Lead Researcher Ref. 2930

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Specialist Roles
Full time with flexible working
£48,104- £53,637 dependent on skills and experience (package includes basic and skills payment). You will receive a one-off recruitment bonus and opportunity to qualify for a specialist skills payment of up to £14,560 per annum

About us

At GCHQ, we unlock the complex world of data and communications to keep the UK and its citizens safe, both in the real world and online. Working closely with our British Intelligence partners in MI5 and MI6, we protect the UK from threats including serious organised crime, terrorism, and cyber-attacks. A role in GCHQ means you’ll have varied and fascinating work in a supportive and encouraging environment that puts the emphasis on teamwork.

The Role

Are you interested in Science and Technology? As a Research and Development lead at GCHQ  we’ll help you to advance the art of the possible.  We provide the innovation our organisation relies on to stay ahead of our adversaries.  Working closely with partners (both domestic and international)  and other experts, you’ll set the standard for what good looks like. More than that, GCHQ has a strong role to play in supporting the government's ambition for the UK to be a science and technology superpower.  We work outside our traditional boundaries to bring our influence and expertise to other government departments and support UK industry, ensuring that the UK operates at the very forefront of technology.

Research at GCHQ is an interesting, unique, and challenging place to work, with an emphasis on the team, partnerships, and collaboration with both our UK and UKUSA (5 eyes) agencies.  All of our research is driven by strategic priorities and in particular the challenge to the traditional western dominance of the technology markets.  The Software analysis team in our Research and Development unit investigate features, characteristics and dependancies behind global software development, using a wide range of skills from within the team to adopt a multidisciplinary approach to our analysis.  We’re  looking for someone with the experience to lead in a Research DevOps environment bringing cloud and infrastructure as code skills to enable automation and scaling of our software analysis capabilities. 

Your responsibilities will include:

  • Lead the DevOps process within our existing research team, working across public and private clouds, to operationally deploy analytic capability delivering real benefit to GCHQ.
  • Using infrastructure as code techniques you will enable automation and scaling of capabilities across our cloud environments.
  • You will lead the deployment of new analytic capabilities from their development within the team/community into operational use to deliver real benefit to GCHQ
  • You will help to build and maintain the software analysis community with GCHQ and across the 5 eyes.
  • You will oversee contracts with industry to develop capabilities, and manage their integration into our suit of analytics.
  • You will also work with the other leads in the team to pull in capabilities developed at international research institutions with which we have partnerships.
  • There will be opportunity to be involved in developing your own analytic capabilities alongside and with the team.
  • You will work in the unique environment offered by secret intelligence, balancing longer term research with supporting current operations.
  • Provide direct management and support for individuals or wider team (dependant on role/position) - Full training will be provided.

Whatever the problem, we will expect you to develop yourself to use the most appropriate technologies, techniques, and processes to solve it, so you will need to be comfortable learning new skills and keeping yourself up to date.

About You

We’re  looking to recruit an experienced DevOps lead, to support work within our established software analysis research team.  You’ll have a relevant STEM based degree and post graduate experience or have equivalent professional experience in a relevant field.

You should be able to demonstrate experience in the following areas:
•    Working in or leading in a DevOps environment, experience within a research context would be highly desirable
•    Cloud skills (using Public and/or Private clouds), including:
o    Infrastructure as Code
o    Automation and scaling techniques, microservice architectures
o    Interoperability of capability between public and private clouds
•    High level programming language (Python, C/C++ desirable)

Additional skills/experience in any of the following areas would be desirable:
•    Continuous integration/continuous development
•    Virtualisation and Containerisation techniques, (specifically Docker and Kubernetes)
•    Software and firmware analysis (including software development, operating systems, reverse engineering, malware, vulnerability research, fuzzing, synthetic data generation, static and dynamic software analysis)
•    Understanding of global software supply chain dependencies and vulnerabilities
•    Community code repositories (i.e. Github) and community software projects
•    Ability and appetite to develop yourself and those around you, learning and adapting to new technology advancements, including mentoring, teaching, and coaching others.
•    Able to work proactively and collaboratively with customers, partners in diverse teams
•    Conducting formal scientific research, including published papers
•    Effective oral & written communication

Training and Development

At GCHQ, we’re proud to offer an inclusive and supportive working environment that encourages open minds and attitudes. As an organisation that values and nurtures talent, we are committed to helping you fulfil your potential. In S&T Research there are several expertise-based communities with an inclusive supportive culture at the heart of them that helps and supports personal technical development.  You will be expected to join and engage with these, and should you wish there is always opportunity for more active leading of them as part of a group of community leads (taken from all grades)

GCHQ as an employer offers excellent opportunities for training and professionalisation.You will be eligible to join our accredited professionalisation scheme, and we will pay for you to achieve charted status or gain membership with a professional body.  As with all modern organisations we are able to offer elements of home working where security restrictions allow.

At GCHQ we value your ability to learn and adapt to new challenges, we’ll invest in your skills and the way you like to learn, from books, individual study, courses (online and classroom), and conferences to stretching work with support of the team.  We’ll support and encourage you to develop your skills to be the best version of you.

You’ll receive a starting salary of between £48,104 - £53,637 with potential to qualify for specialist skill payment of up to £14,560 per annum in the future. You will receive an additional one-off recruitment bonus, plus other benefits including: 

-    25 Days Annual Leave automatically rising to 30 days after 5 years' service, and an additional 10.5 days public and privilege holidays
-    Opportunities to be recognised through our employee performance scheme
-    Interest-free season ticket loan
-    Excellent pension scheme
-    Cycle to work scheme
-    Facilities such as a gym, restaurant and on-site coffee bars (at some locations)
-    Paid parental and adoption leave. 

Equal Opportunities

At GCHQ, diversity and inclusion are critical to our mission. To protect the UK, we need a truly diverse workforce that reflects the society we serve. This includes diversity in every sense of the word: those with different backgrounds, ages, ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, ways of thinking and those with disabilities or neurodivergent conditions. We therefore welcome and encourage applications from everyone, including those from groups that are under-represented in our workforce such as women, those from an ethnic minority background, people with disabilities and those from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Find out more about our culture, working environment and diversity on our website:


We’re Disability Confident

GCHQ are proud to have achieved Leader status within the DWP’s Disability Confident scheme.  This is aimed at encouraging employers to think differently about disability and take action to improve how they recruit, retain and develop disabled people.  Being Disability Confident, we aim to offer a person-to-person interview to any candidate who self-identifies as disabled and meets the essential criteria for the role.  This is our ‘Offer of Interview’ (OOI). To secure an interview for this vacancy, the essential criteria (in order of application process) are: 

•    STEM graduate qualification, 2:2 or above, or equivalent period of professional experience
•    Post graduate experience, or an extended period of professional experience in a lead DevOps role
•    Able to demonstrate proficiency in high level language programming (e.g. skills in  Python, C, C++ or Java)
•    Able to demonstrate Cloud based skills (including infrastructure as code and automation and scaling in public/private cloud environment) 
•    Able to demonstrate effective communication and coaching/training with a range of people

What to Expect

Our recruitment process is fair, transparent, and based on merit. Here is a brief overview of each stage, in order:

•    Application sift, looking at your skills, experience, expertise and knowledge in relation to the essential criteria
•    Interview, looking at your motivation for the role and the organisation and diving deeper into your previous experience and what skills and experience you would bring to the role
•    If successful, you will receive a conditional offer of employment, subject to vetting

Please note, you must successfully pass each stage of the process to progress to the next. Your application may take around 6 - 9 months to process including vetting, so we advise you continue any current employment until you have received your final job offer.

Before You Apply

To work at GCHQ, you need to be a British citizen or hold dual British nationality. You can read our full eligibility criteria here.

This role requires the highest security clearance, known as Developed Vetting (DV). It’s something everyone in the UK Intelligence Community undertakes. You can find out more about the vetting process here

Please note we have a strict drugs policy, so once you start your application, you can’t take any recreational drugs and you’ll need to declare your previous drug usage at the relevant stage.

The role is based in Cheltenham, so you’ll need to live within a commutable distance of one of those locations. Please consider any financial implications and practicalities before submitting an application, as we do not offer relocation costs.

Please note, you should only launch your application from within the UK. If you are based overseas, you should wait until you visit the UK to launch an application. Applying from outside the UK will impact on our ability to progress your application. You should not discuss your application, other than with your partner or a close family member. 

Right to Withdraw Statement: 

Please be aware that we reserve the right to bring forward the closing date for this role from the original closing date once a certain number of applications have been received. Please be mindful of this and submit your application at your earliest convenience to avoid disappointment. 

This Program / Vacancy is closed to applications.