Director of Operations

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Thursday, January 31, 2019
Archive Date: 
Thursday, February 28, 2019
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Science Management
Institution Classification/Type: 
Square Kilometre Array Organisation
Jodrell Bank, Macclesfield
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Job Announcement Text: 

Organisation Background

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is a global project to build and operate two multi-purpose radio telescopes that will play a major role in answering key questions in modern astrophysics and cosmology. Twelve governments are now participating in the project, with others engaged in discussions regarding possible membership. The new telescopes and their supporting facilities will be located in South Africa and Australia, with the project’s headquarters in newly expanded, purpose-built premises at Jodrell Bank, Cheshire, UK.

The project is in the final phase of the detailed design of the telescopes and is now beginning preparations for the construction phase. Integral to this phase will be the need to build on the operations planning done to date to finalise the SKA Operations Plan, to recruit the globally distributed operations team and to be intimately involved in the establishment of the SKA Observatory’s overall functional model and organisation.

Negotiations between the governments of SKA member countries to establish the SKA Observatory as an Inter-Governmental Organisation governed by a convention are well advanced; the SKA Observatory is expected to be in place early in 2020.

The Role

The Director of Operations will have the drive and vision to establish and lead the operations of  complex, high-tech, state-of-the art scientific instruments in two remote locations. The successful candidate will report directly to the Director-General and will be responsible for all SKA operations and accountable for their execution. As a member of SKAO’s senior leadership team, the Director of Operations will work closely with the Director-General and other Directors in the development of overall policy and strategic planning across the organisation to ensure the success of the Observatory’s mission. The Director of Operations will be highly visible in the function of the Observatory, interacting continuously with the SKA science and engineering communities and with the governing SKA Board/Council and their external advisory bodies.

Although working initially with a small team based at SKA HQ, the Operations Division will grow rapidly with a strong presence in the two telescope host countries.


Key Duties, Accountabilities and Responsibilities

Under the direction of the SKA Director-General, the post holder will:

  • Provide leadership to the Operations’ Division;
  • Finalise and implement the SKA Operations Plan, building on the extensive planning done to date;
  • Work closely with SKA’s international partners, especially those in the telescope host countries of Australia and South Africa, to ensure the operations plan is efficiently implemented;
  • Oversee the recruitment of the operations team across the SKA’s three host countries;
  • Oversee the delivery of host country assets that meet SKA requirements;
  • Work closely with the SKA Programme Director in the commissioning and early science phase of the telescopes;
  • Oversee all aspects of the operations of the two SKA telescopes, including close interaction with the SKA Regional Centres distributed across the globe;
  • Assume responsibility for the setting of operational priorities and resource planning;
  • Work together with the Director-General and other Directors to develop and implement the SKA’s policies and strategies; and
  • Provide regular information and status reports to the Director General as required.

The duties of the Director of Operations are not limited to the above and a flexible approach and ability to adapt to an evolving situation is required. Periodic travel between the three SKA sites will be required.


Mandatory Knowledge, Skills and Experience

Normally, this position would require a candidate with a PhD in engineering or physical sciences; however, exceptional candidates with a first or post-graduate degree in the same subjects and appropriate experience will be considered.

The Director of Operations will have

  • Experience of senior, executive level management and leadership within a high-technology environment;
  • Extensive experience of operations of large, high-tech facilities;
  • Experience of the transition from construction to operations;
  • Good English oral and written communication skills;
  • Demonstrated ability to build relationships and to work collaboratively in an international setting.


Desirable Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • Experience in the operations of large-scale astronomical facilities;
  • Demonstrated experience in interacting with a broad community of users


For more information on the SKA project visit SKA Organisation offers a competitive salary, a generous company pension scheme and a flexible benefits package. The successful applicant’s workplace will be located at the SKA Office’s headquarters at Jodrell Bank, south of Manchester in the UK.


How to apply

Please send a CV and covering letter, including details of your current remuneration, to, quoting reference DirOps/01. Applications should include a summary of your project experience, detailing how you meet the mandatory and desirable knowledge, skills and experience criteria.

Closing Date for applications: Closing date for receipt of completed applications is 28th February 2019. When applying please state where you saw the vacancy advertised.


Equal Opportunities Statement

SKA Organisation is 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, religion or nationality.


At all stages of the recruitment process and beyond, we strive to treat applicants and employees with a high standard of care, honesty and politeness.


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. If you need equipment or adjustments to enable you to complete your application and/or attend an interview, then please let us know.

Pay Compensation
Compensation Notes: 
Attractive remuneration package including a competitive salary
Application Deadline: 
Thursday, February 28, 2019
Selection Deadline: 
Thursday, March 28, 2019
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
Apply to Job
Attention To: 
Human Resources
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
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