LOOKING back on his career, Professor Graham Wren OBE is amazed at how he got to where he is today.

“I can’t really believe I am here, I am expecting someone to wake me up from a dream,” he said.

However, for many, the disbelief is more from how he has managed to find time to fit in the dizzying number of jobs, board memberships, advisory roles and academic positions which cram his CV.

During his busy career, Graham has worked across myriad sectors, making his mark in the UK and beyond. But it all began in Workington when he joined the steelworks as an apprentice in 1976.

“My parents didn’t have a huge amount of money but they were very good people, providing a loving and safe family environment to grow up in. They understood that education was good for you and encouraged me and my older siblings to go to school and do our homework,” said Graham.

“My father passed the 11-plus but couldn’t go to grammar school because his family needed income from him leaving school at 14.

"That stuck with me because later in life I realised what a sacrifice that was.”

Graham’s apprenticeship enabled him to study at night school in Workington and Whitehaven, where he gained the qualifications to study mechanical engineering at Newcastle University.

He graduated in 1985 and returned to Cumbria to work for the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) at Sellafield.

He also undertook secondments for the UK government, collaborating with international partners to reduce the costs of nuclear decommissioning. Another secondment saw him working for the government in the USA.

From 1998 to 2002 he was director for Forensic Alliance, which grew out of the UKAEA, and which worked with police forces to provide forensic services. Yet another venture followed in 2002 when he moved to Scotland to set up the Glengarnock Technology Centre for AEA Technology.

These are just a few examples of the businesses Graham has been involved in during his career.

Since 2008, he has been senior executive and special advisor to the principal (Professor Sir Jim McDonald) at the University of Strathclyde. He is still heavily involved in ventures across the country and the world, and closer to home he has been working with the University of Cumbria to help build technical programmes with Strathclyde University, BAE Systems and Sellafield Ltd.