Advert. No. 2020_0053
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 projects 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.


Within the Executive Office of the Director General at the Headquarters in Garching near Munich, Germany, ESO is advertising the position of

Council Secretary/ Administrative Assistant


Vacancy closed on 30/11/2020

Deadline 30/11/2020

Under the direct authority of the Head of the Executive Office of the Director General, you will be responsible for the preparation and administrative support of meetings of the highest statutory body of the Organisation, the ESO Council, as well as of other high level ESO Committees. You will also support ESO Senior Management committees. The position requires occasional international travel, mainly within Europe or to Chile.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Support the organisation of the meetings of the Council and various affiliated Council advisory bodies;
  • Provide administrative support services to the Council President and act as contact point for, and provide information to, the Council delegates and the members of various affiliated Council advisory bodies;
  • Prepare agendas for these meetings;
  • Coordinate logistics of the meetings at ESO Headquarters in Germany and abroad (mainly Europe and Chile);
  • Draft, and distribute Council-related documents and correspondence;
  • Produce minutes and summaries as well as the follow-up of action items;
  • Act as back-up to the Finance Committee Secretary with respect to minute taking;
  • Provide support for regular senior management meetings; and
  • Maintain a detailed filing and document management system including a contact details database.

The above responsibilities are not exhaustive and a flexible approach and willingness to adapt to unexpected needs and perform further general administrative tasks is essential.

Key Competences and Experience

Essential Competences and Experience:

  • Several years of working experience in a position providing support to a Board or at Director/Senior Management level, preferably in an international working environment;
  • Experience in organising meetings, taking minutes, balancing conflicting demands and priorities and managing a busy work load within strict deadlines;
  • Strong multi-tasking and organisational skills;
  • High level commitment, diplomacy and absolute discretion;
  • Clear and effective writing skills and the ability to provide clear, concise and timely oral and written communications;
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills with friendly and service oriented attitude. Ability to interact effectively with member state delegations, colleagues at all levels and external contacts;
  • The ability to research, analyse, summarize and present information in a clear and logical manner;
  • Good knowledge and experience of using Microsoft Office applications (MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams etc.);
  • Ability to work both on your own initiative and within teams in an international and multicultural environment.

Desirable Competences and Experience:

  • Willingness to acquire new skills, keep up-to-date with the tools used in the daily work, adapt to new procedures and to identify ways to optimize the workflow;
  • Experience with Enterprise Resource Planning applications;
  • Ability to rapidly understand and adapt to ESO specific context and environment.


You must have completed secondary school education and obtained a secretarial/administration diploma.

Language Skills:

The position requires fluent English, both written and oral. Basic knowledge of German or Spanish would be an advantage.

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 daycare.

ESO aims to support members of personnel in maintaining a good work-life balance ( between their professional and private life. ESO is also committed to offering family-friendly support (, creating a work environment and policies which allow staff to balance their professional and private responsibilities through flexible working arrangements and financial support for families.

The contract is for a fixed term duration of three years, and is subject to successful completion of the probation period. There is 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 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: III


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 at Applications must be completed in English and should include a motivation letter and CV. Within your CV, please provide the names and contact details of three persons 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 30 November 2020.

Interviews are expected to be held soon afterwards

ESO has established diversity as an important value of the Organisation, is committed to providing an equal opportunities environment and is actively seeking to promote a diverse and inclusive workforce.

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

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