Head of Engineering Performance (10137)

At the SKAO we are coordinating a global effort to deliver one fo 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, regular social events, a family-friendly environment and much more. Come and join us!

Head of Engineering Performance

A unique opportunity for an experienced professional in engineering operations in the context of an astronomical observatory.

Job Location
UK (Head Office)
Area / Department
Telescope Operations
Contract Type
Competitive salary with generous pension, healthcare and leave benefits
Closing Date
Ref No

The Role

The first phase of the SKA Observatory is scheduled to become fully operational in 2028/29. The operations plan for the SKA Observatory has been developed and is presented in the Observatory Establishment and Delivery Plan, endorsed by the SKA Council at its inaugural meeting in January 2021.The Head of Engineering Performance will be responsible for leading the effort to develop and implement systems for monitoring and evaluating the engineering performance of the two SKA telescopes, in Australia and South Africa, from receptor dishes and stations through the signal chain and into the science data processor. They will provide oversight and monitoring of the underlying services and systems that impact the performance of the SKA telescopes and will identify, develop and implement frameworks and standards to maximise that performance within available resourcing. They will lead the effort to define Rules and Procedures for engineering operations and maintenance of the SKA telescopes and will work closely with operations colleagues at the SKA telescopes to achieve this. The Head of Engineering Performance will also need to work closely with colleagues in the SKA Programmes group (responsible for the construction and commissioning of the SKA telescopes).

The Head of Engineering Performance will be responsible for managing and directing the work of the Engineering Performance team within the Operations group and to deliver the objectives of the group. The appointee will be an individual experienced with the wide span of observatory operations, with specific proficiency of engineering operations in the context of an astronomical observatory.

Flexible working arrangements are possible in agreement with the Line Manager to ensure contributions to telescope delivery are not impacted.

Key Responsibilities, Accountabilities and Duties

  • Lead, manage and develop the Engineering Performance group.
  • Lead the roadmap development for the tools, processes and techniques that will be required for the oversight and management of engineering performance of the Observatory.
  • Work as a senior member of the Operations group to represent engineering performance issues, promote and encourage best engineering practices across both SKA telescopes and ensure the commonality in engineering practice across the Observatory wherever practical.
  • Work closely with the SKA-Low and SKA-Mid Engineering Managers in all aspects of Engineering Operations and Performance across the Observatory, ensuring a common approach and seeking to maximise performance and efficiency.
  • Document the results of investigations, planning and implementation of all aspects of engineering operations, providing updates and reports as necessary.
  • Ownership of observatory-wide Standard Operating Procedures for engineering and maintenance activities.
  • Engage with important internal and external stakeholders, as required.
  • Keep the Director and Deputy Director of Operations appraised of any new or recent developments in domains that may impact the performance of the SKA telescopes.
  • Occasional travel nationally and internationally, as required, to fulfil these duties (usually for one week, 3-4 times per year).
  • Undertake any other reasonable duties as directed.

Mandatory Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • A degree in a relevant field of engineering (such as Mechanical, Electronics or Electrical) or equivalent experience.
  • Substantial record of successful oversight and management of the engineering operations of a complex and multifaceted facility of significant scale.
  • Proven experience of a distributed operational environment.
  • Demonstrated ability to influence people in widely differing parts of a complex organisation.
  • Experience in the identification and development of efficient engineering operations and maintenance procedures. 
  • Demonstrable record of successful delivery of long-term monitoring of engineering performance, tracking of metrics, and of driving significant performance improvements.
  • Experience of automated condition monitoring, self-test, configuration management and maintenance management systems.
  • A record of successful line management.
  • Strong ability to work with staff and teams from diverse cultural backgrounds.
  • Excellent English verbal and written communication skills including experience of presenting work verbally at meetings and other fora.
  • Be a flexible team player who is adaptable to change.
  • Ability and willingness to travel nationally and internationally as required (usually for one week, 3-4 times per year).

Desirable Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • Experience with engineering operations of a high-technology and/or scientific facility.
  • Familiarity with radio astronomy engineering and operations or closely allied activities.
  • A record of oversight of engineering and/or engineering-related software development projects.
  • Experience of overseeing and/or implementing technology/engineering upgrade projects in a research infrastructure or related context.

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.