communicate effectively with them throughout the course of any project to ensure that deliverables meet and exceed their expectations.

What influenced your career choice?
I had been looking to join a variety of graduate development schemes and graduate jobs since leaving university. Choosing to join NNL was made much more attractive by the knowledge of being involved in a dedicated O.R. team from day one, drawing on the original interest I had in O.R. ever since choosing the subject for my bachelors degree.

Your future career plans
I hope to continue to progress both within the O.R. team and within the wider NNL over the coming years. I have recently been nominated to join the NNLís Emerging Manager Development Programme, which I hope will further progress my understanding of the nuclear industry and visibility within the company. I have been involved in a variety of interesting projects during my first 20 months with the company, and I hope that will continue to be the case into the future.


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