Making a Bold Career Change | How One Woman Swapped Languages For Nuclear Reactors

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by Rebekah Valero-Lee on



Making a bold career change can seem daunting, but Kim Vignitchouk is part of a growing trend of people who are turning their back on established careers in order to pursue a lifelong passion within a completely new industry.

More than 10 years ago Kim made the move from linguistics and translation into the nuclear renaissance. Having lived and worked in China from 1988 – 1997 and fluent in Mandarin, it was time to pursue a career change and explore her real interest and passion, science, to which Kim then began studying a Physics degree at the Open University.

Kim explains: “I always dreamed of one day becoming a scientist and I loved Physics at school. Unfortunately it was a career path that my parents weren’t keen on and they pushed me in the opposite direction.

“After a successful career in linguistics and translation, I just thought enough was enough. Enrolling with the Open University helped me to connect back with everything that I loved when I was younger. I never dreamed at that point that I’d be able to build a new career and instead, was gaining a Physics degree just for me.”

Now a contractor for Horizon Nuclear Power, Kim is part of a team in the UK and Japan helping to drive forward the new £10bn power station, comprising two nuclear reactors, at Wylfa Newydd in Anglesey. Adjacent to the former Magnox Wylfa Power Station, which is currently being decommissioned, the new nuclear power station will employ around 9,000 people at the peak of construction and once complete, generate around 2,700 megawatts of electricity – enough to power around five million homes.

Having further upskilled her nuclear knowledge with a masters in Radiation and Environmental Protection, Kim is now working as an RP (radiation protection) engineer, where a typical day includes researching, reviewing and writing technical documents, answering technical queries and liaising with other engineers and contractors across civil, mechanical and chemical specialisms.

Kim explains: “It’s our job to make sure that the nuclear power plant is being designed and built to UK and international standards so that it’s fully compliant and safe for people and the environment.

“Nuclear is such an exciting and rewarding sector to work in, but there’s still a big misunderstanding in what a nuclear power plant actually does. The link between civil and military nuclear programmes also should be better managed as many people wrongly think they are one and the same.

“There always seem to be a negative portrayal of nuclear power plants from the media as well, which leads to a negative public perception. Instead, we should be more transparent in showcasing what exciting careers the nuclear industry has to offer.”

Kim has never struggled to find a role, even after previously being made redundant. Within the nuclear industry, there is no lack of exciting opportunities. New build programmes deliver a spectrum of roles across engineering, chemistry, environment and physics, which are also highly relevant for the decommissioning and maintenance of nuclear sites. Kim’s specific skillset in radiation and environmental protection is in huge demand across a number of sectors and careers, including medical, radiography and isotope generation for cancer care, which meant that she had already received a job offer before completing her masters.

Kim continues: “Gaining my degree and masters were both career highlights as it completely changed my career direction and led me to where I am today.

“I’m a firm believer in that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Juggling a freelance interpreter career with my studies at the Open University wasn’t without its challenges and even at this time, my parents were still asking me when was I going to concentrate on a full-time job? Unfortunately they both passed away before I graduated, but they would have been so proud in where I am today.

“My advice to anyone regardless of their age or gender is to pursue your passion, do what you want to do and don’t listen to anyone else.

“Nuclear is a pretty hardcore industry but there are so many exciting pathways that can lead you to a very rewarding career, including apprenticeships and the university route. All you need to succeed is to work hard and be passionate about what you do.”

Are you looking for a career change? Search hundreds of jobs here, or to learn more about adult apprenticeships with our training division visit www.morson.com/mvt.


Cx Jobs

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Are you an experienced Project Manager? Do you want to work for a company that is demonstrating sustained periods of growth, as well as having a solid order book of more work to come? Do you want to work for a company that offers autonomy, along with the freedom to develop in your career? Then Vital want to speak to you.Vital resources are currently working with a reputable and well established Civils and Groundworks contractor to assist them in their search for a new Project Manager. Our client is looking for someone who can demonstrate a background in Civils and Infrastructure projectsAs an experienced Manager your responsibilities will include but are not limited to:Daily management of various civil projects within the portfolio of workLeading successful contract delivery, ensuring the site team are fully appraised of the contract parametersInvolvement of projects at all stages from Pre-Qualifying and tendering through to completionEnsuring contracts are executed in accordance with client requirementThe successful applicant for this role will be able to demonstrate:Background in a similar positionPrevious experience working within groundworks, deep drainage and, cut & fill works.Degree educated (or similar)Full UK Licence as travel to sites will be requiredAbility to work alone with minimal supervisionFor this our client is willing to offer a competitive salary along with a comprehensive package.If you would like more information, please apply or contact Jamie Nicholson using the below details

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Morson have an exciting vacancy for a Project Manager based in Yeovil for one of our Aerospace Clients. Job DescriptionThe Project Manager is responsible for the successful delivery of the defined Project with authority and responsibility from the Programme Manager to run the project on a day-to-day basis.Key Job Accountabilities Include:The project manager is responsible for leading and managing the project team with responsibility and authority from the Programme Manager or Sponsor on a day-to-day basis. Delivering the project to schedule, cost and quality.Interfacing between the project and functional business areas to achieve the overall Project deliverables. Demonstrate good communication and encouragement across functional business areas, for change.Effective co-ordination of the project and the inter dependencies into the overall Programme or as an independent small project, including resolution or mitigation of any risks and issues arising during the project. Supported by the Programme Management office.Ensuring all activities are carried out in accordance with policies, and processes.Ensuring delivery of contract life cycle relevant to accountable project.Managing and production of the required deliverables proactively monitoring its progress, resolving issues and initiating appropriate corrective action to achieve quality and schedule within budget.Planning, designing and monitoring the project, preparing any project plans as required. Please contact us for more information.

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Our Client is developing a virtual aircraft maintenance trainer at its Dalgety Bay facility in Fife. The software solution exploits an existing in-house product capability called VoRTEX (Virtual Reality Training Executive). The VoRTEX core software provides the virtual environment, state store and rule set that govern how the user interacts with the platform virtual model. To run with the VoRTEX core, the project is creating the specific behaviour and 3D visual models for the relevant aircraft systems.The role will primarily focus on creating real-time textured 3D objects to be incorporated into a highly detailed aircraft with opening panels and removable parts. The source data will usually comprise very high polygon count CAD files that need to be optimised then textured. This will mostly be done manually because automated tools usually create unacceptable artefacts. Some objects will be created from photographs and measurements only. Applicants with full-time experience creating 3D assets for games or military simulators will have an advantage. The applicant should provide a portfolio or examples of work. Skills (essential):3D Modelling and texturing/shading of real time assets based on real world reference materials;Ensuring that all models produced are optimised for performance, taking into consideration the limitations of the target system;Ability to work in a team setting, working to deadlines and time constraints. Skills (desirable):Understanding of baking textures, generating specular / normal maps and physically based shading;Pro-actively contributes to improvement of production pipeline;General knowledge of rigging, lighting, animation and rendering techniques;Can develop MEL / Maxscript tools;Traditional art drawing skills;Knowledge and experience of using JIRA for task management. Tools (essential):3D Modelling - Autodesk Maya preferred, also 3DS Max (pure CAD software experience is unsuitable);Texturing - Adobe Photoshop CC expertise. Tools (desirable):Texturing - 3D painting software experience is useful;Game Engine - Unity 3D preferred, also Unreal Engine.

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Are you an experienced Site Manager? Do you want to work for a company that is demonstrating sustained periods of growth, as well as having a solid order book of more work to come? Do you want to work for a company that offers autonomy, along with the freedom to develop in your career? Then Vital want to speak to you.Vital resources are currently working with a reputable and well established multi-disciplined contractor to assist them in their search for a new Site Manager. Our client is looking for someone who can demonstrate a background in Rail, Water, Civils, or Infrastructure projectsAs an experienced Manager your responsibilities will include but are not limited to:Daily management of groundworks packages in the central Belt of ScotlandOrganise and Purchase on Site Labour, Materials, and PlantLiaise with the commercial teams and other operational teams to ensure projects are delivered in a timely, and cost effective manner.Organise and Chair meetings with clients and senior management.The successful applicant for this role will be able to demonstrate:Background in a similar positionPrevious experience working within groundworks, deep drainage and, cut & fill works.Experience working as a subcontractor is preferred, but not essentialSMSTS CertifiedFull UK Licence as travel to sites will be requiredAbility to work alone with minimal supervisionFor this our client is willing to offer a competitve salary, along with a comprehensive package.For more information, please contact Jamie Nicholson using the details provided, or click the apply now link.

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