Senior Desk Officer, UK Defence and Security Exports

Department for International Trade
  • Location
    London, United Kingdom
  • Sector
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Apply by
  • Posted
    May 12

Position description

This is an exciting time to join the Department for International Trade (DIT). Our aim is to promote British trade and investment across the world which is vital for the prosperity of the UK. DIT brings together policy, promotion and financial expertise to break down barriers to trade and investment in markets across the world to help businesses succeed. This is a great opportunity to be part of an international team that contributes to the success of the UK's trade goals. 

The Department is currently moving into the newly renovated Old Admiralty Building. This Grade II listed building is a fantastic base from which to work, and host UK and international partners alike. The level of investment demonstrates the value of the Department’s work and it is a real privilege to call it home. As part of our new ways of working, once the situation allows, colleagues should expect, on average, to be in OAB 2-3 days per week. 

UK Defence and Security Exports (UK DSE) within DIT supports the defence, security, cyber and space sectors. These are strategically important sectors that contribute significantly to our exports, national prosperity and inward investment, and are fundamental to the UK’s national security and our wider diplomatic and economic interests around the world. Customers in the defence sector are exclusively other Governments, so HMG support is a fundamental component of successful export campaigns. Overseas customers often view procurement of UK equipment as part of a wider bilateral relationship – and the topic regularly occupies discussion time at the most senior bilateral meetings. The requirement for a post Covid-19 economic injection, and the ongoing Integrated Review, make this the time to join this dynamic, cross-cutting strand of HMG’s global engagement. 

You would be joining the organisation as a Senior Desk Officer, reporting directly to the Assistant Head of one of the regional teams. You would be working on markets with the ‘Europe/Africa/Middle East/Central and South Asia’ geographical area. Working with Military and Security Advisers, the Whitehall defence and security community, UK industry and across our diplomatic networks, you will have a high degree of autonomy and personal responsibility to drive exports in your markets with significant long-term strategic importance to the UK. 

This high-profile role offers a unique opportunity to simultaneously lead on strands of HMG’s trade and prosperity, defence and security and diplomatic agendas; providing the role-holder with the opportunity to develop broad networks and skills for career growth in any of these areas. 

Successful candidates should be willing to obtain Developed Vetting (DV) security clearance once in post.

Job description

As the Senior Desk Officer, your role transcends three varied stakeholder groups: UK industry, UK Government colleagues in the UK and overseas, and customer Governments. Your work falls into three parts: 

1) You will lead and initiate work with the first two stakeholder groups to develop and execute defence and security export campaigns for your markets. 
2) You’ll build close networks on your markets to develop wider market entry/development strategies for UK PLC. You will need to think strategically and will regularly lead communication of complex advice in writing and orally. 
3) You will represent UK DSE at exhibitions and trade missions, overseas and in the UK, and will support wider colleagues in these environments. 

These three parts will give you the chance to demonstrate and develop a wide array of skills and experiences. You will prepare briefs and submissions for Ministers and senior officials, sometimes at short notice. This includes developing plans for the strategic employment of Ministers and senior officials to influence, develop relationships and progress campaigns, as a high proportion of the markets in scope are priorities for the UK Government. Strategic thinking is vital, as the role will provide you with an insight into UK industry and commercial processes, whilst requiring you to consider the defence and security export objectives in the context of HMG’s wider security and foreign policy agenda.


Essential Criteria 

  • Written and oral communication with Ministers or senior officials.


  • Balancing priorities with limited supervision and timely escalation of potential issues.


  • Stakeholder management, including external and x-HMG cooperation.


  • Experience of fast paced environment would be beneficial.


  • Showing initiative to horizon scan to identify future threats and opportunities, in or outside own area of responsibility.


  • Understanding and consideration of cultural sensitivity.


  • An interest in export policy, defence and security sectors, and international relations.

Person Specification 

  • See how your role fits within wider geographical and thematical HMG objectives, and strive to ensure that work maximises contribution to national objectives.


  • Ability to communicate quality advice in an accessible and succinct manner to Ministers and senior officials.


  • Developing and managing stakeholder relationships, including with industry, key advisers, Whitehall, and foreign customers/embassies, by recognising individual interests and objectives, and adjusting accordingly.


  • Developing options and approaches to manage risks and issues identified outlining costs, benefits, risks and proposed courses of action.


  • Ability to produce high-quality work in a quick timeframe, and to perform well under pressure when faced with an ever-adapting task.


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

  • Communicating and Influencing
  • Working Together
  • Seeing the Big Picture
  • Making Effective Decisions
  • Delivering at Pace

We only ask for evidence of these behaviours on your application form:

  • 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.


Application instructions

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