Programme Controller

Employer: ESO European Southern Observatory
Job location
Antofagasta, Chile
Job term
3-year contract
Job closing date

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 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.

For the Director’s Office of the La Silla Paranal Observatory, ESO is opening the position of Programme Controller.

In the framework of the development of future site operations the Paranal Observatory is preparing operations of the VLT and the ELT in an Integrated Operations concept. The key mission of the selected candidate will be to support the programme management with an effective controlling of the programme’s resources and schedule.


Main Duties and Responsibilities:

The selected candidate will be responsible for the implementation of programme and project planning and control processes and ensures their effectiveness. S/he will identify and control the details of the programme resource budgets, such as funding resources and programme staffing, as well as the associated programme schedule. S/he will also:

• Prepare programme budget and schedule, and consolidate the resource planning

• Interact with the various stakeholders and ensure effectiveness of the implemented planning and project control processes

• Provide analysis-based performance reports, e.g. on budget, schedule and risks, and advice the programme management in strategic decisions

• Communicate with other organizational entities to ensure the required alignment with organization-wide processes.


Reports to:

Head of La Silla Paranal Observatory Director’s Office



The ideal candidate has 3 to 5 years of experience in project resource controlling with deep involvement in project management processes, ideally in research or development projects. It will be considered as an asset, but not mandatory, to have working experience in a non-profit environment as well as experience in implementing new processes and the management of changes.


Key Competences:

• Strong conceptual and analytical skills

• Excellent interpersonal communication skills and ability to work collaboratively in a multidisciplinary and multicultural team, respecting individual differences.

• Pro-active approach in solution thinking



Bachelor degree in economics, accounting & controlling, finance & accounting, business administration or similar. A master degree certifying the development of relevant analytic skills is considered to be an asset.


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, 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:

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.



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.

Deadline for applications is 22 November 2021.

Interviews are expected to start soon after this date.


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 Chile irrespective of gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity or religion.