Thomas Thor Associates are proud to be supporting the UK Atomic Energy Authority in the appointment of a STEP Director.

The Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) is an ambitious programme to accelerate the delivery of sustainable fusion energy. The STEP programme is a staged programme to design and build the world’s first compact fusion reactor, based on the spherical tokamak, by 2040.

This is an exciting opportunity to drive the pioneering of commercial Fusion Technology, and is well suited to a dynamic champion of delivery of major programmes.

Role description

To lead the STEP programme including leadership and direction of c.300 employees and a budget responsibility of £220M over five years, delivering on a programme of international visibility and high-profile within UK government. Leading liaison with UK government and fund-raising (of order £500M) for the future programme.

To serve as a director of UKAEA, playing a full role within the executive of the organisation

Reporting to the CEO.


  • Develop a five-year plan for the STEP programme and secure all necessary governmental approvals
  • Manage the safe and successful operation of large unique high-tech prototypes and facilities.
  • Manage the procurement of high-tech equipment to establish these facilities drawing on UKAEA capabilities and filling gaps with strategic partners as required.
  • Build external relationships with business, universities, government departments, international partners and other sources of funding to attract additional investment/funding to support the business plan.
  • Lead and direct the technical development programme and ensure the establishment of a portfolio of protected IP to ensure that STEP is an investible proposition in the next phase of the programme.
  • Working with the CEO and other directors to manage the affairs of the UKAEA representing the wider UKAEA programme interests at the UKAEA Board meetings and Board sub-committees when requested, as well as attending the Executive Committee.
  • Work with the CEO and other directors to develop and implement the long term strategy for the UKAEA fusion R&D programme in line with BEIS and Financial requirements/constraints.
  • Act in highly visible government liaison, industry networking, technical review and public facing roles.
  • Establish the mechanisms to communicate progress on the STEP programme to wider audiences in the UK and internationally, in government and private industry and with the general public.
  • Maximise spillover benefits of STEP in adjacent sectors.
  • Demonstrate impact to government sponsors.
  • Ensure that appropriate corporate legal status, governance/ financial procedures and health and safety measures are all appropriately compliant and monitored.
  • Recruit, motivate and develop a team that will deliver the business plan and build the reputation of the new facilities.
  • Ensure that the new facilities are integrated within the broader UKAEA programme portfolio

Budget Responsibility:

Budget control for the STEP budget of £220M over five years. The jobholder will need to play a key role, together with other UKAEA directors, in securing funding from both public and private sources for the second phase of the STEP programme, likely to mean raising in excess of £500M Procurement of £100M of capital spend in the next five years as well as an annual revenue budget of over £20M. Managing extensive contracts with external sub-contractors in the industrial supply chain and UK universities, with the aim of out-sourcing half of the STEP budget.

Essential skills

  • Substantial experience of management of large programmes (>£100M)
  • Proven ability to handle ambiguity, uncertainty and high levels of complexity in project delivery
  • International leadership profile in a relevant technical discipline
  • Experience of contributing to the development and delivery of organisational strategy
  • Excellent understanding of the wider issues impacting the UK science and innovation landscape
  • Experience of managing large scientific and engineering teams
  • Degree in relevant discipline with significant experience within scientific or engineering related discipline
  • Experience of stakeholder management with industry and academia, preferably in UK science or energy sector
Published by Thomas Thor

Thomas Thor Associates is a consulting and recruitment organisation providing services to the global nuclear sector. We represent nuclear industry experts and provide nuclear jobs to our clients for either freelance contract assignments or permanent staff positions.

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