After building a successful career as a Ministry of Defence Civil Servant, Giles Moore decided to take some time out to pursue a personal passion in which he wrote and published his own book. Looking to return 5 years later he was finding it increasingly difficult to obtain interviews due to his career break. Following a successful placement, Giles has just accepted a permanent position in the Platform Systems Division at DSTL. Here is his story:
Why did you become a STEM returner?
I’d been a technologist throughout my career, although people didn’t use that word: I was a network engineer, programmer, C4i intelligence analyst and systems/technical manager, mostly for the government. I left my last job because I wanted to pursue a personal goal that I knew would take several years, not because I wasn’t interested in the career track I was on, so naturally I wanted to return. I was really impressed by the advert I saw for the STEM Returners programme, which showed so much understanding, and I was already interested in working for Dstl, which was one of the organisations offering placements.
What were you doing before?
I was writing a book that’s partly about the use of technology by past artists, and partly about an art concept I made up. It includes a canon of proportions – a wireframe computer-aided design for a realistic humanoid – that I spent years developing in my spare time. After publishing it I wanted to start collaborating with animators and humanoid robotics engineers, but it’s been difficult to initiate that because I haven’t been able to afford to really promote the book.
Describe your role in the placement and how you have found the experience?
My team leader gave me time to explore the organisation’s systems, build new relationships and come up with ideas of how I could contribute, and gave me the opportunity to present my thoughts to the team at about the halfway point. I thought the best way to contribute was to work on knowledge -graph development because subject matter experts are always too busy to work on that sort of thing, and I think it’s important. It’s been a great experience.
What do you hope to achieve in the future?
I’m interested in how artificial intelligence (AI) will be used to counter the threats we all face, such as dangerous AI, global warming, aging, diseases, crime, pollution, overfishing, war, terrorism, narcotics, cybercrime, economic mismanagement, and scarcity of resources in general. Dstl is an environment where people don’t roll their eyes when you talk about these things.
Would you recommend STEM returning to others?
Yes. It’s been really good to be labelled ‘STEM Returner’ because everyone understands you’re returning, you need a little time to adjust, but you do have relevant experience. The placement gives you time to both adjust and show your experience, you’re continually championed and you’re returning with people who are going through the same experience. It’s been great having a support network. The placement also gives you time to discover what you really want to do in the organisation.