Advert. No. 2019_0006
Working at ESO

Are you interested in working in areas of frontline technology and in a stimulating international environment? Do you feel your profile matches our requirements? Learn more about our current vacancies and apply online. Read more..

The European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO) is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world's most productive ground-based astronomical observatory. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries.

ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in northern Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor (home to ALMA and APEX), and the ESO Headquarters are located in Garching, near Munich, Germany.

At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world's most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, ESO is building the 39-metre Extremely Large Telescope, which will become "the world's biggest eye on the sky" and whose operations will be fully integrated into the Paranal Observatory.

Within its Maintenance, Support and Engineering Department at the Paranal Observatory, ESO is opening an International Staff member position as:

Electronics and Electrical Group Leader


Vacancy closed on 10/04/2019

Deadline 10/04/2019

The selected applicant will be Group Leader of the Electronics and Electrical Group within the Maintenance, Support and Engineering (MSE) Department at the Paranal site of the La Silla Paranal Observatory.

The MSE Department of the Paranal Observatory with a workforce of 80 engineers and technicians provides maintenance and technical support to the four 8m VLT telescopes, the VLT Interferometer with its auxiliary telescopes, the VST and VISTA survey telescopes and to all instruments available for scientific observations. Astronomical instruments are large, complex facilities involving advanced technologies in the fields of optics, precision mechanics, electronics, cryogenics, detector acquisition systems and software.

The Electronics and Electrical Group is comprised of 16 engineers and technicians and is responsible for all telescope electronics, site electrical distribution and backup power generation, and other miscellaneous systems like the site atmospheric monitoring equipment at the Paranal Observatory.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

The selected candidate will have the following main duties:

As Electronics and Electrical Group Leader:

  • Manage the team (performance evaluation, recruitment, training);
  • Prepare and monitor FTE request and allocation for the different activities and schedule the staff accordingly;
  • Prepare and follow up the annual budget;
  • Ensure the performance of the team through KPIs;
  • Supervise the electronics work package manager (a member of the group) looking after the outsourced maintenance services;
  • Acts as the safety responsible for the Group
  • Supports the observatory operation as Chief Operation Engineer
  • Participate in developing and implementing strategies for the Department in view of future needs of the observatory

As Electronics Engineer:

  • For operations, have the technical responsibility of one or more systems:
  • Be responsible of all maintenance activities (corrective and planned) and obsolescence analysis
  • Ensure the availability of the systems according to specification
  • Propose and implement change requests (analysis, design, implementation, commissioning, documentation)
  • Interact with the electronics engineers at ESO headquarters and with the Support and Quality Assurance group (planning, spare parts, maintenance plan optimization, documentation and quality control)
  • Development and Support activities:
  • Lead projects required to improve operations
  • Assembly, Integration and Verification of new systems and ensure the transfer of knowledge from project to the dedicated team
  • Support development of future projects like ELT and CTA
  • Any critical Paranal observatory activities for which your competencies are requested by your manager

Reports to:

The Head of the Maintenance, Support and Engineering Department. Suitable candidates could also be considered for the Deputy role of the Head of Department in the future.


The ideal candidate has a few years of experience of line management of a team, and several years of professional experience in:

  • Industrial and/or scientific equipment operations and maintenance, and ideally astronomical observatory environment;
  • System engineering and project management
  • A wide range of analog and digital electronics and electrical applications like: motion control, servo control and PLC systems, precision sensors, power generation and distribution.

Key Competences:

  • Lead with strength and credibility;
  • Effective interpersonal and communication skills toward the team, peers and upper management;
  • Constructively address disagreement and manage conflict.
  • Generate energy and commitment toward the ESO mission and goals;
  • Manage a team in a multinational and multicultural environment;
  • Coach team in engineering and technical aspects to ensure the requested competences are available;
  • Pro-actively suggest improvements to work processes;
  • Plan effectively and monitor progress of work, deliver results on time and to standards;


University degree in electronics engineering or equivalent engineering field.

Language Skills:

The position requires excellent oral and written communication skills in English, and ideally in Spanish as well.

Remuneration and Contract:

We offer an attractive remuneration package including a competitive salary, comprehensive pension scheme and medical, educational and other social benefits, as well as financial help in relocating your family and the possibility to place your child/children in daycare. The contract is for a fixed-term period of three years, which can be extended for no more than two additional three-year periods (up to a total of 9 years). Consideration for a contract of indefinite duration may be given after a minimum of 4 years of service, based on operational needs and qualification of the staff member.

Duty Station:

Paranal Observatory located 120 km south of the city of Antofagasta, Chile. The working schedule will be 8 days on duty and 6 days off duty (8x6) with accommodation provided on site.

Career Path:



If you are interested in working in areas of frontline technology and in a stimulating international environment, please visit ( for further details. Applicants are invited to apply online via our recruitment portal Applications must be completed in English and should include a motivation letter and your CV.

Closing date for applications is 10 April 2019

No nationality is in principle excluded however, recruitment preference will be given to nationals of Australia, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden , Switzerland and the United Kingdom irrespective of gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, race or religion.

Contact us