Category: Employer Focus, Engineering, Opportunity, economic, career journey, electrical, attraction
Steve Jones, Senior Spectrum Engineer, is sadly leaving Ofcom this week having been with us since Ofcom’s creation. Before he goes, he shares his career journey from electrical and radio engineering to spectrum economics at Ofcom.
What first attracted you to a role at Ofcom?
I was attracted by the opportunity to develop spectrum economics here at Ofcom and get its importance to spectrum management recognised. I was also attracted to the bigger, longer-term goal of fundamentally reforming how spectrum is managed.
Can you tell us a little bit about your first role and what your aspirations were?
I started in Stanmore at the electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) laboratory, then part of the Department of Trade, back in 1984/5. My first role was to manage the development of new EMC measurement methods so that we could measure all types of radio interference with more accuracy and certainty.
How did you progress to where you are now?
I led a number of successful research projects over an eight year period. Then for about nine years I was responsible for mobile satellite and aeronautical services for the Radiocommunications Agency. During this exciting and productive period I led for the UK and Europe on satellite issues at two World Radio Conferences (WRCs) and with the world’s preparations for WRC-2000.
With a young and growing family I decided to make the switch from international work to domestic spectrum policy and spectrum auctions. From 2000 to 2003 I directed the first broadband auction of spectrum licences for 3.4 GHz and, after joining Ofcom, I led the 1.7 GHz ‘All Ireland’ spectrum award – the first auction to be run simultaneously by two European administrations. This was followed by more spectrum economics work for Ofcom and a secondment to the Ministry of Defence to lead the implementation of the Independent Spectrum Audit for government and reform spectrum management across the public sector.
I returned to Ofcom in 2010 to lead the spectrum planning for the London 2012 Olympics and also took on the chairmanship of NATO’s spectrum policy committee. For about the last 3 years I’ve been back in space leading our international regulatory and technical studies on satellite issues for WRC-19.
What opportunities were most beneficial to your progression?
Without doubt the decision to take on a second professional discipline, adding economics to electrical and radio engineering. This has given me a different perspective on spectrum management that led directly to the secondment at MOD and the opportunity to reform public sector spectrum management. I’m also very proud to have led two spectrum auctions.
What are your aspirations for the future?
The next phase of my career will give me the challenge of leading spectrum management for a UK-based satellite company and delivering new broadband services to consumers across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the USA.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to broaden their experience and skills during their time at Ofcom?
Take every opportunity to broaden the skills you have outside what you have formally trained for. If you are an engineer for example, think about adding legal or economic skills. A cross-disciplinary approach can lead to real innovation and change and give you wonderful opportunities to advance.
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