ESO - European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere

Director of Administration

ESO - European Southern Observatory

Garching, Germany

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, ESO is building the 39-metre European 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.

For its Directorate of Administration, at the Headquarters in Garching near Munich, Germany, ESO is opening the position of: Director of Administration.

As a member of the Directorate, reporting to the Director General, the Director of Administration has a leading role in ensuring that the Organisation's available and expected financial and human resources match the scope of its entire programme.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

The selected candidate will provide efficient administrative services and advice to the Director General, Directors, Department Heads and to staff members in scientific and technical areas in the fields of financial planning and accounting, treasury, contracts and procurement, human resources, infrastructure site and building maintenance, safety and administrative computing.

As a member of the ESO senior management the Director of Administration contributes to the development of the overall policy, strategic planning, and maintains professional contacts at the highest level outside the Organisation.

ESO employs approximately 700 staff members. The Directorate of Administration comprises the following departments/groups: Human Resources, Finance, Contracts and Procurement, Facilities logistics and transport, Administrative Infrastructure Chile, Safety and ERP.

The Director of Administration has the accountability for the effective management, co-ordination and follow-up of activities associated with various high-level Working Groups and Committees, in particular the Finance Committee.

Reports to:

The Director General, located in Garching.

Qualifications and Experience:

ESO seeks an experienced senior administrator with a university degree preferably in Business Administration, Economics, Law or related discipline with specific studies in Human Resources, Contract/Procurement and Finance.

The successful candidate should possess:

  • Extensive management and administration experience in a research or scientific environment, preferably in an international organisation;
  • Proven track record in working in a multi-discipline environment including human resources, contract, financial, legal and insurance matters;
  • Experience in reporting to and formulating policies for submission to governing bodies, and their implementation and tracking;
  • Successful track record of resolving complex administrative issues and providing solutions for implementation;
  • Successful experience in dealing with Human Resources strategic issues and in constructive interactions with staff associations and unions;
  • Successful track record in leading and managing teams within the work area, and the ability to influence the work of others to meet organisational needs;
  • Capacity to set and revise objectives of the different departments/groups, and to focus on priorities and evaluate procedural duties;
  • Experience in interactions and negotiations with high-level public sector and private partners;
  • Excellent communication skills.

Key Competences:

  • The ability to think strategically, to take effective decisions and provide leadership;
  • The ability to understand the perspective of key decision makers and partners – thinking through their needs and interests to identify their agenda;
  • The ability to build strong and effective links both within and outside the organisation.

Language Skills:

The position requires proficiency in written and spoken English. Good knowledge of German and Spanish are important assets. Additional knowledge of other European languages would be an advantage.

Remuneration and Contract:

ESO offers 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

Duty Station:

Garching near Munich, Germany, with regular travel to Chile.

Career Path: VII


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 a CV. Also required are the names and contact details of three referees. These referees may be contacted at the end of recruitment process, but not without your prior consent.

Closing date for applications is 15.03.2017.

Interviews are expected to be held soon after this date.

No nationality is in principle excluded. However, recruitment preference will be given to nationals of Austria, Belgium, Brazil (pending ratification), the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom.

The post is equally open to suitably qualified female and male applicants.

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