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#InsideAtkinsRéalis Talks to Electrical, Control & Instrumentation (C&I) Team Group Head Clara Martin Rodriguez.

Clara leads nuclear industry projects, delivering innovative solutions for complex issues faced by power stations, whether generating, decommissioning, or under construction.

Photo of Clara at her workstation

Clara, what was your educational background and first job in the power industry?

I studied an MEng in Mechanical Engineering with a major in Automation and Electronics at the Technical University of Madrid. After graduation, I joined an engineering company in Madrid that produced detailed design for international EPC companies within the power industry.

How did your career lead you to work at AtkinsRéalis?

While office-based, I worked as a C&I Engineer on the design of combined cycle and thermal power plants. After my first year, I volunteered for an 11-month secondment in a remote area of Turkey as a Commissioning Engineer. That was an incredibly challenging but rewarding experience that helped me develop, so when I returned to my office-based role, I knew I wanted more.

Shortly after, AtkinsRéalis launched its international recruitment campaign. I decided to apply, and after a phone interview and a face-to-face interview in Bristol, I was offered a position in the Nuclear & Power business as a C&I Assistant Engineer.

Can you describe your 10-year journey and career progression at AtkinsRéalis?

I've been involved in a wide variety of projects and experienced multiple roles that have challenged me and helped me develop many skills. Initially, I was mainly a task engineer. I worked alongside senior engineers, delivering technical work or as a project manager, ensuring projects met the quality, budget, and program objectives. As time went by, I gained more responsibility in technical delivery.

Photo of Clara with colleagues surrounded by plants

What is your current role and experience in technical leadership and management?

I currently work as a technical lead and technical governance manager delegate. I have been a line manager for many years and the group lead of the Bristol electrical C&I team for over four years. I recently became the C&I Technical Community Chair of the Nuclear & Power Europe, Middle East & Africa division.

What motivates you in your project work?

I really enjoy the problem-solving nature of the projects we deliver for our clients. I like how the feeling of being slightly nervous at the start of a project when the clients talk us through the issues they face turns into confidence and accomplishment as we come up with the solutions, and they take shape. On the technical front, I have a soft spot for decommissioning, aging, and obsolescence projects that enable safe waste management and continuous operation of the existing nuclear fleet.

What has been your experience as a people leader at AtkinsRéalis, and how has it contributed to your personal and professional growth?

I find being a people leader both a challenging and a very rewarding experience. Before working for AtkinsRéalis, I hadn't led anyone, so this is an area where I've massively developed. The company has great signature programs that have helped me learn not only about being a good leader but also about myself and my strengths. I have also had and still have a ton of great mentors and sounding boards across the company.

"A huge career highlight for me was being named one of the Top 3 Women in Activity in the EU, the UK, and Switzerland at the 2021 Fem'Energia Awards." —Clara

How has working on diverse nuclear projects at AtkinsRéalis enhanced your skills?

I have worked for many different clients in nuclear generation, decommissioning, new build and fusion research projects. I was new to the nuclear industry when I joined AtkinsRéalis, and thanks to being exposed to so many different opportunities, I have quickly developed a broad understanding of the industry. I have had visibility of many other aspects of projects as I have undertaken a wide variety of roles within projects of different sizes and at different stages.

What sets AtkinsRéalis's culture apart from other workplaces?

The culture is quite different here; we invest a lot in developing our people through training programs. We have a good support structure through the line management community. If you're flexible and proactive, you'll develop an interesting and rewarding career here.

Photo of Clara with a Christmas tree

How does sustainability in power generation contribute to social impact?

Social impact, to me, means improving the world we live in. I decided to work in the power industry because power generation is a key factor enabling society's development. I wanted my professional life to revolve around that. Also, with the increasing cost of living and climate change, generating power safely, efficiently, and sustainably is so important.

What drives your commitment to mentoring and promoting gender balance in the nuclear industry?

One of my realized strengths is legacy, which allows my work to positively impact future generations. This motivates me to achieve the best outcomes for our clients and society. I also find fulfillment in mentoring others and aiding their development. Similarly, I'm actively involved with Women in Nuclear UK as the vice-regional lead for the Western region. My dedication to enhancing gender balance in the nuclear industry is something that AtkinsRéalis strongly values and supports.

What is your outlook at AtkinsRéalis?

I look forward to developing the C&I community as the Technical Community Chair, enabling the C&I engineers within the organization to thrive. I'm also interested in being exposed to new technical challenges and continuing to learn and develop.

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