Advert. no. 2022_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. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, we are 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.

Project Manager


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Deadline 11/06/2022

We are looking for a Project Manager to join our Project Management Department (PMD), within the Directorate of Programmes (DOP) at our Headquarters in Garching, near Munich, Germany,

The Project Management department comprises a group of more than 15 project managers leading a wide variety of projects that expand and strengthen the scientific and operational capabilities of our observatories in Chile. Your role will be to lead the development of astronomical instrumentation or Observatory sub-systems either for the ELT, the VLT or ALMA. These developments will enable scientists to answer key questions about the universe like understanding the nature of dark matter, or the study of Earth-like planets orbiting neighboring stars. In a very real sense you will contribute to answering key human questions like where do we come from, how did we get here and are we really alone?.

Our projects are usually developed in cooperation with Consortium of Astronomical institutes and eventually industry but, depending on the nature of the project, internal development of subsystems is also performed in house. As a result, you will need to be adaptable and able to work with a wide variety of people from a range of backgrounds and across many disciplines.

In addition to conducting such projects, you may have the responsibility to further develop and implement, in close cooperation with the Head of Department, elements of wider project management and product and quality assurance as exercised at ESO.

Main Duties and Responsibilities

  • Lead projects to develop and deploy systems, such as scientific instruments and sub-systems, forming a core project team with the project scientist and project engineer when applicable.
  • Accountable for delivering projects to science community in specifications, in budget and on time. To achieve this goal, you will interact with the ESO matrix organization.
  • Prepare and manage Consortium agreements and industrial contracts.
  • Actively carryout stakeholder management within and outside of ESO.
  • Provide objectives and feedback for each or your team members to their nominated line manager in accordance with general procedures and policies.
  • Proactively report projects progress to Programme Managers within ESO.
  • Frequently participate in project reviews in the role of reviewer, secretary or chair.

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

Reports to:

Head of the Project Management Department


  • At least five years of relevant professional experience in developing projects relating to instrumentation/optical systems.
  • A strong technical background in a relevant discipline, e.g. opto-mechanics, electronics, SW, control, cryogenics is essential. A strong scientific background in a related field is considered as an asset.
  • Knowledge and experience with the development, testing or operations of astronomical instruments (optical and/or infrared, ground or space based) is considered a valuable asset.
  • First-hand experience with the standard PM tasks of scope, schedule and resource planning, change and risk management, as well as demonstrated ability to build, develop and lead project teams.

Key Competences:

  • Used to work both on own initiative and as a part of a team as either leader or team member. Ability to build strong collaborative working relationships with people from different cultural backgrounds and disciplines.
  • Ability to work with partners from industry as well as academic or research institutions.
  • Provide clear, concise and timely oral and written communication identifying key issues, examining options and proposing steps ahead.
  • Ability to monitor progress of your own work and that of the project team, deliver to agreed deadlines and standards, plan activities, contribute to system design and be able to work under pressure.
  • Desire to learn and to further develop technical and interpersonal skills.
  • Prepared to travel frequently, also to Chile to visit sites at altitudes of up to more than 5000 metres.
  • Demonstrated critical thinking and problem-solving skills in relation to project management.
  • Demonstrated diplomatic skills to facilitate the management of external consortia.



An Advanced University degree in Project Management, Engineering or Physics or related scientific/technical field.

A First level University degree in combination with relevant working experience and/or additional technical qualifications will be accepted in lieu of an advanced university degree.


Formal qualifications in project management would be deemed an advantage.

Language Skills:

A very good command of the English language - oral, reading and writing - is essential and a working 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.

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 ESO's conditions of employment (

Duty Station:

Garching near Munich, Germany with trips to ESO sites in Chile as required.

Career Path: 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 11 June.

Interviews are expected to be held soon afterwards.

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

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