Meet the team: Tamer Al-Bishawi
Tamer is our Commissioning Director and one of our Executive Team. He joined the project in 2022, but began his nuclear journey 20 years ago as a reactor operator. After accelerating through the ranks with our existing fleet, he became Station Director at Torness power station in 2020. “Only this job could tempt me to leave my role as Station Director,” he says. “Hinkley Point C is a very special project.”
Read time: 3 mins
Why is Hinkley Point C such a special place to work?
A. Hinkley Point C is the biggest, most exciting project in the world. I really believe that; otherwise I wouldn’t have left Scotland and relocated here with my family.
It’s the first of its kind and it’s going to pave the way for the nuclear strategy in the UK, as a minimum. That was my main motivator for coming here. It’s a very special place and there’s nothing else quite like it. I can’t think of any other project that breaks a new record every few weeks.
What makes Hinkley Point C stand out from a commissioning point of view?
A. The scope of it is incredible. I don’t mean just in terms of having more components to deal with or that we’re dealing with some components we’ve never had before. But also that we’re working on a three-year commissioning programme. This makes it completely different to anywhere else.
What do you like about the vision and values at Hinkley Point C?
A. I like to have clarity on where we’re going as a business, but also to have autonomy to influence the direction – and I definitely get that in this role. The other thing that’s really different about Hinkley Point C compared to any other organisation is that you can think outside the box. In fact, it’s more than allowed, it’s encouraged. And it’s really freeing to be able to change processes, especially working on the generation side of the business, which is more established, for many years.
What’s the culture like?
A. There’s a very adaptable and agile culture here. In commissioning and pre-ops, we have a fairly young team and you can see that energy, IT literacy, and innovation around you. It feels very dynamic. People are very happy to be here; they enjoy the work and there’s a really positive environment.
Is Hinkley Point C a diverse and inclusive place to work?
A. It’s very diverse: we have people here from different generations, experiences and cultural backgrounds, and that makes it a rich place to work.
It’s also more inclusive than anywhere I’ve ever worked before – but we recognise we’ve got more to do. So we’re actively managing how we recruit and engage people – and how we create the environment where people feel they can be themselves.
What’s been your nuclear journey?
A. I’ve moved around. I started my nuclear journey 20 years ago in a power station in Scotland, as a reactor operator. I then moved to some of EDF’s fleet in England: Heysham and Sizewell B. Before moving back to Scotland and Torness, where I’ve spent most of my career.
Is it different working in new nuclear after a career in generation?
A. It’s completely different – and it’s a lot more complex. In operating plants there’s a simpler organisational structure, as you’re already up and running. It’s more complex in a new nuclear site. But it helps that I know what it’s like to operate a power station, so I know our end goal and the sequence of things we need to do to get there.
What was it like relocating to the South West?
A. I moved by myself initially for a few months, while my children finished school. My family then moved down in the summer, and we settled in Bristol. I work in Aztec House or on site, and my wife is setting up her new business in the city. Both the children are in school and we’re getting to know the area. We miss Edinburgh – we have family still there and it’s so familiar, I know every street. But we like it in Bristol and it has lots to offer.
What kind of qualities do you look for in candidates applying for commissioning and pre-ops?
A. The number one priority is being willing to learn and adapt. You have to remember: we’ve never commissioned this type of reactor before. So they need to be able to think beyond themselves and be a solutions-driven person. It doesn’t work to expect solutions to come to you or to do things the traditional way just because we’ve always done it like that. People who think creatively do very well at Hinkley Point C.
How do you see your time working at Hinkley Point C fitting on your CV?
A. I can’t imagine what else you could put on your CV that could trump Hinkley Point C. It’s the biggest construction project in the UK. It’s got pretty much every nationality working here. And it’s breaking records all the time. We all know it can be challenging at times, but if you can deliver at Hinkley Point C, you can pretty much deliver anything.
What would you like to do once Hinkley Point C is built?
I would like to continue my journey here and move into the operational side. The skillset you need to lead and deliver is the same whether you’re in commissioning or operation. So the big selling point for me of working in pre-ops is that I’m in it for the long haul: I don’t plan to move again.