Head of Systems Engineering (10215)

At the SKAO we are coordinating a global effort to deliver one of the largest science facilities on the planet. The SKAO telescopes will be next-generation instruments that will help to answer key questions in astrophysics, drive technological innovation and support human capital development. 

More than a dozen partner countries and over a thousand scientists and engineers around the world are already on board, making the SKA project an international collaboration like no other, and one of the most ambitious science and engineering endeavours of the 21st century.

Headquartered in the UK, with telescope sites in Australia and South Africa, the SKAO will be one observatory operating two telescopes, an endeavour spanning three continents. Multinational by design, in early 2021 the SKAO became an intergovernmental organisation, one of only a select handful of science infrastructures to do so worldwide.

Our Global HQ is located near the buzzing city of Manchester at the historic Jodrell Bank Observatory, a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Cheshire countryside. It is home to a rapidly expanding international team of more than a hundred, working in a highly collaborative and inclusive way, in coordination with SKAO teams in Australia and South Africa as part of a global astronomy and engineering community.

Being part of Team SKA means contributing to something extraordinary: a uniquely exciting project to advance human knowledge that will last for decades. In return, we offer a diverse multicultural working environment, 30 days annual leave plus public holidays, a generous pension scheme, visa and support with relocation (if applicable), regular social events, a family-friendly environment and much more. Come and join us!

Head of Systems Engineering

An amazing opportunity for an experienced Senior Systems Engineer to join an international organisation and contribute to the delivery of one of the largest science facilities on the planet.

Job Location
Cheshire, UK (Head Office)
Area / Department
Contract Type
GBP 70,000 - 80,000 depending on experience, with excellent benefits
Closing Date
Ref No

The Role

The Head of Systems Engineering will join the SKA Telescope Engineering Team, will manage the Systems Engineering Group, and will be a member of the Programme Directorate Team. They will work closely with other engineers, project managers and/or domain specialists. Individual post holders will be the custodians of system engineering processes for the SKA project and for the entire Observatory.

The Head of Systems Engineering will report to the SKAO Head of Engineering and will also act as Head of Engineering Deputy.

SKAO is committed to providing a flexible working environment meeting the requests of our Colleagues whilst also fulfilling the needs and objectives of the Observatory. We encourage open conversations during the interview and application process in relation to any specific requirements, and later with line managers to assess individual flexible working arrangements alongside the needs of the organisation and responsibilities and accountabilities of the specific role and team. There may be occasions where this role requires the post holder to work across different time zones and, in line with SKAO policy, flexible working hours will be supported in agreement with the line manager.

Key Responsibilities, Accountabilities and Duties

  • Provide leadership, guidance, mentoring and training of the System Engineering discipline and methods across the SKA project and the organisation.
  • Establish and agree clear quality standards for the systems engineering processes, and in particular being custodian of the system requirement management process.
  • Develop, manage and motivate the Systems Engineering Group in the HQ and in host countries (currently a team of six).
  • Act as an official representative of SKAO at international events and to external partners to enable continued collaboration and to support the reputation of SKAO.
  • Participate in project reviews from a general System Engineering perspective.
  • Influence senior internal and external stakeholders to ensure alignment and effective delivery of key engineering activities in line with the strategic objectives.
  • Act as Head of Engineering Deputy as and when required.
  • Undertake other reasonable duties as directed by the Head of Engineering.
  • Occasional travel nationally and internationally (typically for up to one week, 2-3 per year).

Mandatory Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • University degree in Physics or Engineering, another closely related and relevant field, or equivalent experience.
  • Substantial experience in system engineering of high technology systems, such as large observatories, space systems, telecommunications networks, nuclear power plants, etc.
  • Ability to communicate the organisation's vision and strategy to diverse audiences, enabling a motivated workforce and helping to create an effective and collaborative working culture.
  • Experience in managing a geographically distributed team.
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills with the ability to identify fundamental issues in complex situations.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills in English, with the ability to represent SKAO at international and other forums.
  • Be a flexible team player who is adaptable to change and able to build working relationships with a multicultural employee population.
  • Ability and willingness to travel nationally and internationally as required.

Desirable Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • Membership of, or eligibility for membership of, recognised national or international system engineering institutes.
  • Experience with requirement management (e.g JAMA).
  • Experience in integration of complex systems and MBSE.
  • Technical knowledge of radio astronomy instruments and techniques.

Equality Diversity and Inclusion Statement

SKA Observatory recognises that our diversity is a strength. We aim to create a welcoming and inclusive environment where everyone feels they belong, and diverse perspectives and ideas thrive. As such, Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion are at the core of SKA Observatory’s agenda.

Our aim is to recruit and retain the most talented individuals, regardless of gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, nationality or background.

Women have traditionally been under-represented in the fields of science and engineering; SKA Observatory welcomes and encourages female applicants. 

Where applicants with a disability need facilities or adjustments to enable them to participate in the recruitment process, these will be provided.

SKA Observatory welcome all candidates, especially those from member countries.

The “How to Apply” information contained within the SKA Observatory recruitment portal provides more detail regarding our application and selection approach.