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Technical Expert - Microelectronics Engineer

When I first joined, we really didn’t have the same public profile as we do now. I didn’t know anything about the organisation until I saw an advert in an IEE publication about opportunities for engineering graduates while at University. It was an opportunity to get some real world engineering experience while I was studying. I saw it as something that was definitely a “bit different” and an opportunity to contribute to the protection of my country. So, after I graduated, I decided to apply for a full-time position. When I applied to work here, by far the most daunting part of the process was being vetted. I just didn’t really know what to expect. There was a lot of paperwork to complete because of the depth of the questions. But even though there were some personal questions, and a vetting officer came to my house, everything was done in a really friendly and professional manner and I felt at ease the whole time. Other than that, it was just like every other job I’d applied for at the time. Now I’m an IT Technical Expert in Microelectronics. Put simply, I focus on the secure use of electronics technologies such as memory devices. But there are so many components from different manufacturers; it requires a deep understanding of their internal workings so we can give advice and guidance on their use. With the industry being so fast-paced, they’re continually releasing new devices with increasingly advanced functions… so it’s a challenge to keep up with everything and understand it as much as we need to. But I’ve been given the opportunity to develop this deep understanding, which has given me the knowledge and experience to become an expert in the field both here and in the wider industry. To get to where I am, I’ve done numerous technical training courses that have all been essential to my day-to-day technical work. The organisation has provided me with the foundation to get the knowledge I need to do my job. But on top of that, I’ve also been able to go on training courses for my own personal effectiveness and how to be a manager, which has helped me in my role as a team leader. I’m now able to recognise my own strengths and where I need to develop, as well as how to get the best out of my team. One of the biggest challenges I have is getting the best people for my team. They need the right skills to do this work, with a strong focus on electronics technologies. That’s because all of the work we do is done by our small team. So I have to speak to them on a daily basis to ensure we’re delivering the desired outcomes on time. But we’re all really supportive of each other, it’s very much built into the culture of the organisation. I’ve always found that my colleagues are ready and willing to share their knowledge and experience to help me get my tasks done. It helps that we have such a great working environment, with really bright and airy open plan offices that make it much easier to hold off-the-cuff meetings. That couldn’t happen if we were all in cubicles or behind office doors. They’ve also recognised the need to get the right facilities for engineers to be as productive as we can be, which makes it a great working environment. And I haven’t even mentioned all the places to get food, coffee, the charity tuckshops, the gym, library, outdoor courtyard, informal meeting spaces, quiet room… the list just goes on.

Departments and Roles at GCHQ