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What I love most is dealing with people

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Sian Downey at her computer
Sian Downey at work

Q. What’s your job here at Oldbury Technical Centre?

I’m a Senior Human Resources (HR) Business Partner, based at Wylfa site, but it’s a corporate role so I oversee the HR aspects of most of the sites. Essentially, I’m part of the leadership team, responsible for ensuring that the ‘people’ aspects of the business such as training, recruitment, absence management  and general personnel issues are deployed in line with our agreed procedures.

Q. What was your career route to this role?

I joined as a clerical apprentice straight from school, after Year 11, aged 16. The placement was for 2 years and I moved around different roles so I was able to understand the workings of a nuclear power station. I also spent one year as a health physics monitor but knew it was not for me in the long term so when a role as a payroll clerk in Human Resources (HR) came up, I applied and was successfuland I’ve remained in this function ever since.!

Q. What do you enjoy most about your role?

What I love most is dealing with people and the huge variety of work. Every member of staff is an individual and every day is different. Something unexpected usually crops up, for example, a people-related problem might need to be solved, or we might need to take a very tailored approach to support someone.

Q. What’s the most challenging element?

We have a set of guidelines and policies which need to be applied consistently. However, we’re dealing with people not machinery, so it can be challenging to ensure we balance individual, case-by-case personal responses with confidence that our decision-making is consistent with our procedures.

Q. What support have you had through your career in Magnox to develop?

Magnox is a fantastic company to work for, and I know it sounds ‘corny’ , but it does feel like one large family. There is a sense of caring for colleagues, and I have always had great support including access to a wide variety of job-related training, good leadership training and encouragement to take professional qualifications I’ve also had more personal support from a career mentor and life coach.

Q. How do you find the nuclear decommissioning industry?

I’ve always worked in the nuclear industry and, for me, it’s been exciting to have experienced the electricity-generating phase, followed by defueling and now we’ve moved into decommissioning. Many of our projects are complex – no-one has dismantled nuclear power stations in the UK before – and we’re encouraged to take innovative approaches, to learn as we make progress and to share this learning across all the sites that are often facing similar challenges.

Q. Why did you opt for a modern apprenticeship?

I knew I wanted to get into a work environment as soon as possible. I’d done some work experience while at school, enjoyed it and simply knew that full-time university wasn’t for me. Being paid while learning on the job and gaining qualifications was also a great bonus!

Q. Would you recommend an apprenticeship to young people as an alternative to university or college?

Most definitely, and especially with a company such as Magnox Ltd, because the career development opportunities are there for everyone.

Q. Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

I want to continue learning and enjoying my HR work, while feeling that I’m making a difference to Magnox, and to our people strategy.

Read more from apprentices past and present:

To find out more information on apprenticeship roles and how to apply, visit our main article and the Energus website.

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