just to kind of tie this up; I'm keeping it for the time being. I've trimmed it back on whats in those pics, and heavily shaped the chin and jaw area with scissors so it's squarer and contours my face rather than rounding it. the neck is most certainly shaved with a sharp line. It is patchy around the cheeks, but I don't think it's so bad, and if I keep it for another 2-3 years I think it will be quite dark and full around there, given how it has darkened up in the last 1-2 (I'm only 23 as a reference).
On the comment re a more conservative haircut; I've also gone even shorter on top when I trimmed the beard, and think it looks cleaner and neater, but before I start the job at the end of november I will grow it right out so I can do something a touch more classic looking. I spent a good couple of years doing a side part (with clean shaven face) and think it looks fine, but in keeping with the slightly edgier facial hair, and just to try something new, I'm probably going to give a straight back slightly slicked look a go (and probably end up looking massively german with my blonde locks).
and finally, to the negative comment regarding listening to my girlfriends opinion; if I think the beard is every getting in the way of promotions it will go very fast, but in the meantime I've gotten the job by impressing upon people that I'm eminently capable, the very people who will dole out any promotions I receive for at least the next 3 years. So, since the beard isn't hindering me, and given that I still completely wear the pants in the relationship, why wouldn't I listen to her opinion on my looks as a kindness?