Sally Charlton, Analytical Chemist: “Analytical Services is the heart of analysis at Sellafield”
- June 5, 2023
Name: Sally Charlton
Job Title: Analyst/Liaison Support Officer
How would you summarise the role of an Analyst at Sellafield?
Being an Analyst means you need to be versatile to meet changing demands. It can become quite fast paced with fluctuating levels of challenge at different parts of the year which keeps the role interesting. There is a wide variety of scientific analysis and processes that we undertake but this isn’t where the role stops, you can get involved in all sorts outside of your role.
What was your role prior to joining Sellafield?
Before coming to Sellafield, I was a Secondary School Science Teacher for 4 years.
How did you get into the Technical profession?
After taking Forensic Science at University and learning a wide range of analytical chemistry, teaching seemed like the right way to go at first as I remained in a lab. However, teaching wasn’t challenging in the way I wanted it to be, I felt like I was losing my advanced science knowledge by going back to basics. Getting back into the labs full time has started to fulfil these gaps again.
Joining a new business and industry can be quite daunting, how did you find your first your first twelve months and what training did you receive?
The first few weeks were a little overwhelming as I was getting to grips with the vast processes and knowledge needed to work at Sellafield, however I soon realised I could take it all in at my own pace. The training was extensive, as you can imagine for a nuclear site, but is still ongoing even over a year after being here. Training is never fully complete as you always have new things to learn.
What do you enjoy most about being an Analyst?
The flexibility of the role, so I can get involved in so many groups, this makes every day unique.
How many people are in your Team at Sellafield?
There’s currently 4 including me, in my last team there was 10 of us. The sizes of the teams can vary.
What is the working culture like at Sellafield?
Sellafield encourages personal development in ASCEND (specific to Analytical Services) and My Contribution. You can also get involved in a range of roles, I’m involved in Waste Champions, Business Improvements and Changemakers.
What advice would you give someone who was thinking of applying for this role?
If you want experience in advanced scientific analysis in a unique workplace which is not only interesting and diverse but also flexible, this is the place for you. Be okay with not knowing much about the Sellafield Site, I didn’t when I first started, you are not at a disadvantage because of it.
What does your day-to-day look like?
In the Standards Laboratory, my day starts by double checking our plan for the day and informing our line manager if we have any issues or queries. These are addressed in the morning meeting with our team. We would then begin prepping the lab for the standards we would be making that day; this would entail checks for contamination/radiation, collecting and calibrating our equipment and workspace. Much of the day would involve preparing solutions to be distributed to other laboratories or customers. On the odd day I’d be participating in other tasks such as identifying places for improvements, gathering data from previous improvements to ensure these are still sufficient, collecting historical waste and training.
How does your work contribute to the Sellafield Ltd Mission?
Analytical Services is the heart of analysis at Sellafield, we provide thousands of results to over 100 customers each year which allows site to safely run. During each stage of Sellafield’s lifecycle, we have transformed the analysis to suit what is required and will keep doing so until the ‘clean up’ is completed.
We are currently recruiting for Analytical Chemists within our Technical profession. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, head over to our search and apply page for more details.