News Article

Recognising and supporting talent

Last Updated: 16 Aug 2016
GCHQ was delighted to co-sponsor this year’s Rare Rising Stars awards which honour the UK’s best black students.

News article: 18 July 2016

GCHQ was delighted to co-sponsor this year’s Rare Rising Stars awards, presented on 14 July in the House of Commons. These awards honour the UK’s best black students, and this year – as every year – the line-up was truly exceptional.   


Students holding their awards
©Bill Knight 2016


We sponsored the awards this year because we believe it is important to support and recognise talent in the UK.  A diverse workforce is also absolutely crucial to our work at GCHQ.  Our own Director recently said: “To do our job, which is solving some of the hardest technology problems the world faces for security reasons, we need all talents and we need people who dare to think differently and be different… it is in mixing (different backgrounds) together that you get the creativity and innovation we desperately need.”   

Each Rare Rising Stars finalist’s story was both inspiring and humbling but in the end, Ndakuna Fonso Amidou beat off stiff competition from the other nine finalists to be named overall winner, impressing the panel of judges with his personal story, which started in a village in Cameroon.  

After one of his brothers started paying for his education, he excelled at school and dreamed of being an engineer.  His brother offered him the chance to join him in London and Ndakuna started by working hard as a mental health nurse for five years, before earning a place to study Engineering at Brunel University.  In order to overcome the issue of funding (due to his visa and residential status), for three years Ndakuna worked 40 hours a week in night shifts whilst studying full time. As well as achieving a first-class degree, he received an Engineering and Technology Award. 

He went on to found a healthcare clinic in Cameroon with his own money and has continued to win awards, including a Junior Assistant Engineering Award at Motorola and the Star Award at Vodafone.  He was offered a prestigious scholarship to study an MSc/ MBA and became the first Cameroonian ever to be admitted to the Oxford Internet Institute.  What incredible tenacity and talent, and a thoroughly deserving winner.    

We are also very proud of our growing partnership with Rare.  Rare specialise in identifying talented students from BME and socially disadvantaged backgrounds; helping them to achieve their potential, realise their aspirations, and - the ultimate aim - match them with their employers of choice. 

Here at GCHQ we’re making great efforts to attract talented individuals from all backgrounds and walks of life to ensure we reflect the society we serve and that we have a variety of thinking and experiences to help us solve some of the hardest problems Britain has ever faced. We offer variety - all sorts of careers for all sorts of people.  We offer development and progression opportunities and top-class terms and conditions. We offer all of that in order to attract the very best talent.  

And that’s why we work with Rare. Not only to support them in the excellent and important work they do, but so they can help us attract the very best, the ‘rising stars’.  As Rare themselves put it, they ‘help the best employers in the world build workforces of brilliant people that reflect society’s diversity’. We are delighted to work in partnership with them to help achieve this aim.  

Finally, our congratulations once again to all ten finalists and especially to the winner, Ndakuna.  


The Recruitment & Diversity Team at GCHQ