First Women have the last word—with Jean Llewellyn, NSAN

First Women have the last word—with Jean Llewellyn, NSAN

Discover what makes Jean Llewellyn, CEO of the National Skills Academy for Nuclear, tick.


The professional woman I most admire is Dame Sue Ion. She is a first rate scientist and engineer, and she succeeded in the male-dominated nuclear industry, becoming the executive director of Technology at BNFL in 1992 – 2006.

She continues to advise Government on nuclear science and technology and does a huge amount of work to inspire young women to pursue a career in the sector.  

To juggle my work and life balance I ensure I go mountaineering and cycling at the weekends to recharge my batteries. I also take proper holidays with my family with a complete break from work, trusting my senior management team to successfully manage the business whilst I am away.

My biggest career break was being asked to apply for the position as first CEO of the National Skills Academy for Nuclear.

The biggest influence on my career were my parents, who both had total belief in my abilities. My father especially as he gave me the confidence to always believe I could do as well as anyone else be they male or female.

For a man of his generation (born 1913) to encourage his daughter to pursue her career and aspire to be a future leader was inspirational.

One thing that makes me mad in business today is bad manners and laziness. I can’t abide the fact that people don’t bother to reply to emails and letters, especially those from young people applying for jobs.

It takes no time at all to send a polite “sorry we have no opportunities for you at this time” and yet many, many companies completely ignore these young people’s letters and emails re career opportunities. It must be so demotivating for them.

Are boardroom quotas necessary or nuts?

Perhaps needed in the short term, but hopefully, we’ll soon get to the position where they are no longer needed as women will have had the opportunity to demonstrate the value they bring to Boards.

My one tip on negotiating a pay rise is confidence and honesty

In five years I see myself as a non-executive director on a couple of boards, having moved on from full-time employment.

My number one piece of advice to young women starting their careers is believe in yourself and work hard, treating everyone as you would wish to be treated

My favourite wind down activity is mountaineering.

The last book I read was Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy.

The one thing I can’t live without is my family.


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