Operations Scientist - Telescope Controls and Commissioning/SAFe® Product Mngr (10105)

At SKAO, we’re coordinating a global effort to deliver the largest science facility on the planet. The SKA will be a next-generation radio telescope 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 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, it will be one observatory, operating two telescopes, an endeavour spanning three continents. Multinational by design, SKAO will soon join only a handful of other science infrastructures in becoming an intergovernmental organisation.

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 SKA teams in Australia & South Africa and 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 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

Operations Scientist - Telescope Controls and Commissioning/SAFe® Product Mngr

This role is ideal for a suitably qualified candidate with experience in the development of software for the commissioning, operation and control of astronomical telescopes and their instrumentation, or similar large-scale and complex facilities.

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

The Role

The SKA Science Operations team is seeking to employ a talented and motivated individual to act as a Product Manager to support and guide the software development for the construction of the SKA telescopes. As a large and globally distributed project, the software is being developed by many teams across different time zones from outside of the SKA Observatory.

The appointee will be an expert focal point for the development teams, providing expertise and guidance to those teams in areas of controls, monitoring and commissioning. The role, therefore, calls for an organised individual who understands, or is able to quickly acquire, system knowledge in the area of (radio) astronomy telescopes and their control systems and operation.

To manage the software development of the project, the SKA has adopted the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®) for Lean/Agile development processes. As a Product Manager, the appointee will represent the interests and priorities of the SKA Operations team for the construction and operation of the SKA telescopes. They will be responsible for ensuring that the SAFe teams deliver value to the SKA SAFe programme by specifying and defining the priorities of the work and developing the programme roadmap. As a Product Manager they will have the responsibility for defining and assessing when work is completed and accepting that work into the Programme. As such, the appointee will need to understand software development practices and technology.

Although the appointee will report to the Head of Science Operations, they will spend the majority of their time working closely with the software development SAFe teams, as well as the system science and commissioning teams.

Key Responsibilities, Accountabilities and Duties

Working as a member of the SAFe Product Management team with key internal and external SKA stakeholders, including the Lead Product Manager, Head of Science Operations and the SKA System Scientist, the post holder will:

  • Be a member of the Product Management Team to develop and communicate the roadmap for the SKA Observatory’s software development programme.
  • Define and prioritise the content of the programme backlog.
  • Develop work tasks and features and explain them to the teams.
  • Define acceptance criteria for the work under their ownership and be responsible for accepting the results of the work carried out.
  • Assist with defining telescope commissioning and system integration tasks under the direction of the System Scientist. 
  • Work with the Product Management Team to establish the vision for the SKA Observatory software development programme, and communicate that vision to the teams and stakeholders.
  • Be an expert stakeholder for the teams.
  • Attend Programme Increment (PI) planning meetings (every 3 months) to prioritise and plan future work and report on work carried out.
  • Communicate and work with the teams so that they understand the backlog items, their features, objectives and priorities.
  • Work with stakeholders to understand and define program objectives.

Mandatory Knowledge, Skills and Experience

The post holder will have:

  • A PhD, or equivalent, in Astronomy, Physics, Computer Science or a closely related field, or equivalent experience in a professional scientific operational capacity.
  • Significant experience of software development in a scientific environment preferably in a (radio) astronomy setting, or equivalent.
  • Experience with the operation of (radio) observatories and the software control of and interface with instrumentation, including their monitoring and data acquisition.
  • Able to resolve mutifaceted and complex problems, developing joined up solutions and managing workloads and targets in a dynamic and collaborative environment.
  • Ability to build effective working relationships and influence with engineers and scientists from a variety of cultures.
  • The capability and willingness to work in a team as a flexible, adaptable team player, able to work to deadlines.
  • Excellent communication skills in English, especially with highly specialised project teams, able to translate technical concepts into clear guidance and advice.
  • Willingness to occasionally travel, nationally and internationally.

Desirable Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • Experience in a similar role within a Software Development Project in a Scientific/Astronomical environment.
  • Agile certification (Scaled Agile Program Consultant, BCS Agile Practitioner certification or similar).
  • Project management experience in a software development environment.
  • Experience of leading project teams


Equal Opportunities Statement 

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion are at the core the SKA's agenda and we are committed to being an equal opportunities employer. Our aim to is recruit and retain the most talented individuals, regardless of gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, religion or nationality. 
Women have traditionally been under-represented in the fields of science and engineering; SKA Organisation 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.