Nuclear Finance – Separating the facts from the fission

Simon talks us through his Finance Graduate scheme

Simon White

After a fulfilling and fascinating insight into using finance in my first year on the graduate scheme at Centrica, it was time to build on this foundation and begin my second year away from British Gas and into the 5-strong Nuclear team in Centrica Energy. We are responsible for managing the 20% stake that we have with EDF Energy Nuclear Generation's nuclear fleet that we acquired in 2009 for £2.3bn and to provide insightful understanding, analysis and forecasting for the Nuclear business.

The first three months were testing - juggling work, study and social life to the limit. It was a steep learning curve shifting from a cost to a margin focused role and the subsequent step-up in responsibility building on the skill set established from the first year role. Within the first month of joining the team, I was fortunate enough to attend the award-winning Generation Safe workshop. Not only did it highlight safety as the focal point that underpins what is done in Centrica Energy, it opened the door to open and honest conversations around safety that are paramount to how the business operates. The role also offered unique opportunities such as presenting to senior stakeholders, managing joint venture relationships and applying many of the learnings from the accountancy qualification that I am studying in conjunction with working at Centrica on the finance graduate scheme.

This presents its own challenge time-managing attending college twice a week after work and on Saturdays as well as applying the learnings in the workplace. However, it creates both a rewarding experience with the satisfaction of using the skills learnt in college in real-world examples as well as an aspirational target to complete the qualification. One of the avenues of support offered at Centrica is a personal study councillor who is on hand to offer advice and guidance from their experience, and ultimately, sign off relevant materials in order to complete the training file.

2013 was a great year for the Nuclear team both in terms of safety and generation. The nuclear fleet achieved zero nuclear reportable events for the first time and generating 60.5TWh was the highest for nearly a decade. The subsequent financial impact was also significant in the context of the challenges of the energy industry during the year. The year ahead holds some exciting opportunities - visits to nuclear power stations, attending the Big Bang science fair in Birmingham and being an integral part of financial planning and forecasting with the prospect of implementing process improvement to name but a few.

It is a testament to the finance graduate scheme at Centrica for there to be such opportunities to work in a world-class team with members at the top of their game as we strive to meet the challenge of working in such a dynamic and evolving industry.