Advert. No. 2021_0014
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 facilities 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.


Due to the need for additional resources to support the ELT and other projects within the the Directorate of Programmes at its Headquarters in Garching, near Munich, Germany, ESO is advertising the position of

Project Controller


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Deadline 06/08/2021

This is an excellent opportunity for professionals who have experience in project control and project management within scientific projects and who wish to play a key role in large international projects. The selected candidate will become part of the new Project Planning and Control Office which will come into effect in Q3/Q4 2021 within the Directorate of Programmes.

The Project Controller will be responsible for supporting a number of Project Managers within the Directorate of Programmes with all activities related to project cost, schedule and risk management, project management processes and administrative functions for the development of complex state of the art unique projects.

Main Duties and Responsibilities

  • Preparing project budgets and consolidating resource plans;
  • Managing project fund commitments, performing budget implementation and year-end closure exercises;
  • Maintaining project procurement plans in close collaboration with Finance and Contracts and Procurement departments;
  • Supporting the preparation of ESO's long term financial plan (this includes medium/long term affordability analysis and scenario analysis);
  • Monitoring the performances (cost, schedule, risks) of both ESO internal activities and contracts under the supervision of the relevant Programme/Project Manager. This includes application of Earned Value Management techniques, development of ad-hoc KPIs and Scorecards;
  • Supporting the preparation of Call for Tender packages and the negotiation process with selected bidders;
  • Maintaining the detailed programmes/projects schedules in close collaboration with the Project Managers (this includes schedule roll-up, critical path analysis, cross dependencies monitoring, milestones trend analysis);
  • Delivering a variety of reports (status report, trend analysis, etc.) to the relevant programmes/projects stakeholders;
  • Contributing to the preparation of reports dedicated to ESO's governing bodies;
  • Maintaining Planning and Controlling best practices and ensure related implementation across ESO projects;
  • Supporting Risk Management process within the Department of Programmes (this includes regular update of a risk register, cost and schedule impact analysis, Monte Carlo simulation).

The duties for this position are not limited to the above and a flexible approach together with a strong capacity to adapt is essential.

Reports to:

ELT Programme Controller

Key Competences and Experience

Essential Competences and Experience:

  • At least five years of working experience in a similar function with deep involvement in project control and project management preferably in the context of scientific projects;
  • Budgeting, cost control, scheduling and resources planning;
  • Project and risk management;
  • Solid knowledge of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and project planning/scheduling tools (e.g. Open Plan, MS Project, etc);
  • Proficient Microsoft Office skills (incl. advanced Excel);
  • Analytical and reporting skills;
  • Strong multi-tasking and organizational and time-management skills with ability to prioritize own activities;
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills;
  • Strong interpersonal skills and good teamworking skills;
  • Ability to rapidly acquire and process information from the various projects stakeholders and adapt to ESO specific context and environment including ESO's matrix structure.

Desirable Competences and Experience:

  • Experience as user of Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Deltek Open Plan and Atlassian JIRA would be an asset;
  • Pro-active approach to contribute ideas for improvement and future developments;
  • Ability to and experience of working efficiently within an international and multi-cultural environment both independently and within a team.


A Master's degree or engineering qualification or a degree in Business Administration is required.

Language Skills:

A very good command of the English language - verbal, reading and writing is essential and a working knowledge of 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, in particular for the ELT Programme, 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:

ESO Headquarters at Garching, near Munich. To execute the listed functions, some short term business trips to Chile might be required.

Career Path: IV / V


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 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.

Closing date for applications is extended until 6 August 2021

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, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and host state Chile irrespective of gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, race or religion.

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