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ONR inspectors selected for international mentoring programme

Three inspectors from the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) will take part in this year’s UK-France Women in Nuclear (WiN) mentoring programme, a prestigious scheme aimed at enhancing diversity in the sector.

Eleanor Crossley, Rachel Curtis and Zoe Wu were selected by the government’s Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) to take part in the cross-Channel initiative, following a competitive application process. They will each be mentored by a senior figure from the French nuclear sector.

Through supporting early- to mid-career women in the British and French nuclear sectors, the scheme aims to develop capability, share knowledge, expand international networks and ultimately improve diversity. Mentors will also benefit from the perspectives offered by their mentees.

Following a virtual launch event, this year’s participants came together in London on 1 June for a face-to-face event.

As well as opportunities to network, the event featured a panel session on the topic: ‘What can the UK and French governments and industry do to support the next generation of female leaders in nuclear?’

It also included visits to the Imperial Centre for Nuclear Engineering and the French Ambassador’s residence, with remarks from Gerrit van Rossum, Deputy Head of Mission/Ministre Conseiller, and Ivan Baldwin, President of WiN UK, along with a presentation from WiN UK representative Leanne Cowie.

Eleanor Crossley is a nuclear equivalence inspector for structural integrity within ONR’s Operating Facilities division.

She said: “It’s a massive honour to be representing ONR and the UK on this year’s mentoring scheme – it will be a really valuable experience.

“The event in London had such a positive atmosphere and the visit to the French embassy was a particular highlight.

“Within the nuclear sector it is rare to be in a room of predominantly women, so it was rewarding to have that experience and build solidarity with others from the UK and France.

“I am looking forward to establishing a working relationship with my mentor, being inspired by her career journey and benefiting from her insight and advice.”

Rachel Curtis, a nuclear safety inspector for external hazards within our New Reactors division, said:

“It is very exciting to be accepted onto the scheme, which offers a great opportunity to meet others with a similar enthusiasm for making a difference and learn from their different perspectives.

“My mentor is highly experienced within the French nuclear sector, so I look forward to hearing about challenges he has overcome and how he has developed as a leader. I also hope to share my own experiences with him.

“At the event in London there was a great energy in the room, focused on understanding the challenges related to gender balance and what we can do to improve diversity for future generations.”

Zoe Wu, a nuclear internal hazards and site safety inspector for our Decommissioning, Fuel and Waste sub-division, said:

“I feel privileged to be part of the mentoring scheme this year, particularly as there was so much competition to be accepted. I hope to use the opportunity to build my network, learn from people outside of ONR and help promote gender balance within the sector.

“Meeting so many great people with different backgrounds at the event in London showed me the range of opportunities available in the sector. It was a powerful motivator for me to actively get involved in the drive towards greater equality, diversity and inclusion.

“Working together through initiatives like the UK-France mentoring scheme is vital to address the challenges surrounding the recruitment and retention of diverse talent in the nuclear sector.”

Congratulations to Eleanor, Rachel, Zoe and all the other participants in this year’s scheme, and thank you to DESNZ, WiN UK and their French counterparts for organising the programme.

Read our previous news story to learn more about how last year’s scheme benefited ONR inspectors.