Diamond Light Source Reviews

Updated February 4, 2015
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  1. Great place for a summer internship

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Intern - Summer Placement Student
    Former Intern - Summer Placement Student

    I worked at Diamond Light Source as an intern (less than a year)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    An incredibly exciting place to be as a young scientist. Good remuneration for an internship. Great training including bespoke programming and presentation training sessions. Opportunity to see other institutions on the Harwell campus. Very nice canteen and lovely atmosphere among the 30 or so interns.

    Cons

    Locations and transport links are very poor

    Advice to Management

    Expand the current internship programme - it's great!

  2. Excellent workplace for gaining work experience. I worked there as a summer student in the scientific software team.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern

    I worked at Diamond Light Source as an intern (less than a year)

    Recommends
    Recommends

    Pros

    Everyone was very welcoming and nice. They were always making sure that everything is alright and they would always help you if you needed it.
    For a student it was a great work-life balance
    Excellent organisation of the internship, many other activities with the other students, opportunities to socialise etc.

    Cons

    The location was the only con I can think of. (if you don't own a car). It's in the middle of nowhere
    The public transport in the area is horrible, buses are almost never on time and they don't respect the timetable

  3. Great organisation to work for, but there are issues with diversity, and also with progression.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Diamond Light Source full-time (more than 5 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    The work is genuinely interesting, it's a unique organisation in the UK
    The packages are pretty good, and there is flexible working and excellent benefits for parents.
    The organisation is big enough to provide challenges, but small enough to see the impact of your work.

    Cons

    Conditions vary hugely depending on who your manager is. That isn't how it should be.
    There is a very low percentage of female workers, and no real desire to change this.
    Performance and progression are managed badly, and there are limited opportunities to progress.

    Advice to Management

    Take diversity seriously, and tackle cultures which favour male employees or candidates over females.
    Think about the talent you have on board already and make sure it stays there.

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  5. Great place - if and ONLY if you are senior

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Scientist in Harwell, South East England, England (UK)
    Current Employee - Scientist in Harwell, South East England, England (UK)

    I have been working at Diamond Light Source full-time (more than 3 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    If you are a Principal beamline scientist or Group leader, you are allowed considerable freedom in running your little fiefdom. Some might say, too much.
    The working hours are decently flexible, though a bit dependent on your line manager.
    The offices around the ring are a great working environment.
    The site is likely to become the UK's main big science campus.
    May be a good choice for more junior staff if you're a non-EU citizen who wants residency in the UK.
    If you can get in the right group, a DLS postdoc position would be a good way of trying out the Big Facility lifestyle, which is different to a university.
    The new CEO seems to have fresh perspective.

    Cons

    I can only concur with some of the other reviewers. DLS is NOT a career destination for an ambitious young scientist. Early career researchers applying for beamline scientist/support scientist jobs should be aware that there is a sort of demographic bulge of staff above you in the 35-45 age group, who have started families and have no inclination to move on - this leads to a lot of stagnation in the scientist roles. It does happen, people do move up, but there is a strong tendency to parachute in external big hitters. In particular, the Support Scientist role should be avoided. It is not at all obvious from the job specifications on the website that this role is a dead end and potentially career ending for a young scientist.
    The Prinicipal beamline scientists are given considerable freedom in running their ship, and there is no standardisation or oversight from senior management. Some PBS' are excellent and natural born leaders, others should not be in a management position.
    Any engineers or programmers wishing to join DLS need to be aware that the PBS' are allowed to act as project managers. There are a number who may be academically gifted but may be a bit clueless in managing large projects. You will be expected to implement their orders, no matter how insane - you have been warned!!
    There is a union, although it appears to be fairly weak by public sector standards and consists mainly of people from technical rather than scientific background.
    In short, if you are a young scientist looking for that first permanent job, carry on looking. There's better opportunities that this. Give it a try as a postdoc though!

    Advice to Management

    We need much more oversight of the PBS' and group leaders. You seem to be well aware who the 'characters' are - their interesting behaviour doesn't benefit employees and it certainly doesn't benefit the users whose science we are supposed to enable!

  6. Den of enabling pen pushers and tyrants

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Didcot, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Didcot, England (UK)

    I worked at Diamond Light Source full-time (more than 3 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    Work/life balance can be good, working conditions are ok. Offices are nice and roomy, benefits are standard. Salaries are negotiable when you get in.

    Cons

    All the pros apply whenever you don't fall in some crazy supervisor's group, that is. Extremely hierarchal structure, with a few honorable exceptions, no room for internal real science, only collaborations with those users that want. The rest are "forced" to publish with the staff names.

    Advice to Management

    You know what needs to be done, you just don't want to do it in your term, better pass it along to the next director.

  7. Excellent place for academic learning and IT development

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Contractor - Software Developer in Oxford, England (UK)
    Former Contractor - Software Developer in Oxford, England (UK)

    I worked at Diamond Light Source as a contractor (more than 3 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    Initiative based approach and well managed team

    Cons

    Can get a little sidelined at times

  8. An ok place but static in job prospects

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Software Developer in Harwell, South East England, England (UK)
    Current Employee - Software Developer in Harwell, South East England, England (UK)

    I have been working at Diamond Light Source full-time (more than 5 years)

    Recommends
    Recommends

    Pros

    Flexible working, doing good in the world, doing some cutting edge things on site, free scientific lectures to employees, lowish pension contribution means salary not too bad. Secure employment, you almost certainly will not get fired however bad you are (this is also a con when you look at under-performing colleagues).

    Cons

    Pay is very limited and not performance based. Rather years service based, so you get people with little competence, unable to work elsewhere, able to progress to higher salaries/grades. This is unfair for product employees with less years service. No private health care, or any other financial rewards other than salary, which is low for the industry.

    Advice to Management

    You have to work within a civil service like salary framework. Try and reward people more for results than for loyalty. The institution is supposed to be doing some cutting edge research not featuring the nests of cuckoos.

  9. Helpful (1)

    A very static organisation.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Scientist in Didcot, England (UK)
    Current Employee - Scientist in Didcot, England (UK)

    I have been working at Diamond Light Source full-time (more than 8 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    Flexible work time, relatively stable job.
    The work itself is interesting and most colleagues are intelligent.
    The working environment is good and location is very good.
    Pension is not too bad at this moment but will get worse in the future.

    Cons

    No professional promotion route.
    Experience is not valued.
    Salary is low comparing to market.
    The management do not care about the staff's but only concentrate on their own salary and promotions.
    Lots of smart scientists have very bad personality, so be warned.

    Advice to Management

    The best scientists and engineer will leave if there is no professional promotion route. But as a public funded facility, I guess the management DO NOT CARE anyway.

  10. Helpful (1)

    A good place if you want a low pay but secure and permanent position.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Didcot, England (UK)
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Didcot, England (UK)

    I have been working at Diamond Light Source

    Pros

    Flexible working time. Job security. Good location. Less stree. Relativly good child support policy and not bad pension scheme (Similar to the civil servent's pension scheme).

    Cons

    Low pay. No rewards what ever your performance is. All senior management are from academic background so no real company level management skills. They treat scientists as post-doc in the universities, and they don't invest in staff. There is no promotion available if you are not a beamline scientist, and there is no grade upgrading or pay increment except the inflation adjustment. The only concern from the senior management seems to be finish the consturction "on time, on budget", so they can keep their post safe.

    Advice to Management

    Because you don't fire people in general, so If you also don't reward capable people, they will leave and eventually the company will be just full of craps.

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