Michael Coleman

Posted on Wednesday 7th August 2013

PhD Theoretical Neutron Physics (1971); MSc course and Prize Reactor Physics (1969); BSc Physics (1968)

It can all come good if you play your cards right.

For 15 months I have been a Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham lecturing on Numerical Analysis to Master course students and doing research. Afterwards I joined CEGB in the Reactor Physics Department workingmy way up to the position of Assistant Reactor Physicist at Sizewell A Power station. Following that, I moved to Bradwell Power Station as Technical Branch Head and gained the station its Continued Operation Licence, enabling it to operate to 40 years - the first station to do so. It consisted of  all the engineering modifications, including the installation of a diverse guardline, and remote pressure vessel inspection - both world firsts. All done in double quick time!

I made a change to Facilities Management for about a year, before being appointed to Headquarters to work on Business Process Redesign and Change Management. Afterwards I worked on the initial stages of the Sizewell A boiler repair ( major rewelding of seriously defective boiler shell) before being head hunted back to Bradwell to 'change its culture'. This was a 2-year-appointment and at the end I took early retirement at the age of 51 in 1999. this has been followed by 5 years consultancy for the industry. After that I spent a lot of time being involved in charity work and chaired the Suffolk Preservation Society where I met and hosted the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall in the first month, the Queen a year later, and all down hill from there on! Not really!

I led a revolution in the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and set up a County Branch Chairman's Forum which started out as a lobby group seeking change and has morphed into a valuable sounding board for the main CPRE Board which now all counties in England attend. Currently, I am its Vice Chairnman having been ithe first ever Chairman. I am also now on a two year stint on the Nominations committee of the CPRE and will be interviewing potential board members tomorrow. So no longer the outcast! It can all come good if you play your cards right.

What is the best thing about what you are doing now?
I can indulge the fruits of a lifetime of hard work which I really enjoyed and now enjoy the new life I have created.

What was the best thing about your time as a PhD student here?
The proximity of Edgbaston and the wealth of cheap municipal golf courses at the time, as well as the social life.

In what way did living and studying in Birmingham live up to your expectations?
I had no preconceived expectations so everything was a bonus! I struck lucky in lodgings and armed with the aim below surprised myself academically and made lifelong friends.

What advice would you give to current PhD students?
Aim for the top - it means you could progress to the very top