A small organisation on a very big mission…


By Callum Thomas, Founder and CEO of Thomas Thor Associates and Chairman of KeySource Global

For more than 60 years the UK has been a pioneer in nuclear power and was one of the first countries to use it to provide electricity to heat and light our homes and power our industry. It is part of our everyday lives. And although you might not know it, so is the ongoing daily management of the hazardous radioactive material left over from from electricity generation, medicine, industry, research and defence.

Now an organisation based at Harwell Campus – a beacon of global science and discovery – near Oxford, is addressing the extremely important environmental challenge of delivering a safe and permanent disposal solution for the long term. With over 30 years of research and development under its belt, using cutting edge science and technology and collaborating with partners around the world this is a team with a mission like no other, and one that spans 140 years into the future.

This organisation is Radioactive Waste Management (RWM), and its vision is to create a safer future by managing radioactive waste effectively, to protect people and the environment. RWM is an organisation that spends a lot more time on its core mission than on self-promotion, which is why you’re forgiven if you’ve not heard of RWM before now. Here’s what you should know.

Five things you should know about RWM

1. It’s environmental protection but not as we know it.

RWM is addressing an environmental challenge that right now most of us know little about. The UK civil nuclear industry has created a legacy of radioactive waste over the last 60 years. RWM collaborates with scientists around the world on multi-million pound research programmes, sharing the latest scientific advances and best practice. They also work with the producers of radioactive waste to find ways to package it that are suitable for disposal in a geological disposal facility (GDF). The management of waste on our planet, including plastics, household waste, CO2 and radioactive waste, is a top priority for our generation. RWM is at the heart of this effort, addressing possibly one the most challenging, and interesting, parts of environmental protection.

2. There’s long term planning and there’s long term planning.

While most of us are thinking ahead in months or maybe years, the team at RWM is looking at the next 140 years. Their GDF programme is the largest and longest term environmental infrastructure project ever to be undertaken in the UK. Having such a long term outlook has great advantages, such as avoiding the normal cyclical way of working that most organisations have to deal with and being able to focus on long term impactful work. We live at a time when job security is becoming more fragile, so it is great to see an organisation that has to think long term and provides long term career opportunities with plenty of growth potential.

3. If you want to dig down the only way is up

On the subject of growth, RWM currently employs 150 people and plans to increase the workforce to around 250 by the end of 2020. You might expect that everyone in the team has PhDs in nuclear engineering, and some do, but this is a team with a broad mix of experiences and backgrounds. Some have been with RWM for a long time and many others have joined in recent years from a variety of industries. To deliver its mission RWM needs expertise in communications, project management, research and operational management and many other disciplines as well as engineers and scientists.

4. We’re not all the same so let’s be flexible.

Flexible working practices are part of the culture at RWM. Most of the team are based at their head office near Oxford, with some based at other locations around the UK. They recognise that to attract and retain the team needed to deliver RWM’s mission it makes sense to take a long term view on the needs of employees. This means that the flexible working practices are designed to allow a good balance between work and other commitments, and above all to help team members to be healthy.

5. Getting better all the time.

One of the great benefits of a long-term mission and outlook is the ability to commit to far-reaching initiatives that really engage with employees to make a working environment that everyone can thrive in. Equality, diversity and inclusion are at the centre of RWM’s values and as an organisation it is focused on working together to make everyone who works at RWM feel respected, included and able to perform at their very best.

If you are interested in learning more about RWM, or if you are interested in career opportunities at RWM please send an email or CV to Jamie Braddock at rwm@thomas-thor.com

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