Julianne Antrobus is the Global Head of Nuclear for PA Consulting – a technology and innovation consultancy firm based in the United Kingdom. She has worked in the Nuclear Sector for over 20 years. Julianne is a previous recipient of Forward Ladies’ National STEM Ambassador Award in recognition of her ongoing contribution to early stage careers and mentoring.
PURSUING A CAREER IN THE NUCLEAR SECTOR
From a young age, Julianne had a real curiosity about the world around her. This thirst for knowledge, and a passion for environmental science and technology, would eventually lead her to a career in nuclear energy.
As a young graduate, Julianne found herself fielding two job offers. One was as a consultant with a consultancy firm. The other opportunity was an offer to join a large blue chip company named British Nuclear Fuels. While considering which path to pursue, a friend questioned how she could take on a consultancy role without any real world experience post-university. Taking those words to heart, she decided to take the job with British Nuclear Fuels to gain the experience she knew she was lacking.
UNDERSTANDING WHAT YOU CAN’T SEE
It’s hard for people to understand what they can’t see, Julianne says. With nuclear energy, everything is hidden away in a nuclear. You don’t get to see where the magic happens. However, this could be about to change. “Something that perhaps isn’t widely understood is that when you look at the energy we have used over the last 20 years or so, nuclear has been a constant. It has helped to keep the lights on across the country. It’s been so quietly, and safely doing its job in the background that it has been overlooked. We haven’t needed to talk about it. But now we absolutely do.”
One of the reasons that the nuclear sector is on the cusp of a resurgence is the UK government’s Net Zero commitment. Clean nuclear energy has a key role to play in a balanced energy portfolio – making it an exciting prospect for a new generation. “We can’t rely on renewables alone,” Julianne says. We have seen what’s happened with gas and the price of gas as a result of the war in Ukraine. Coal has disappeared. Nuclear has been a constant and it needs to be replenished as the existing fleet comes offline.”
FUELLING PURPOSE & OPPORTUNITY
Having built her career in the sector, it’s no surprise that the nuclear industry is one that Julianne is passionate about. It’s a space that she sees as being relevant to a whole new generation.
“The next generation is all about purpose. They are purpose led. I see it within my own children and their peer groups. They want to make a difference to the world they live in. For me, it’s not a discussion about nuclear. It’s a discussion about clean energy and nuclear is a part of that. This comes with the ability to develop a rich career in a sector that has many opportunities.”
For Julianne, the ability to travel isn’t just a privilege, it also represents a chance to learn. “I’ve been privileged to be on a number of trade delegations – to the Middle East, China, Japan, the USA and Canada,” she says. “The ability to travel and to collaborate with different cultures and partner with organisations is a source of great pride. Often, I may be way out of my comfort zone but I’m soaking it all up. I have found myself in some extraordinary places and that is very humbling.”
WORKING OUTSIDE OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Embracing fear is one of this female leader’s secrets when it comes to stepping outside of her comfort zone. “There isn’t a day goes by that I’m not out of my comfort zone,” she admits. “That’s my measure of fear. I am not scared of something or someone. My fear manifests itself in being out of my comfort zone. I get butterflies in my tummy. I’m super prepared. If I’m going to be out of comfort zone, the way to mitigate against that is to be prepared.”
Her top two tips for dealing with fear are:
- Build a great team: There’s nothing more rewarding than building a team you can trust, who you can also see grow and thrive. “That’s how I mitigate against fear. That’s the thing I would say to any leader. That’s the first thing I focus on. The team I want to win with me.”
- Start with a blank piece of paper: A new opportunity could mean the power to begin with a blank piece of paper and chart your own course. “The opportunity to come with a blank piece of paper and do it all again and build a business from first principles, in my own way as a leader, and defining how I wanted to show up, the excitement and opportunity that provided was greater than any risk.”
BUILDING A NETWORK
Whether you’re just starting out, taking on a first leadership role or growing in your present role, building, and nurturing a network is undoubtedly a challenge. This is an area for Julianne has thrived.
- One of the most important skills you can develop is the art of conversation. “My parents owned a hotel. I grew up front of house from the age of four or five, having to work and be able to talk to people. It is a skill,” Julianne shares. “That has transcended into how I collaborate with people. Collaboration and how we partner with other organisations will be key to what we can do in the nuclear sector. It doesn’t matter if it’s the chairman, the CEO or the cleaner – they are all important people and should be treated with the same reverence and respect.”
- It should never be just a transactional relationship. Growing a network isn’t something that happens overnight. It can take years to develop. You can help that along by remembering the person at the other end of that network, Julianne says, “Some of my clients are going through major transformations. There has to be a personal engagement to check in and say, ‘are you ok?’. It’s about building long-term, enduring relationships based on trust. You have to earn that respect and deliver on the things you said you would deliver. Response and feedback to people is also important. It helps them to realise they are a priority in your day.
- Find your sponsors. Getting to know those above and around you who can help you navigate, who can be the voice of your behalf and represent you when you’re not in the room, is very important.
Listen to the full episode and dive deeper into Julianne’s career and the other lessons she’s learned in her leadership journey.
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ABOUT GRISELDA TOGOBO:
She is also a multi-faceted entrepreneur, engineer, and chartered accountant. Her experience as a black woman in the corporate world drives her to help progressive global companies create inclusive workplaces. She works directly with CEOs and business leaders to embed a culture of inclusion at the heart of their talent strategy. She is a respected and impactful speaker and is known for her high energy and engaging style. Griselda offers a fresh perspective and approach to developing leaders https://www.forwardladies.com/about/griselda-togobo/.
Griselda is passionate about supporting female leaders through the professional women’s network forwardladies.com.
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