Advert. no. 2021_0019
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.


Within its Maintenance, Support and Engineering Department (MSE) at the La Silla Paranal Observatory, within the Directorate of Operations, ESO is advertising an International Staff member position of:

Optics Group Leader


Vacancy closed on 31/10/2021

Deadline 31/10/2021

See the ESO engineers podcast at:

The successful applicant will be the Leader of the Optics (optical engineering) Group, currently comprised of 6 engineers and 5 technicians and responsible for all telescope optics at the Paranal Observatory, as well as deeply involved in the ELT mirror coating process, part of the Assembly Integration and Verification (AIV) phase of this new telescope.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

The selected candidate will have the following main duties:

As Optics Group Leader:

  • Manage the personnel of the group (performance evaluation, recruitment, training, etc.)
  • Prepare and monitor resource request (labor and non-labor) and allocation for the different activities and schedule the staff accordingly.
  • Ensure the performance of the group through KPIs.
  • Acts as the safety responsible for the Group.
  • Supports the observatory operation as Chief Operation Engineer (COE) amongst a pool of qualified staff.

As Optics Engineer:

  • 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 optical engineers at ESO headquarters and with the Support and Quality Assurance group (planning, spare parts, maintenance plan optimization, documentation, and quality control)

Support activities:

  • Execute performance analysis when needed
  • Assembly Integration and Verification of new systems and ensure the transfer of knowledge from project to the dedicated team
  • 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.


The ideal candidate has 5 to 10 years of professional experience in:

  • Management and/or coordination of a team
  • Optical systems maintenance in a continuous operational environment
  • Project and contract management

Key Competences:

The ideal candidate has several of the following competences (technical and soft):

  • Optical thin-film coatings production and maintenance
  • Optical metrology and alignment techniques
  • Advanced optical techniques like active optics, adaptive optics, interferometry
  • Lead with strength and credibility
  • Manage a team in a multinational and multi-cultural environment
  • Coach and supervise technical personnel
  • Constructively suggest improvements to work processes
  • Plan effectively and monitor progress of work, deliver results on time and to standards
  • Constructively address disagreement and manage conflict


University degree in Optics, Physics, or Engineering related to photonics.

Language Skills:

ESO is an international organization where the official language is English. It is required that the candidate has a good command of written and spoken English. Good knowledge of Spanish would 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 if needed.

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 may be a possibility of extension(s) subject to individual performance and organisational requirements. 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:

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, after a probation period with the appropriate shift scheme.

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 at Applications should include a motivation letter and CV in English. Interviews will be held in English.

Deadline for applications is 31 October 2021.

Interviews are expected to start soon after this date.

ESO has established diversity as an important value of the Organisation; it is committed to providing an equal opportunities environment and is actively seeking to promote a diverse and inclusive workforce. The post is equally open to suitably qualified candidates irrespective of nationality, gender, age, disability, ethnicity, or religion.

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.

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