Meet the team: Senga Lebo
Ever wondered what wine has in common with the equipment in a nuclear power station? As our Supply Chain Logistics Manager, Senga Lebo, will tell you, they both need to be transported safely from A to B and stored in the right conditions to avoid damage. He’s the former Logistics Director for a wine company and switched from working with grapes to generators when he joined the project in October 2020.
Read time: 5 mins
What’s your role on the Hinkley Point C project?
A. My role is a bit of a hybrid one: I’m a Project Manager who manages the supply chain aspects of the conventional island programme deliveries – essentially all the machinery within the turbine building, which is being supplied by GE. Once the equipment is ready to leave the manufacturing facility, it’s up to me to manage the arrangements to get it from there to Hinkley Point C, and then to make sure it’s stored securely and safely.
In an ideal world, the equipment would roll off the production line and go straight to site for installation. But due to the tight schedules on site and the limited space for storing equipment here, we need to store some of the equipment in one of four off-site storage facilities for a short period until it’s ready for installation. We’re responsible for maintaining and preserving the equipment during the storage period so much of my time is spent either liaising with manufacturers or checking in on the equipment in storage.
What’s been your journey to Hinkley Point C?
A. My background is non-nuclear – although I’ve always worked in logistics. In my last job, I worked for a wine company and would oversee the transportation of wine in crates around the world or as liquid from countries like Australia and New Zealand to our bottling facility in Bristol. The company was large and internationally recognised, so the contracts were big. But the value of the GE contract I manage now at Hinkley Point C is huge!
It's the same with the processes. I’ve always had to adhere to some standard regulations and governance. But the regulations in nuclear are obviously a lot stricter than any industry I’ve worked in before.
What attracted you to working here?
A. I’ve always had an interest in nuclear energy. I studied mechanical engineering and being a local in Bristol – or at least local to the Southwest – I’ve always been interested in Hinkley Point C and wanted to work here.
EDF’s Net Zero mission sits close to my heart. My father was an engineer in the oil and gas industry and although I knew I wanted to follow in his engineering footsteps, I didn’t want to work in the same industry. I want to create a good future for my family and build a cleaner environment.
It’s been a case of biding my time and waiting for the right opportunity. I subscribed to the HPC Jobs Service and received regular updates. And it was through this I saw the opening for an Assistant Project Manager on the GE contract.
Coming from a completely non-nuclear background, the first six months of the job were challenging, to say the least! But I’ve worked hard and been promoted to Project Manager, and now Project Manager with responsibility for supply chain logistics too.
What’s the culture like at Hinkley Point C?
A. It’s the polar opposite of where I worked before – and that’s a good thing! There’s a real sense of togetherness here. Everyone understands what we’re trying to achieve and there’s definitely more collaboration.
I went on site for the first time in June and it really made me think, ‘Wow, I’m part of this.’ There’s almost a family feeling that we’re all working together to build the first power station in a generation. This gives me a huge sense of pride and fulfilment in the work I do.
The structure doesn’t feel very hierarchical – it’s the sort of place where you’re encouraged to speak up and have a challenging mindset. The pace can be very intense as we have different milestone achievements to meet. But it’s balanced by the need to follow processes and ensure the quality and safety of everything we do.
Is it a diverse and inclusive place to work?
A. Yes, definitely. When I first joined it was during Covid and people weren’t really coming into the office. But as restrictions eased and more people returned to work, I realised how inclusive it actually is here. We have multiple different nationalities and people from all corners of the world working at Hinkley Point C.
It stood out to me as sometimes I’ve felt a bit alone in previous companies; I’ve not always felt like I fitted in. But what EDF and Hinkley Point C have done to create an inclusive workplace is industry-leading.
It’s also about diversity of thought. Despite my non-nuclear background, I’m as welcome here as anyone else. So even if you don't have prior knowledge or experience of the industry, you’ll be considered for a role at Hinkley Point C if you can do the job and have the right skills.
What do you like about the working environment?
A. Work-life balance is really important to me, so a big positive of the project is Hinkley Point C’s blended approach to working, and the freedom I’m given to choose where I want to work and when.
I’m based out of the Hinkley Point C satellite office in Bridgwater, but there’s no expectation that I need to be here 9-5, Monday to Friday, every week. Instead, I spread my time between here, the different warehouses we have and home.
Having that control over my time is so important to me. I have a young family and Covid made me appreciate how important it is to spend time with my loved ones. So not having a lengthy commute every day or being away from home for long stretches of time means a lot.
What gives you satisfaction in your role?
A. My favourite part of my job is seeing the final product. It might sound weird when you're talking about equipment that's going to end up embedded in concrete! So I like to get out and see the equipment either when it's in final stages of manufacture or when it's being received at one of our storage facilities.
I also get satisfaction from transporting equipment from A to B and storing it safely without any issues or challenges. Knowing that I’ve done my part to help build Hinkley Point C gives me great satisfaction.
How do you see your time at Hinkley Point C fitting on your CV?
A. Being involved in building the first nuclear power station in a generation will naturally stand out on my CV. It’s a massive project to be involved in and there are so many complexities involved that it’ll definitely help with my career progression.
Have you thought about next steps?
A. I would like to stay in nuclear once Hinkley Point C is built and work my way up the ladder. This would be the next logical step and I’ve also got the taste for it now! I’ve started to think more about Sizewell C but I need to complete my work on this project first.
Would you recommend working at Hinkley Point C?
A. Absolutely. One thing I didn’t realise before I joined the project – and which you don’t see as an outsider – is the huge growth potential of being here. There are so many opportunities to grow and branch into different areas. The project is forever evolving and new opportunities come up every day.
I came in as an Assistant Project Manager to get my foot in the door and I’ve had two promotions since then. So my takeaway message for anyone wanting to join the project is that as long as you’ve got the skills and are committed to doing your best, you can come in at a junior level and work your way up. You’ll have that opportunity to do so, and you get fantastic training and mentoring here.