DE&S Chief Executive Officer

Location: South West
Pay: £260,000 - £290,000
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£260,000 - £290,000
Publish Date: 12/10/2021
End Date: 30/11/2021
Job Reference: 103958

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About the job


“Delivering the edge through people, technology and innovation”

Our mission is to equip and support the UK’s Armed Forces for operations now and in the future.

The Integrated Review describes a global security landscape that is rapidly evolving as we move towards a more competitive and multipolar world. The UK and its allies face increasingly complex and wide-ranging threats borne of state and non-state actors. DE&S is central to the UK’s global strategy, providing the equipment and support to deter and defend against adversaries at sea, on land, in the air, in space and cyberspace.

As a professional delivery organisation, we are supported by our status as a bespoke trading entity and an arm’s length body of the MOD. We have certain freedoms which help us to develop the skills we need and to deliver significant financial benefits.

We invest in our people to ensure we have the capabilities, thought leadership and professionalism demanded by our customers: the Armed Forces. Our hugely diverse mix of civil servants, such as engineers, project managers, commercial specialists and logistics experts, work alongside our military and private sector colleagues.

We have clear accountabilities to drive ownership, decision-making and transparency. We are supported by a tailored governance structure with an independent board. Above all, we are experienced professionals, able to deliver some of the most complex, multi-year programmes and support arrangements nationally, and around the globe.

Every year, we deliver programmes of work to the value of £10bn. Our 11,000 employees manage over 600 live order book items at any one time, with our acting as custodians for 80% of the most complex equipment projects across MOD. Our work supports 88,000 jobs across the UK.

We are proud of our culture – our focus on hitting milestones, the collaborative way we work with our partners and customers, and the professionalism and flexibility with which we deliver. As we look to the future we will continue to promote a culture that enables people with the right skills and behaviours to thrive and excel. Through embedding our values we will also create a culture which supports our future success – one that drives pace by challenging bureaucracy and delivers innovation through curiosity and diversity of thought – and directly benefits our clients.

Job description

The CEO of DE&S leads the MOD’s largest professional project delivery organisation which is responsible for delivering highly-complex capabilities to its military customers, sustaining them in-service, and disposing of them at the end of their lives.

DE&S is an Executive Agency (arm’s length body) sponsored by the Ministry of Defence. The strategic direction of DE&S is set by a predominantly non-executive Board of which the CEO is a member. The CEO is a Permanent Secretary-level position and the DE&S Accounting Officer, directly responsible to Parliament for the stewardship of our resources.

The 2021 Integrated Review and the associated Defence and Security Industrial Strategy saw the UK Government commit to a radical programme of investment in new capabilities to meet the threats of the future. The MOD will invest a total of over £85bn on equipment and support in the next four years (including £24bn of new funding). DE&S will play a critical role in delivering these new capabilities and the CEO will oversee a programme of strategic change to ensure the organisation adapts accordingly including investment in novel digital technologies and adoption of new, streamlined acquisition processes.

The Armed Forces operate in a multilateral environment and the DE&S CEO, as the UK’s National Armaments Director, will need to work with international counterparts to pursue opportunities for beneficial outcomes, particularly alignment of programmes and interoperability of systems.

As the MOD’s largest professional delivery body, DE&S employs 11,000 staff across over 150 sites worldwide including its headquarters in Bristol. DE&S delivers a programme of work worth £10bn each year which comprises some 80% of the MOD’s most complex projects. The requirements for these equipment programmes are set by customers in MOD’s domain areas with MOD centre providing oversight and coherence of programmes. DE&S supports early programme planning through provision of advice on potential options to meet military requirements, as well as challenge and support to the customer to define their requirements.

Subsequently DE&S translates these requirements into contracts to deliver the required outcomes and value for money for the taxpayer. The organisation monitors the delivery against the contracts; supports the acceptance of the capabilities into service; maintains and upgrades them through life and; ensures cost effective disposal when they are no longer required. Given the nature of military equipment procurement, contracts are often complex with significant technical and commercial risks to manage and as such DE&S requires a workforce with the commercial and project management capabilities to work constructively with industry (from multi-nationals to SMEs) and hold them to account for delivery as required.

In addition to equipment procurement and support, DE&S is also responsible for a range of logistics capabilities and infrastructure including munitions depots and the British Forces Post Office. These capabilities support the UK Armed Forces in the delivery of standing tasks, training and deployed operations. DE&S has recently demonstrated the versatility of its procurement and logistics expertise by supporting the Government-wide response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Across all of these activities, the safety of DE&S staff, its customers, the public and the environment is paramount. The DE&S CEO is responsible for maintaining the appropriate safety systems, culture and pool of suitably qualified and experienced personnel to deliver this duty.

The CEO is the delegated Accounting Officer for the operating costs of DE&S, currently some £1bn, and therefore directly accountable to Parliament for this spend. DE&S is heavily involved in designing the forward equipment procurement and support solutions, but the ultimate decisions rest with Ministers and customers.

The DE&S Board provides the strategic leadership of the organisation in delivering its objectives and promotes the long-term sustainable success of and the desired culture within DE&S. It provides a forum for non-executive support, advice and constructive challenge to the CEO and DE&S executives.

Building on the DE&S@21 change programme, DE&S has recently announced DE&S@2025 which includes specific measures to respond to strategic challenges including delivery of the Integrated Review and DSIS outcomes whilst taking a leading role in supporting the government’s priorities of creating jobs, increasing exports and tackling climate change.


• Lead DE&S as it delivers some of the most complex, multi-year programmes in the world. This ranges from cutting-edge fighter jets through to special forces equipment. Providing support for all of our kit and people is just as essential; this includes significant upgrade programmes, operational logistics, and the British Forces Post Office.

• Building on progress to date, embed significant change across the organisation and work in lockstep with the Defence community to ensure Integrated Review commitments are met. Champion the development and deployment of new processes, technology and workforce skills to enable acquisition reform and deliver outputs at reduced costs to the customer.

• Manage, motivate and engage staff to develop their capability and be a role model for the ambitions and values of DE&S. Reinforce and support a culture of continuous improvement and increased workforce capability and diversity, whilst driving a culture of high performance and excellent delivery.

• Provide strong leadership to the organisation by articulating a clear vision to staff, setting a direction for that vision and ensuring it is organised, resourced and motivated to support Ministers and customers effectively – including delivery of their key priorities.

• Ensure DE&S operates to the highest standards of corporate governance, working with and drawing on the strengths of the independent Board to deliver challenging and realistic corporate and business plans.

• As Accounting Officer, be personally responsible and accountable to Parliament for the use of public money and the stewardship of its assets, ensuring that DE&S operates effectively and to a high standard of probity in respect of governance, decision making and financial management. The full responsibilities of Accounting Officers are set out in Chapter 3 of Managing Public Money.

Professional Skills and Experience

Essential Criteria:

• Extensive experience leading a large organisation or business unit delivering complex multi-year programmes, with a track record of developing and diversifying the workforce in order to meet evolving demands.

• A sharp intellect and an ability to drive organisational performance in relation to programme and/or service delivery in a rapidly changing environment.

• Experience developing and implementing long-term strategies within delivery organisations.

• A clear commitment to developing diverse and inclusive teams.

• Track record of working within complex customer and stakeholder-driven environments, with an ability to secure the confidence of senior interested parties.

• Exceptional communication skills and an understanding of interfacing with regulated, public or highly-scrutinised settings, ideally within safety-critical environments.

Desirable Criteria

• A clear understanding of the pressures facing commercial organisations working with public sector stakeholders is also desirable.


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