Year 10 and 11 boys spent an enlightening Form period with former pupil Pete Miller, who spoke to them about his career in the nuclear industry.
Pete, visiting virtually, told how he started at Bolton School in 1973, when he joined Park Road. He recalled how his interests had laid in the Sciences but he did say it was ironic that, although he had not been great at English comprehension, he had spent a lot of his working life writing and reading reports. He left Senior School in 1982 with A levels in Maths, Physics and Chemistry and went on to study Physics at the University of Manchester. Post-degree, in 1985, he joined NNC Ltd who built and commissioned nuclear power stations. He told how he spent 18 months there on their graduate training scheme, which included three placements, one of which was in Risk and Safety Assessment, which was to become his future career.
In 1988, after 3 years at NNC, he moved to join a consultancy and within a year was managing small projects. This was to be his calling for the next 33 years as he began his career in safety assessment and safety management, which saw him working with clients throughout the world in the nuclear and defence industries. Pete explained how he worked on nearly all the UK power stations and in all the UK naval submarine dockyards, as well as at nuclear fuel fabrication sites and reprocessing plants. He recalled specific projects at Sellafield Ltd and on nuclear submarines at Barrow at Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd (now BAE Systems).
Pete told of several interesting projects he had been involved with in subsequent consulting jobs, including safety cases on the London Underground and for the demolition of the cooling towers at the Calder Hall Nuclear Power Station (actually on the Sellafield Site), and how his final role as Principal Consultant saw him working at Springfields near Preston.
In summation, his advice to the audience was try to keep your options open if you can, at both school and university and to bear in mind you may only use 10% of what you learn! When applying for jobs, he told the boys to try and get one with a graduate training programme and to try to be continually learning, especially when you are young. Pete told the pupils to choose a job or career carefully as it needs to be interesting to you. Once in a job, he said, never be scared to take the next step. The most important thing, he felt, was to be happy in your work. Considering attitude, Pete said you should never compromise on the quality of your work and do show yourself willing to take on challenges. Finally, he said, make it as much fun as you can!
Pete finished by talking about the responsibility that comes with managing high risk projects and his thoughts on how true-to-life the recent Chernobyl drama had been.