I joined GCHQ in December 2013 on the Future Leaders Programme. I really wanted to work within security and intelligence, having studied Languages and International Relations, but more than anything I wanted to ensure my work had wider purpose. It was important for me that my work contributed to protecting national security – stopping terrorists, serious criminals and cyber criminals from attacking the UK is a real motivator.
I applied under the Future Leaders Programme to both develop my leadership potential, and gain a broad view of GCHQ’s activities.
Through this programme, I’ve been able to experience life as an analyst, as a staff officer to a senior official informing national cyber policy, and have worked alongside some of our brightest technical minds. I’ve since built on my analytical background to undertake a series of operational management roles, most recently leading counter-terrorist operations. I’ve even experienced the corporate side of GCHQ’s business, which has helped me understand the valuable behind-the-scenes work that goes on, without which GCHQ wouldn’t be able to function.
Being on the programme has allowed me to build credibility in operations, where I aspire to have a senior leadership positon in the future, it has also allowed me to experience other aspects of GCHQ work, and meet a whole range of talented and committed people along the way.
The programme is fast-paced and challenging, and you’re constantly pushed to keep learning and developing. I’ve found the rest of the Future Leaders community really friendly and helpful, and we’re also supported by mentors and buddies, which helps you settle in. There’s also a bespoke programme of training and development, which helps you understand the context in which GCHQ operates. The programme offers a whole range of varied opportunities both within and outside Cheltenham, and also offers flexible working. I’ve found it a really good grounding in intelligence and I’m proud to contribute to GCHQ’s mission.