SARAO is Hiring a Head of Engineering Operations for the SKA-MID Project

SARAO is Recruiting a Procurement Officer
SARAO is Recruiting a Procurement Officer

The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) is looking to hire a Head of Engineering Operations to manage and direct the engineering operations and maintenance teams. The aim will be to deliver the engineering objectives of the telescope and lead engineering upgrades and development throughout the telescope’s lifetime. The successful applicant will report to the SKA Mid–Deputy Telescope Director.

Key responsibilities

  • Provide the vision and leadership for a group of 40-50 staff who will be responsible for the engineering needs of SKAO in South Africa, as well as the operational support and local development of the SKA-Mid telescope, building an inclusive and high-performing culture;
  • Lead engineering upgrades and development through the lifetime of the SKA-Mid telescope;
  • Work with SARAO and Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) to hire a diverse and talented team of staff to support the engineering operations needs of the SKAO in South Africa;
  • Work as one of the senior staff of the SKAO in South Africa as a core member of the SKA-Mid Management Team;
  • Own the SKA-Mid telescope Standard Operating Procedures for engineering and maintenance activities to plan and implement engineering operations end-to-end, providing updates and reports as necessary;
  • Work as a senior operations group member to represent engineering performance issues to promote and encourage best engineering practices;
  • Work closely with the SKAO Engineering Managers in all aspects of engineering operations and performance across the Observatory to deliver common approaches that maximise efficiency and performance.
  • Support the roadmap development for the tools, processes and techniques that will be necessary for the oversight and management of the Observatory’s engineering performance;
  • Provide updates and reports as necessary on the status of SKA-Mid Engineering Operations in South Africa;
  • Travel, as required, to national and international meetings to represent the SKAO and the engineering Operations of SKA-Mid in South Africa in particular;
  • Communicate openly, effectively, and respectfully with all staff, clients, and suppliers in the interests of good business practice, collaboration, and enhancement of SKAO and SARAO’s reputation;
  • Adhere to the spirit and practice of SKAO and SARAO’s values, the Code of Conduct, Health, Safety and Environment procedures and policy, Diversity initiatives and Zero Harm goals; and
  • Undertake any other reasonable duties as directed.

Key requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree in an engineering discipline (preferably HPC or Electronics);
  • Pr. Eng registration or membership to South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) or Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA).
  • A total of 15 years of experience, including:
    • Ten or more years of relevant professional experience in engineering leadership of a high-technology or scientific facility, including maintenance management; and
    • a further five years in leading engineering operational teams;
  • Demonstrable record of successfully delivering long-term monitoring of engineering performance, tracking of metrics, and driving performance improvements to manage an efficient engineering and maintenance operation;
  • A demonstrated record of successful leadership and management of teams, promoting diversity and developing an inclusive, high-performing culture. Experience in all aspects of people management, including recruitment, capability development and performance management;
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate clearly, concisely, and confidently at all levels, presenting complex engineering issues and concepts in a style appropriate to the audience, and the ability to represent SKAO externally;
  • Excellent interpersonal, communication and negotiation skills, with the ability to influence, build trust, shape conversations, and change behaviours through effective relationship-building;
  • Managing remote work; and
  • A demonstrated record of establishing and running service level agreements, preferably in the NEC4 suite of contracts.
  • Teamwork and Collaboration: Creates and fosters an environment with high cooperation within and between teams. Facilitates positive team relationships to build interactions across Business Units and the organisation.
  • Influence and Communication: Uses complex influencing strategies, for example, assembling strategic coalitions, building behind-the-scenes support and the tactical use of information to gain support.
  • Resource Management/Leadership: Provides leadership that fosters an environment that encourages new ideas and supports the development of emerging skills. Creates trust by displaying consistency, understanding, integrity and patience. Plans, seeks, allocates and monitors resources to achieve outcomes.
  • Judgement and Problem Solving: Resolves major conceptual scientific, technical, commercial or management problems which have a significant impact upon research, professional function, the Business Unit or the Organisation. Situations faced have little or no precedent and require original concepts and approaches.
  • Independence: Commits significant resources in the face of uncertainty and takes calculated risks to improve performance and achieve challenging goals. Uses personal energy to drive change strategies. Formulates and implements contingency plans to minimise the impact of potential risks. Accepts personal responsibility for the outcomes of decisions/risks taken.
  • Adaptability: Is flexible in response to external change or when faced with external constraints. Identifies and promotes the opportunities arising as a result of the change.

Both SARAO and SKAO value and respect differences and commit to building an inclusive culture by creating an environment where one can balance a successful career with one’s commitments and interests outside of work. They believe that one will do one’s best at work if they have a work/life balance. Some roles lend themselves to flexible options more than others, so if this is important to any applicant, such applicant may raise this during their interview, as SARAO and SKAO are open to discussing flexible working opportunities during the hiring process.

Applicants should submit a comprehensive CV here before  31 July 2022. Furthermore, applicants should include a letter of motivation indicating their suitability for the position in their applications. In addition, the applicants must provide at least three referees’ names and contact details.

South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF) offers a challenging career and competitive remuneration package commensurate with qualifications and experience. Also, the NRF is committed to employment equity and redress, and appointments to the position will align with the NRF Employment Equity Plan. In addition, the NRF reserves the right not to make an appointment and will send correspondence to short-listed candidates only.


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