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Insights How we shape the future of sustainable nuclear energy

Meet Kate MacDonald, a Senior Engineer at AtkinsRéalis. She started her career with us as a graduate mechanical engineer specializing in nuclear safety cases. Her rapid ascent to her current Reactor Operations and Decommissioning (RO&D) role reflects her exceptional skill and dedication to nuclear safety. Excelling as a safety case author and verifier, Kate swiftly moved through various roles, from line manager to team and group lead. She now skillfully balances leading her team with overseeing technical risk as a technical governance manager's delegate.

Photo of Kate smiling towards the camera

Kate, in your journey as a mechanical engineer, how has your role as group lead in RO&D stretched your capabilities and brought you satisfaction?

My most recent challenging opportunity is taking on the role of group lead for a multi-location team. I have really enjoyed getting to know my new team members in the Sheffield office, who do different types of technical work for different clients. This year, I have also authored my most complex safety case for an area of safety for our client that could lead to significant risk if not executed correctly. This means that it attracts greater scrutiny from internal and external regulators. This led to working with more stakeholders to develop a good strategy and case to meet the client's needs.

How does the diversity of nuclear engineering projects at AtkinsRéalis enhance your professional growth?

I enjoy the variety of projects available to me within my technical capability. I like knowing we work across different workstreams for varying clients and technologies. This means it is possible to work for more than one client at a time and gain a lot of different experiences while holding the same role and working in the same team.

How does AtkinsRéalis support your work-life balance with flexible working and part-time hours?

I also appreciate that I can work flexibly, and I chose to work part-time hours, but this has no impact on the scope of my work and responsibilities. I am trusted to take on the right workload and work diet. This means I also have plenty of time with my family and to do the things that are important to me every day, such as picking up my daughter from school.

Photo of Kate with her child

In what ways does AtkinsRéalis foster a supportive culture for women in leadership roles?

The people I work with are one of the best things about my job. I value the supportive, friendly, and professional atmosphere at work. I have found that everyone at AtkinsRéalis upholds the company values and is a pleasure to work with. Culture is particularly important to us at AtkinsRéalis. I have recently completed a two-day program on leading culture. I have gained personal insight and seen actions according to themes being developed across our business unit.

How does your role in nuclear engineering contribute to AtkinsRéalis' commitment to sustainability?

I think nuclear energy is a vital part of energy generation for the foreseeable future until renewable energy has developed sufficiently to meet all our power generation requirements. I am happy to work in a field related to nuclear safety because I get to see first-hand how potentially high-consequence risks are managed and how safety is prioritized while providing sustainable solutions. I work on the safety of the current fleet of nuclear power stations generating electricity today and for the next decade or so to come. This is important to me now as it was when choosing an industry and company to work for.

What is your outlook at AtkinsRéalis?

I am looking forward to furthering my career and development. My new role and the teams I work with make this a great place to work, and I look forward to progressing my technical work and line management skills.

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