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In the Spotlight with Competition and Markets Authority’s Digital Markets Unit, working towards greater competition and innovation in digital markets.

At Manchester Digital, we like to interview our members to find out a bit more about what they do and their work in the Greater Manchester digital and technology sphere. This week we're speaking with Aaron Khan, Assistant Director in the Competition and Markets Authority's Digital Markets Unit (DMU), based in Greater Manchester.

What does your organisation do? Explain the role of CMA and Digital Markets Unit (DMU)? 

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is the UK’s competition and consumer regulator. Ensuring fair competition and well-functioning markets, so innovative businesses thrive, and consumers benefit with real choice and value for money; is at the heart of what we do. Alongside promoting competition, we help people and businesses by tackling unfair behaviour like unfair terms and misleading, false claims. 

The Digital Markets Unit (DMU) is a new unit within the CMA which aims to promote greater competition and innovation in digital markets. It will oversee and enforce a new pro-competition regime for a small group of the most powerful digital firms. This regime is being put in place via legislation which was introduced to Parliament last month, called the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill.  

The powers included in the Bill will give the CMA the ability to work in a faster and more targeted way to improve competition and foster opportunities for innovation in digital markets. For example, they will allow the CMA to set targeted and proportionate conduct requirements for the most powerful digital firms to ensure other businesses aren’t at risk of being exploited and excluded, and to safeguard users against unfair terms and constrained choices. 


Tell us about your role in the Digital Markets Unit and how you have found your move to the CMA’s Manchester office? 

I am currently an Assistant Director in the Digital Markets Unit. I work in a team which supports and advises government on establishing the new pro-competition regime for digital markets. The team and I work with colleagues across the CMA – including economists, lawyers and data specialists – to provide key insights to government to inform decisions about the shape of the regime.  

What I enjoy about working in the DMU is that the work is fascinating and high profile. I am also very fortunate to work with excellent colleagues: we are a friendly and supportive team, passionate about making a difference through our work in digital markets. We have some exciting upcoming opportunities to work in the DMU (I’ve mentioned these below)! 

I recently moved from London to Manchester. Before moving, my wife and I were already regular visitors as my wife is Manchester born and raised, and I’m enjoying working in the city and exploring as it’s a great place with a vibrant atmosphere. We’ve moved back to be closer to family as we have our first child on the way, and we’re really looking forward to raising our family here. I work from home on some days and on the other days will head into the CMA’s Manchester office. The office is well located and it is great to be able to catch up with other colleagues in person.  


What plans does the CMA (including the DMU) have to expand regionally?  

I think this is an exciting time to join the CMA and the Digital Markets Unit. We offer the opportunity to influence the shape of future regulation of digital markets.  

The DMU is currently hiring for a range of roles to support our work to prepare for the new regime. We recently launched recruitment for 20 roles  – available across all our offices in the UK, including Manchester – more information about these roles are available here: Join the CMA’s Digital Markets Unit (applications for this round close between 6 – 14 June 2023) 

After this round of recruitment closes, we would still like to hear from those interested in working in the DMU. If this might be you or someone who you think might be interested, please Sign up here. 

More broadly, the CMA is committed to the Government’s Places for Growth agenda, looking to recruit and retain talented colleagues right across the UK. The CMA has recently established our new Digital Hub in Manchester, in which we hope to have 200 staff by 2025. We have also recently opened an office in Darlington, and have an increased presence in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh.  


What experience and skills are you seeking and how can you find out more?  

We want to hear from people with a diverse range of backgrounds and skills – people who may have experience working in digital markets, or using data and technology, or may have research, policy, regulatory, project management, legal or economics skills. There is no shortage of interesting roles! 

Outside of our current expansion of the DMU, the CMA has a lot of teams working in exciting fields and we are seeking skills and experience in a range of areas including law, economics, policy, regulation and administration. You can find out more on our Careers Pages or LinkedIn Life Pages 


What are the latest developments and work relating to digital markets in the CMA? 

Digital markets are important to the CMA, we identified them as an area of focus in our Annual Plan, and we are already doing a lot work in this sphere. For example, we are currently investigating Apple’s conduct in relation to developers’ access to the App Store and overseeing the implementation of remedies agreed with Google in relation to online privacy 

We are also working at the cutting edge of digital technology, for instance, together with our colleagues in the CMA’s Data, Technology and Analytics Unit we recently announced a review of artificial intelligence models 

Furthermore, our consumer protection work on fake online reviews and on hidden advertising by social media influencers are examples of how our work in digital markets benefit consumers by tackling behaviours that harm them directly. 


Why has the CMA decided to expand into Manchester? 

The CMA recognises that Greater Manchester is a dynamic region, which represents a diverse cross-section of business industry types (from digital to tourism/hospitality, rural to urban). In particular, the region has an exciting digital sector and great academic institutions which are producing important research in this field. We look forward to continuing engagement in the region.   


Tell us something that we might not know about your company?  

The CMA is a non-ministerial government department and therefore part of the Civil Service, meaning employees benefit from a wide range of employee benefits, including: Civil Service Pension scheme, generous annual leave entitlement and flexible working among other benefits. 

Thank you Aaron!

To find out more about the Competition and Markets Authority, click here.

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