Advert. No. 2020_0020
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, and will host and operate the southern array of the Cherenkov Telescope Array, the world's largest and most sensitive high energy gamma-ray 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 (ELT), which will become "the world's biggest eye on the sky" and whose operations will be fully integrated into the Paranal Observatory.


For its User Support Department within the Directorate of Operations at its Headquarters in Garching, near Munich, Germany, ESO is advertising the position of

Visiting Astronomer Travel Coordinator - Administrative Assistant


Vacancy closed on 03/07/2020

Deadline 03/07/2020

The Office of the Data Management and Operations Division provides administrative support for approximately 50 staff members within the division and hosts a User Support Department (USD) in charge of providing support to users of ESO's astronomical observatories. The Visiting Astronomer Travel Office, located within the USD, is an important interface between ESO and its community. The VA Travel Office is responsible for organising the travel arrangements for the Visiting Astronomers who travel to ESO's observatories (La Silla, Paranal and APEX), which accounts for approximately 600 trips per year.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

The overall function of the role is to handle and coordinate travel arrangements between ESO's Visiting Astronomers and staff with the in-house travel agency plus liaise with relevant personnel responsible for logistics at the observatory sites in Chile.

  • Creation, maintenance and publication of the list of astronomers travelling to the sites of the ESO observatories using dedicated tools.
  • Timely maintenance of documentation available to Visiting Astronomers for the preparation of their trip to the ESO observatories, including maintenance of a dedicated web site.
  • Management of the ESO budget devoted to the travels of Visiting Astronomers and subsequent reporting.
  • Preparation of purchase orders and internal financial commitments.
  • Support of the organization of meetings and workshops for the users community including oversight and assistance of logistics and practical details before, during and after meetings, as well as budget management.
  • Provision of assistance to staff within the Data Management & Operations with day-to-day administrative tasks and coverage during the absence of other administrative support.

The above responsibilities are not exhaustive and a flexible approach and willingness to adapt to unexpected needs is required.

Reports to:

Head of the Operations Support Group inside the User Support Department.

Key Competences and Experience:

Demonstrated experience (min 3 years) as administrative assistant in an international environment is required. Past responsibility in coordinating and managing international travel arrangements for a large number of corporate travellers will be an asset.

Successful applicants for this position shall possess the following key competences and past experience:

  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills with a friendly and service-oriented attitude;
  • Ability to build strong and effective links with other teams and external partners, optimising communication flows between Garching and Chile and between ESO and its community;
  • Demonstrated familiarity with common office desktop and dedicated web applications, including a content management system;
  • Proven ability to handle and manage budgets;
  • Capacity to provide clear, concise and timely oral and written communications, identifying the key issues, examining options and proposing a way ahead; act and react quickly when confronted with unexpected situations or challenges;
  • Able to make decisions in an objective and fair way, within ESO rules and boundaries.

The successful candidate will have an extended period of overlap to enable comprehensive training.


Secondary school education and a secretarial/administration diploma or equivalent.

Language skills:

The position requires an excellent working knowledge of English (oral and written). Communication skills in Spanish will be an asset.

Remuneration and Contract:

We offer an attractive remuneration package including a competitive salary (tax free), 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 day care.

The contract is for a fixed term duration of three years, and is subject to successful completion of the probation period. There may be a possibility of extension(s) subject to individual performance and organisational requirements, and as defined in the applicable policies and staff rules and regulations. For any further information, please visit ESO's conditions of employment Please note that the contract policy and in particular the regulations concerning fixed-term and indefinite contracts are currently under review which may lead to changes in the contractual conditions applicable to this position.

Duty Station:

Garching near Munich, Germany.

Career Path: II


If you are interested in working in areas of frontline science and technology and in a stimulating international environment, please visit for further details.

Applicants are invited to apply online at Applications must be completed in English and should include a motivation letter and CV. Within your CV, please provide the name and contact details of a person familiar with your work and willing to provide a recommendation letter upon request. Referees will not be contacted without your prior consent.

Deadline for applications is 3 July 2020

Interviews are expected to start soon after this date.

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, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Chile irrespective of gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, race or religion.

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