Deputy Director, Head of Operations (Science Facilities)

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Apply before 11:55 pm on Monday 21st June 2021


Reference number



Circa £90,000 for external candidates. Normal pay rules will apply for existing civil servants.


SCS Pay Band 1

Contract type


Type of role

Operational Delivery
Project Delivery
Senior leadership

Working pattern

Flexible working, Full-time

Number of posts




About the job


We are seeking a Deputy Director to operate within the science facilities and engineering professions. You will be the operations director for the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) science facilities at Weybridge ensuring that they operate safely and effectively, and that they are maintained and compliant with legislative requirements, with responsibility for all aspects of operating a high containment laboratories site.

This is an exciting opportunity to be part of the development of a world class science facility delivering infrastructure critical to animal health and farming in the UK at the heart of Defra’s agenda. A ten-year programme of work, with a budget in excess of £1B has been secured to redevelop APHA’s science laboratories based at Weybridge. You will lead a significant portfolio of Critical Works projects and work closely with the SCAH programme delivering new facilities.

Defra group’s mission is to protect and enhance the environment – with policies and actions that are also key to sustainable national growth. Defra group is responsible for safeguarding our natural environment, supporting our world-leading food and farming industry, and sustaining a thriving rural economy. Our broad remit means we play a major role in people's day-to-day life, from the food we eat, and the air we breathe, to the water we drink.

Within the group, APHA works to safeguard animal and plant health for the benefit of people, the environment and the economy. APHA is responsible for veterinary research and surveillance; it is at the forefront of research into diseases such as TB, TSEs, Blue Tongue and Avian Influenza; it is critical in protecting the UK farming and food industries from the impact of animal disease and for ensuring that outbreaks of animal disease are successfully contained.

The site has a wide range of specialist and complex scientific facilities, laboratories and a range of other buildings, and is one of only 30 such sites across the world. The Weybridge site is the largest facility in terms of size and complexity across the Defra network.

Job description

The Head of operations for the Science facilities will lead the implementation of new facilities and service management arrangements in line with an agreed operating model to meet the needs of the Weybridge site development plan.

You will lead the relationship with the facilities management contractor on the science estate, ensuring that services are developed to meet the needs of the estate and appropriate contractual and partnership performance and continuous improvement is maintained across all of the Defra Group’s science facilities, Weybridge and Regional Laboratories.

You will work in partnership with the Leadership team of APHA and the Site Development Programme to provide strategic direction into site development design and future business cases to document business needs and resource requirements. You will also maintain a strong and constructive relationship with key regulators such as the HSE, the Crown Fire Inspection Group and The Home Office to ensure safety, ethical and biosecurity standards are maintained, and work with scientists and the Safety, Health and Wellbeing team to make sure their needs are built into operational plans.

You will build respected and trusted technical working relationships with other containment laboratory clients, consultants, contractors and government stakeholders and take the lead in implementing technical standards and resolving small project and operational escalations. You will network both domestically and internationally to make sure that Defra group gathers best in class input on science facilities, and you will represent Defra group at events and conferences.


Successful candidates will be able to demonstrate their experience in the following areas:

• Inspiring leadership, with the ability to build teams and provide direction in a high pressure and fast paced environment, harnessing the talents of people and creating an inclusive, ambitious, outward-facing and professional work environment;

• Excellent communications skills both orally and in writing;

• Outstanding management skills, with evidence of developing the capability and performance of teams, promoting an inclusive and supportive environment;

• The ability to preserve both personal and team resilience to work under pressure over extended periods;

• Aptitude for seeing and translating the bigger picture. Understanding the political and external context in order to set clear, positive direction;

• Experience of leading operational delivery within a complex and highly regulated environment; and

• A chartered engineer, educated to graduate standard in an engineering discipline relevant to the post or demonstrable relevant experience.


We'll assess you against these behaviours during the selection process:

  • Seeing the Big Picture
  • Making Effective Decisions
  • Leadership
  • Communicating and Influencing
  • Working Together


• Learning and development tailored to your role
• An environment with flexible working options
• A culture encouraging inclusion and diversity
• A Civil Service pension

Things you need to know


Successful candidates must pass a disclosure and barring security check.
Successful candidates must meet the security requirements before they can be appointed. The level of security needed is security check.

See our vetting charter.
People working with government assets must complete basic personnel security standard checks.

Selection process details

This vacancy is using Success Profiles, and will assess your Behaviours, Strengths and Experience.
Application Process
As part of the application process you will be asked to complete a CV and personal statement
Further details around what this will entail are listed on the application form, to complete this please apply via the Apply Now button.

Sift results are expected to be released w/c 28th June.

Feedback will only be available to those candidates who are successful at Sift.

Staff Engagement Exercises are expected to take place w/c 5th July.

Interviews are expected to take place w/c 19th July.

Interviews will be conducted via MS Teams

If successful at application stage, you will be invited to interview where you will be assessed on Experience, Behaviours and Strengths.

A presentation or additional exercise may also be assessed.

Reserve List
A reserve list may be held for a period of 12 months from which further appointments can be made.

Circa £90,000 for external candidates. Candidates moving on level transfer within the Civil Service will retain their existing salary. Civil Service candidates on promotion will have their salary increased by 10% or receive the starting salary for SCS PB1, whichever is higher.

Reasonable Adjustment
If a person with disabilities is put at a substantial disadvantage compared to a non-disabled person, we have a duty to make reasonable changes to our processes.

If you need a change to be made so that you can make your application, you should:

- Contact Government Recruitment Service via as soon as possible before the closing date to discuss your needs.
- Complete the “Assistance required” section in the “Additional requirements” page of your application form to tell us what changes or help you might need further on in the recruitment process. For instance, you may need wheelchair access at interview, or if you’re deaf, a Language Service Professional.

If you are experiencing accessibility problems with any attachments on this advert, please contact the email address in the 'Contact point for applicants' section.

Criminal Record Check
If successful and transferring from another Government Department, a criminal record check maybe carried out.

In order to process applications without delay, we will be sending a Criminal Record Check to Disclosure and Barring Service on your behalf. However, we recognize in exceptional circumstance some candidates will want to send their completed forms direct. If you will be doing this, please advise Government Recruitment Service of your intention by emailing stating the job reference number in the subject heading.

Internal Fraud Database Check
Applicants who are successful at interview will be, as part of pre-employment screening subject to a check on the Internal Fraud Database (IFD). This check will provide information about employees who have been dismissed for fraud or dishonesty offences. This check also applies to employees who resign or otherwise leave before being dismissed for fraud or dishonesty had their employment continued. Any applicant’s details held on the IFD will be refused employment.

Childcare Vouchers
Any move to Defra from another employer will mean you can no longer access childcare vouchers. You may however be eligible for other government schemes, including Tax Free Childcare. Determine your eligibility at

We are closely monitoring the situation with regard to Coronavirus, and will be following central Government advice as it is issued. There is therefore a risk that recruitment to this post may be subject to change at short notice. Please continue to follow the application process as normal and ensure that you check your emails regularly for any updates from us as this is how we will communicate with you.

Feedback will only be provided if you attend an interview or assessment.

Nationality requirements

This job is broadly open to the following groups:

  • UK nationals
  • nationals of Commonwealth countries who have the right to work in the UK
  • nationals of the Republic of Ireland
  • nationals from the EU, EEA or Switzerland with (or eligible for) status under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS)
  • relevant EU, EEA, Swiss or Turkish nationals working in the Civil Service
  • relevant EU, EEA, Swiss or Turkish nationals who have built up the right to work in the Civil Service
  • certain family members of the relevant EU, EEA, Swiss or Turkish nationals
Further information on nationality requirements

Working for the Civil Service

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.

We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission's recruitment principles.
The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equal opportunities. As such, we run a Disability Confident Scheme (DCS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria.

Apply and further information

Once this job has closed, the job advert will no longer be available. You may want to save a copy for your records.

Contact point for applicants

Job contact :
Name :
Email :
Recruitment team :
Email :

Further information

Complaints If you feel your application has not been treated in accordance with the Recruitment Principles and you wish to make a complaint, in the first instance, you should contact Government Recruitment Services via email: If you are not satisfied with the response you receive from the Department, you can contact the Civil Service Commission: Click here to visit Civil Service Commission

Share this page