How I Fell Into My Current Job
How James Rudd Found Himself Working In Nuclear
How I Fell into the Nuclear Industry: James Rudd, Business Development Manager, NSG Environmental
I grew up in the small, sleepy, picture-postcard village of Thornton-le-Dale, nestled on the southern edge of the North York Moors. It’s a great place to grow up, but it is very little in the way of significant employers other than farming, small businesses and tourism.
I was reasonably bright at school but no genius compared to my more intellectual and academic peers. Whilst there, I found that it took me a long time to write anything down, so my interests tended towards the STEM subjects, where it was possible to get away with writing a lot less and using numbers. I did reasonably well with my GCSEs, but I did not have a career or my future planned at that stage. I enjoyed school, so I decided to stay on and do my A levels.
I had an older brother who studied Maths, Physics and Chemistry at A level, so I elected to do the same — I thought all I had to do was get higher grades than him, and my parents would be content.
Again, during my A level years, my choice of a career needed to be considered. I explored a few career options through short placements and research. Eventually, I narrowed it down to Mechanical Engineering — probably, again, as this was the subject that my older brother had selected, and I thought I could get away with achieving a higher grade than him!
My university decision was based on the following criteria:
- It had to be far enough away that I was escaping from my parents’ influence
- It was close enough that my parents could drive me and my stuff there
- It had to have some of the best sporting facilities in the region
Considering my criteria, Sheffield Hallam was selected as my best option. It turned out to be a good choice, as it was a good university that provided me with a good grounding in engineering. I enjoyed the first two years studying and in the third year I elected to take a placement year working at McCain Foods in the maintenance team.
After completing my degree, I made the only sensible choice: I went back out to work as a holiday rep in France for another long hot summer. My time there was fun, but the real fun was combining nine months of engineering with another six months of working abroad as a holiday rep in France. Unfortunately, the summer holidays only last a season and I returned to England knowing that I finally had to try and get a ‘proper’ job.
Looking for work was something I had never done before, so I did not know how to do it. I, therefore, took the only logical approach I could think of and did some research into all the exciting engineering companies in my local(ish) area. I then went about writing letters to them all. This process took a while; in two weeks, I sent four letters to engineering companies and wrote four letters to winter holiday skiing companies (as a backup plan).
Luckily, one of the engineering companies wrote back and within two weeks I was employed as a Project Engineer with a robotics company called Labman Automation. My role was to help build robotic systems for pharmaceutical R&D. I enjoyed this work, but my line managers soon realised that my skills at machining and manufacturing components were not as strong as my ability to understand technical details and relay them to clients.
There has never been a better time to Get Into Nuclear.
I was presented with the opportunity to move to America and open up an office to explore the potential for growth in the US pharmaceutical industry automation market and jumped at the chance. This was a fantastic opportunity for a 23-year-old and I travelled around many pharmaceutical sites in the US and successfully sold two large robotic systems. After a year, as part of an expansion programme, my customer interfacing skills were recognised.
After a year and a half in the US, the 9/11 disaster occurred and one of the knock-on effects was a pause in pharmaceutical investment funding. Shortly after, Labman reviewed their investment decision to carry on with the US office and I was made redundant.
After a few months of looking around and several interviews, I was lucky enough to be given a job working for an engineering company that provided equipment and services to the pharmaceutical industry as an Internal Sales Engineer at Extract Technology. My responsibilities included working with clients around the world and providing them with solutions and proposals for powder handling challenges.
After a couple of years working there, I recognised that their market position had changed and they were struggling to find new orders, so I posted my CV on an online recruitment website. Within a couple of months, my CV was picked up by a recruitment agency and subsequently passed on as a potential candidate to fill a possible new position at NSG Environmental Ltd. At the time, I knew very little about the company, but I dutifully did some research and became more intrigued.
When I went for the interview with NSG, the company was based out of a few portable cabins and an old workshop that used to be part of the British Leyland production works. During my first visit to the facility and through discussions with staff, I could see NSG’s potential. Although they were a small company operating in a niche market, they appeared to have great longevity of work. After a series of interviews, I was lucky to be offered the position of Commercial Engineer. Without any plan, I had fallen into the nuclear industry when it was going through a lot of change and growth with the formation of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
Over the 17 years, I have been with NSG, my role has matured and developed as the business has grown. I am now one of the company’s Business Development Managers and part of a successful team that look for new work in the nuclear waste management, decommissioning and site services market. Over that time, NSG has grown from a company turning over £3m and employing 20 staff to a company turning over nearly £40 million and employing almost 300 staff.
Although I fell into nuclear by accident, I would recommend a career in the industry. It has undoubtedly been one of the best decisions I have ever made. During my time in the industry, I have become increasingly involved in a number of nuclear programmes and I can see great opportunities for others to make the jump and get involved in the industry.
I want to take the opportunity to thank James for sharing his career story and providing inspiration to others who may be apprehensive about applying for a role in the nuclear industry.
James is a great guy who has done a lot to help NIS grow over the last couple of years. He is also one of the key players in the success of the Northern Nuclear Alliance.
You can find James on LinkedIn.
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