Operations Director - Nuclear
With a passion for mentoring and team development, Danielle Slattery’s industry know-how is vital as the UK nuclear sector enters something of a renaissance. As our clients increasingly seek out cleaner energy sources, Danielle is leading the way on several of our nuclear projects as we all strive to do more for the future of the planet.
- How did you get into what you do?
I would say I took a less conventional path into the industry than most. I studied history and always imagined that after graduating, I’d move into law or a related field. However, graduating in the wake of the 2008 recession made establishing a career fairly challenging as many companies were forced to put graduate schemes and training opportunities on hold. This gave me time to really reflect on what I wanted to do and if I wanted to invest in further education. An opportunity arose in retail management which I took while I decided my next step.
In 2012 I was approached about joining a large security infrastructure programme at Sellafield, which was my first step into the nuclear sector. It was there that I was first introduced to Mace and I joined the company in 2014 as they offered great potential for progression and professional development. I was then promoted to lead and grow the Mace Sellafield commission which was an excellent platform to enhance my technical skills and develop my career further.
- What do you enjoy about your current role at Mace?
My role is incredibly diverse with a lot of variety which keeps things challenging yet exciting. My main focus is on growing the Mace business, but it also includes a lot of people management and a part-time client programme-based role. My area is currently expanding across the broader Nuclear Decommissioning Authority estate and supporting on projects with new nuclear clients. I’m particularly enjoying contributing to this sector growth, in addition to focusing on programme development and supporting my team to deliver for our clients.
- How do you redefine the boundaries of ambition?
It’s been really rewarding contributing to the growth of the nuclear business within Mace. When I first joined the company, our remit was quite small with only a few people working in the Sellafield and Hinkley Point C teams. Today, the nuclear team has grown to around 150 people and keeps expanding. For me, it’s been fantastic to grow a high performing team that is delivering value for our clients in my local area. Helping resource and upskill local talent will create sustainable communities and support a lasting legacy in the North West of England which is something I am passionate about.
- What's been your proudest achievement at Mace so far?
I really enjoyed being part of the Mace Women of the Future development programme. It gave me a great opportunity to focus on my continued professional development and network with people across the business. One of the women I met on the course was facing a challenge like one I had previously experienced and I was able to provide some mentoring on that topic. At the end of the course, she shared with me that she’d taken my advice and it helped her to achieve a promotion. It was great to see the tangible outputs of our conversation and I was proud to have been able to support her on her career journey.
- Why Mace?
I was looking for a company that would offer me strong development opportunities, and I’ve been fortunate to grow my career from a junior level to a senior one during my time with Mace. I’ve found the company is very good at providing latitude for people to develop and grow as they need to - there’s a real entrepreneurial spirit that encourages colleagues to take the driving seat in where they want their career to go. From my position in the Defence Energy Nuclear and Utilities Business Unit, I’ve also been able to watch the company expand beyond belief, and with some significant growth forecast in the coming years, it’s a really exciting place to work.
- What motivates you everyday?
I’m one of those people who needs to be busy to be motivated. I love having a challenge every day and seeing value being delivered for our clients. I also find the people management aspects very rewarding – I’m very people focused and working through challenges with each person in my team is something that really keeps me motivated.
- What skills do you need to be good at your job?
When I began my career in nuclear energy, it was a lot more technical delivery focused. Now I’d say key skills needed are being able to set out your vision and utilise leadership skills to build relationships around the Mace business and with our clients. Stakeholder management and customer relationship management is also key, as in a fast-growing sector being able to understand the diverse and developing demands of our clients is absolutely critical for success.
- What are the best things about working in the nuclear sector?
At the moment, the sector is going through a period of rapid growth and there’s a recognition that nuclear is an essential part of the mix to moving to sustainable energy within the UK. This sector is a great place for those who are looking for a career with strong growth potential. For me personally, it’s an exciting time as it’s a great opportunity to play a part in creating sustainable energy for our country’s future. The nuclear industry encompasses so many different jobs, covering accountancy all the way through to nuclear scientists and everything in between. My educational background gave me a range of transferable skills which you don’t typically find in STEM disciplines. This sometimes provides a different perspective which is crucial in diverse teams. Because of that, I’d say there’s no one-size-fits-all career path to succeed in the nuclear sector.
“It’s a great place for those who are looking for a career with strong growth potential. For me, it’s exciting as it’s a great opportunity to play a part in creating sustainable energy for our country’s future. ”