Simon Cholerton joined the Ministry of Defence (MOD) in 1993 after completing his PhD in Physics at Cambridge University. His career has spanned defence research, international relations, operational policy and equipment acquisition policy.
In 1996 he became Private Secretary to the Under Secretary of State and later, as head of MOD’s Middle East Section, he was heavily involved in preparations for the Iraq War in 2003. He spent six months in Baghdad working as a Policy Adviser.
In 2008 Simon was promoted into the senior civil service as Senior Finance Officer for MOD’s Science and Technology Top Level Budget, before heading the Equipment Capability Secretariat. He played a key role supporting the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review co-authoring the main Maritime Study and leading a separate review of anti-submarine warfare.
In 2011 he became Chief of Staff at Defence Equipment and Support, on promotion to 2 star, with responsibilities including communications, international relations, infrastructure and security. In 2013 he moved on loan to UK Trade and Investment as Operations Director for its Defence and Security organisation.
Simon returned to MOD in April 2016 as Director, Defence Science and Technology. He has led the way implementing MOD’s Science and Technology Capability Review and more broadly driving change to enable technology-led modernisation as part of the Modernising Defence Programme.
Simon was appointed as MOD’s interim Chief Scientific Adviser on 27 August 2018, a role he had previously covered for 9 months.
Simon spent four years as MOD’s LGBT Champion, the first out gay man to take on such a role in defence. He enjoys skiing, spends too much time at the gym and listening to Radio 4.
MOD Chief Scientific Adviser
The Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) is MOD’s principal adviser on science and technology, with responsibility for directing research through the MOD’s core S&T research portfolio. The CSA reports to the Permanent Secretary, is a member of the Joint Requirements Oversight Committee (JROC) and the Investment Approvals Committee, and is Co-Chair of the Research Technology and Innovation Board (RTIB).
The MOD Chief Scientific Adviser is responsible for:
- ownership of MOD’s core S&T research portfolio which keeps the armed forces at the cutting edge of new technological developments
- heading the defence science and technology area in MOD
- advising ministers and senior officials on science and engineering matters
- international strategic science and technology collaboration
- support to procurement activities
- working with the wider community of chief scientific advisers on cross departmental matters
The MOD Chief Scientific Adviser (Nuclear) post is currently held by Professor Robin Grimes.