Recognized as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 30, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Communications Security Establishment / CSE was selected as one of National Capital Region's Top Employers (2018):
- Communications Security Establishment helps employees plan securely for the future with contributions to a defined benefit pension plan and health benefits that extend to retirees (with no age limit) -- the organization also offers retirement planning assistance and phased-in work options
- Along with 3 weeks of starting vacation allowance, Communications Security Establishment encourages employees to achieve better work-life balance with a variety of flexible working arrangements and up to 8 paid personal days, which can be scheduled as needed
- Employees working at Communications Security Establishment's head office can take advantage of a variety of onsite amenities, including a quiet room for meditation and religious observance, an onsite cafeteria (with healthy and special diet menus), and free access to a fitness facility which features a basketball court and numerous instructor-led classes such as yoga, kickboxing and belly dancing
At CSE, protecting Canadian society is never dull
Carole Pierlot first heard of the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) as an undergraduate studying computer science at the University of New Brunswick.
Intrigued by the prospect of working in signals intelligence and hearing high praise of the work environment, Pierlot landed a co-op placement with CSE in 2003. "My two sisters had moved to Ottawa," she says, "so I lived with one of them for the term."
By the time she graduated in 2006, she'd completed three more work terms with the organization. She'd also met another co-op student who eventually became her husband. Together, they moved to Ottawa and went to work full-time for CSE.
Supported by about 80 to 100 co-op students in each of the fall, winter, and summer sessions, CSE's approximate 2,300 full-time employees apply their technological resources and expertise to gathering information through the global information infrastructure in order to generate intelligence related to terrorism and other threats to Canadian society.
As Canada's national cryptologic agency, CSE employs code-makers and code-breakers to provide foreign signals intelligence to the Canadian government and is also responsible for protecting government computer networks and networks of importance. Furthermore, it provides advice, guidance, and services to other government departments to help protect information of importance to Canada. The agency also provides technical and operational assistance to federal law enforcement and security agencies.
Starting as a programmer, Pierlot saw a wealth of opportunity at CSE to advance. Through formal and informal networking, she pursued a series of assignments, most recently as Executive Assistant and Business Analyst with the Director General of Cyber-Defence.
"This is an interesting, demanding, and leading-edge organization," says Shelly Bruce, CSE's Deputy Chief for Signals Intelligence. "Mathematicians, engineers, linguists, computer scientists and cryptanalysts all working together to solve complex problems."
After more than 10 years with CSE, Pierlot often represents the organization as a recruiter at job fairs and university events. "I love talking about CSE," she says. "For anyone in engineering or computer science, this is the place to be. You're not just keeping up, you're also trying to think ahead."
Like Pierlot, Bruce has never lost her enthusiasm for CSE. Joining the organization in 1989 after obtaining her master's degree in Slavic Studies from the University of Toronto, Bruce was immediately impressed by the skill, commitment and dedication of its staff.
"What we do really matters," she says. "I can honestly say that, after 28 years here, I've never had a dull day."
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 8, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Communications Security Establishment / CSE was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2018):
- Communications Security Establishment created a Young Professionals Network to provide support and a collective voice for young employees -- the network hosts a number of events throughout the year including an annual Career Tradeshow, an open-house career expo for employees from across the organization to learn about training and professional development opportunities
- Additionally, the network helped create a dedicated recruitment strategy for young people and organized the "Take Me With You" program to encourage managers and senior leaders to give junior employees the opportunity to participate in high-level meetings
It may be classified, but CSE's job really matters
For obvious reasons, employees of Canada's Communications Security Establishment (CSE) can't discuss in much detail their assignments within the organization. But even though a CSE software developer named Jason can't talk about what he does, he highly recommends CSE as a place to do it.
"I get a chance to work with leading-edge technology," says Jason, whose security clearance also doesn't allow him to provide his last name for publication. "You get to work with the best and the brightest."
Reporting to the Minister of National Defence, CSE is a stand-alone intelligence agency that includes approximately 2,300 full-time staff. The agency applies its technological resources and the expertise of computer scientists, mathematicians, linguists and cryptanalysts to collect and analyze foreign signals intelligence. Many of these same skill sets are applied to CSE's cyber defence and information assurance mission, providing advice, guidance, and services to government departments to help protect Canada's most sensitive information and systems.
CSE is also authorized to provide technical and operational assistance to federal law enforcement and security agencies, like CSIS and RCMP, in the performance of their lawful duties.
"We have a unique mandate," says Shelly Bruce, Deputy Chief for Signals Intelligence.
Forbidden by law from targeting Canadians or anyone in Canada, CSE teams direct their activities at foreign intelligence targets outside Canada and generate intelligence about terrorist and other threats to Canada and Canadians Likewise, CSE's cyber defence and information assurance mission teams conduct vital work building techniques to protect Canadian networks. Together these teams are considered, among peers in the international security and intelligence community, to have a solid reputation for operational and technical excellence.
According to Bruce, who joined CSE in 1989 with a master's degree in Slavic studies from the University of Toronto, CSE has become more forthcoming in discussing its contribution to Canada's national security activities. "For the first 65 years of our existence we kept ourselves under a rock," she says.
Bruce first heard of the organization when she spotted a poster on the wall of the Modern Languages Department at university. "It was advertised as an element of National Defence," she says, but in those pre-Internet days, she couldn't find much more information about CSE until she was hired.
"Our world has changed and we can no longer operate entirely in the shadows," Bruce says, "and we've become more comfortable talking about our mission."
This candour has helped CSE in recruiting "the best and the brightest," she says. "We've found more innovative ways to advertise through our own website, for instance, and through academic engagements."
Compared to many other organizations, CSE still maintains a low profile. "I'd actually never heard of it," says Jason, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in computer science. "I found out about the organization when I entered the CS Games, an inter-university social computing competition, and met a CSE recruiter."
For young professionals like Jason, CSE presents a wealth of choices to develop their technical and leadership skills. "We offer strong internal training, mentoring and coaching programs," Bruce says. "We also take a focused approach to succession planning."
Through a program called Take Me With You, managers and senior leaders introduce junior employees to high-level meetings at the CSE. About 10 per cent of CSE's junior staff is also involved in the organization's Young Professionals Network. "They're smart, dedicated and passionate about what they do," says Bruce.
Impressed by the opportunities not just to work with advanced technology, but also to advance his own career, Jason joined CSE about a year ago. Since then, his work with a team of CSE experts has also impressed him with the critical importance of their operations.
"What we do really matters," he says.