Defence Science and Technology Laboratory Employee Reviews about "mod"

Updated 11 Jul 2019

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3.3
54%
Recommend to a Friend
80%
Approve of CEO
Defence Science and Technology Laboratory Chief Executive   Gary Aitkenhead (no image)
Gary Aitkenhead
43 Ratings
Pros
  • "Flexible working hours excellent pensions on-site gyms(in 39 reviews)

  • "Stimulating, endlessly interesting work at the cutting edge of science(in 37 reviews)

Cons
  • "Very 'civil service', employees who have been there a long time can be a bit cynical/jaded(in 22 reviews)

  • "It is a part of the MOD so you can't talk about what you do with many people other than your colleagues(in 16 reviews)

More Pros and Cons
Pros & Cons are excerpts from user reviews. They are not authored by Glassdoor.

Reviews about "mod"

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  1. Helpful (22)

    "Recommendation depends on so many factors"

    2.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Principal Engineer in Salisbury, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Defence Science and Technology Laboratory full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Flexible working Benefits (except pay) Location Some colleagues Dstl can be a good place to work but you need to be after very specific things for that to be the case, and be lucky enough to drop into a work area that can facilitate those things. For scientists working in the chembio area I’m sure it’s probably one of the more exciting places you could work, and the organisation provides a critical national capability in this area. The site is quite pleasant and the benefits of being out of a city can’t be understated, as long as you can get there. At dstl I’ve genuinely worked with some of the most talented and dedicated people I’ve come across in my career. There are, albeit in my view not enough, some incredibly passionate, skilled and experienced people working for dstl and if you are lucky enough to work with them then it can be truly rewarding. Some people really are making a difference to this country, although the organisation is poor at talking about it in public and maintaining its image (there is seemingly a constant fight in national press coverage between mentioning Dstl or just saying MoD scientists). Benefits are typical of the civil service (the pension is excellent, but you’ve got the unknown political influence that means it isn’t as set in stone as you’d like) and the commitment to flexible working (hours and from home) is excellent and generally well managed (I.e crack on as long as you are getting the job done). Pay is poor. Not unique for the civil service but it is uniquely so here. For whatever reason the pay system is unified across admin and S&T staff unlike other organisations - this means that and PA can be paid the same as a graduate engineer, despite the latter being much more valuable in terms of skills and delivery of organisational purpose. Within S&T they have also been unable to bring in specialist skill pay despite partners elsewhere in government being able to make this case for similar roles. Overall, you might get lucky and end up working with some great people on interesting work. But the problems start when that doesn’t happen - which is more likely. It’s tough to recommend somewhere where your satisfaction depends purely on luck.

    Cons

    Some colleagues Pay Your enjoyment will vary As a counterpoint to above, I’ve sadly also worked with some of the worst people here. It’s really difficult to say what the balance is but there is a lot of chaff in the organisation and you are likely to have to endure it regardless of otherwise how good some people can be. Some of it is purely down to a lack of appropriate capability at the right level and the organisation struggles to deal with this. There is a lot of people cruising just enough to stay off of anyone’s radar but that ends up with there being a lot of, relatively misplaced, dependency on quite a few supposed experts who aren’t that interested, talented or just have out of date knowledge. Also people related, but because of the lack of a single mission focus there can be quite a vitriolic atmosphere between different divisions and is something that particularly manifests itself on the internal social network. Everyone is pulling in different directions and trying to tie that all together into a cohesive whole has something that the organisation has long struggled with. The major major gripe, that will entirely depending on your skills and job, is technology infrastructure. There has been woeful investment in IT for a number of years which is now causing major issues with delivery of technology heavy projects. This has been exacerbated by a number of poor decisions on infrastructure that were not correct at the time they were made, but have been persisted with due to sunk costs. There is a lot of blame to go around but it falls mostly with the organisation rather than its strategic supplier. Very few of the staff involved in corporate technology have the requisite knowledge and/or experience to be running the function - either this is lack of commercial IT experience/expertise and/or understanding of the S&T business. Corporate policy’s force you down the managed route but the IT function has little motivation nor desire to treat the S&T business like a real customer and service it’s demands. Even if they wanted to, which I genuinely don’t believe, there isn’t enough money anyway. Words like internal cloud will be bounced around at interview but set expectations to minimum, it’s a poorly delivered virtual desktop environment that is so constrained to be near useless. And despite hawking that it’s met the rules at the time, those have changed (dramatically) but the solution hasn’t. Public cloud is a distant dream (even though it’s government policy). Modern, state of the art it isn’t. Vast amount of staff time is spent fighting this system (people, process and technology) rather than doing real work - it’s a shame because a more forward leaning and less risk adverse management could make significant changes here but the costs would be astronomical and it’s difficult to see a route out of the quagmire it’s in. A lot of the seniors within corporate IT would challenge this assessment, but it’s completely true, and they are the problem - without fundamental change in people and policy then the technology estate will remain stuck in the dark ages. To add insults to injury - you’ll probably be involved in contracting out interesting work to commercial suppliers who don’t have the same restrictions and are free to use lots of modern technologies - talk about kicking you while you’re down! Progression is good to a point, but beyond that technical career progression becomes hard and is an element of luck, dead mans shoes and ability to get involved in high profile work. After 0900 it’s impossible to get a desk with screens, keyboard and mouse so are relegated to sitting at a breakout desk all day staring down at a laptop screen (quite how this doesn’t breach H&S law I’m not sure). And good luck parking.

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  2. "I enjoy my job - nothing stays the same for long, there's something new to work on all the time!"

    5.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Team Leader in Fareham, England
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Defence Science and Technology Laboratory full-time for more than 8 years

    Pros

    Varied work Interesting work Real-world impact of work Job satisfaction Flexi-time Pension

    Cons

    It is a part of the MOD so you can't talk about what you do with many people other than your colleagues You cannot be dual-national to work here Pay is not the same as industry, but then... we're not industry!


  3. Helpful (19)

    "Frustrating"

    2.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Scientist 
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Defence Science and Technology Laboratory full-time for more than 10 years

    Pros

    Flexible working, some potential to engage with a lot of interesting science and technology. Some good procurement mechanisms by the standards of the public sector. Free milk at Porton.

    Cons

    Communication within Dstl is poor, generally very slow, somewhat ambiguous and sometimes rude. Very risk-averse culture, with a lot of management layers, some of which like to micro-manage, which makes it very slow to achieve (external) delivery objectives - as a result many objectives are simply internal hurdles which need to be jumped, leaving little time for more satisfying work. Pay is significantly worse than the rest of the civil service, with some grades receiving a third less than equivalent roles in MOD and other departments. Parking and desk space can be difficult to secure at Porton Down.

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  4. Helpful (21)

    "Brown Nosing is the Way to Go"

    2.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Principal Hardware Engineer in Porton, England
    Negative Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Defence Science and Technology Laboratory full-time for more than 8 years

    Pros

    A roof, toilets if the seats aren't broken. Relaxed work load with no sense of urgency.

    Cons

    The pay is bellow mainstream MOD. Despite inclusion addenda for women, ethnic minorities, LGBQ+xyz the ageism is rampant. Managers only like babies fresh from Uni to bully into submission. The strategy of management is to reduce the work force. The easy way to achieve this is to be mean to the oldies so they go away. Below inflation pay rises for 10 years in a row! This is the equivalent of a minimum wage job in technology. You don't get excellence by filing seats with underperforming lazy fresh meat. Those who stay must like brown nosing or lack imagination to find a better paying role in the real world. A whole load of Cyber staff left recently ad double their wage.

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  5. Helpful (12)

    "Great work, some poor behaviours"

    3.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee 
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Defence Science and Technology Laboratory full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Great team members Interesting work Lots of people keen to make a difference Good for building networks internally and externally Flexi time Good place to work once you know who to avoid

    Cons

    Pay is poor compared to MOD and Industry Some power hungry individuals building empires, having to have their finger in every pie and taking credit for others work Career level process overly complex putting people off and setting people up to fail Significant understaffing in functions Unrealistic expectations/workloads in functions No recognition/reward for high quality work, as the moon on a stick is "expected at your level" Recruitment to cover staff who's work could be covered by them putting effort in or automation, rather than support those working hard but drowning in work Lack of training in functions Have to go to a fair treatment advisor, who then has to fight for poor behaviours to be challenged

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  6. Helpful (21)

    "Ex-CAST"

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee 
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I have been working at Defence Science and Technology Laboratory full-time

    Pros

    Good commercial group and IT

    Cons

    Having to move sites and work for MoD , pay being frozen so we revert from reasonable HO pay to v poor DSTL pay. Business procedures overly complicated and risk averse. We have run trials for years, but aren't allowed to at DSTL.

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  7. Helpful (13)

    "extremely patchy"

    3.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Principal in Salisbury, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Defence Science and Technology Laboratory full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Opportunities to do worthwhile work. Can work with the military, who are often better than the civil servants. Our engagement score has stopped tanking, so we're definitely doing less wrong than we were before. Patches of technical excellence, especially in chemical, biological and radiological areas. Flexi time, civil service pension etc.

    Cons

    The aforementioned patches of technical excellence only exist because of stubborn, skilled people forcing them into existence despite the best efforts of the management to get us to subcontract everything for political reasons. In other areas, we have appalling management and a continual failure to deliver due to a relentless devaluing and divestment of technical capability. A lot of this is obfuscated because our primary customer (MoD) is no better, and is frequently unable to stop how bad we're being.

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    Defence Science and Technology Laboratory Response

    January 16, 2018Resourcing Advisor

    Thank you for your review. It’s clear that you do not feel Dstl is what it once was. However, like the vast majority of organisations, Dstl has had to change in order to respond to numerous external factors including political and financial ones. We accept these changes may not always be palatable to existing employees and do try to ensure the reasons for these changes are known. In certain areas the fact that work can be carried out outside of Dstl does mean that we need more account and project managers, and we have been recruiting for these positions.

  8. "Military Advisor"

    5.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee 
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

    I worked at Defence Science and Technology Laboratory full-time

    Pros

    Great organisation with some fantastic people. Great team delivering critical R&D to defence.

    Cons

    Undervalued and misunderstood by MoD and Govt. Its talent needs to be unleashed

    Defence Science and Technology Laboratory Response

    October 30, 2017Resourcing Advisor

    Thank you for taking the time to post a review. I'm glad to hear that you feel Dstl is a great organisation with fantastic people.

  9. Helpful (1)

    "Great place to work, below average pay"

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Operations Analyst in Portsmouth, South East England, England
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Defence Science and Technology Laboratory full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Interesting work, great amount of time spent on your personal development, opportunities for travel both in the UK and abroad (depending on role). Flexi time and generous leave (and even time off for volunteering) is very useful, and you get discounts and benefits for being in MOD. It is possible to experience work in other sectors of the company, and sometimes you get the opportunities for secondments into industry.

    Cons

    The pay is below the civil service and industry average.

  10. "Excellent organisation to work for. Interesting work and great flexible working conditions."

    5.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Fareham, England
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Defence Science and Technology Laboratory full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Interesting work,ability to move about the organisation. Flexible working hours. Most staff members are fully committed to the labs direction.

    Cons

    Some of the old staff are stuck in their ways and will oppose any change that the lab tries to implement. Constantly banging on about being underpaid in line with other Mod worker's. Some Managers aren't very good. Some need to be "moved on"

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