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Mechanical Group Leader


  • Organization: ESO - European Southern Observatory
  • Location: Paranal
  • Grade: Senior level - Senior
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Technology, Electronics and Mechanics
    • Mechanics and Electronics (Engineering)
  • Closing Date: Closed

The successful applicant will be the Leader of the Mechanics (mechanical engineering) Group, currently comprised of a total of 19 engineers and technicians and responsible for:

  • Maintenance in Conditions of Operation (MCO) of all mechanical equipment (except instruments), cooling equipment, rolling and handling equipment including movement/lift of heavy loads (e.g., during coatings), production of mechanical pieces in a dedicated fabrication workshop, and work package management of outsourced contract for mechanical maintenance.
  • Support to other groups in the mechanical fields of expertise for operations and maintenance (e.g., instrument movement), and project teams for integration and testing of new equipment.

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

The selected candidate will have the following main duties:

As Mechanical 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.
  • Act as the safety responsible for the Group
  • Support the observatory operation as Chief Operation Engineer (COE) amongst a pool of qualified staff.

As Mechanical 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 different stakeholders like managers and engineers at ESO headquarters, the Support and Quality Assurance group (planning, spare parts, maintenance plan optimization, documentation, and quality control), Science operations.

Support activities:

  • Execute performance analysis when needed.
  • Integrated Operations Program (IOP) to include the ELT into operations.
  • 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
  • Mechanical systems maintenance in a continuous operational environment
  • Project and contract management
  • Lean practices and Industry 4.0 concepts to modernize operations.

Key Competences:

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

  • Ability to engage the team along the IOP vision and transformation of the Observatory (i.e., VLT and ELT operated together)
  • Demonstrated experience with standard maintenance methodologies, e.g., organize effective troubleshooting and do root cause analysis.
  • Agility for managerial and administrative processes in particular, with planning and controlling resources.
  • Theoretical and practical knowledge of a variety of mechanical systems, involving high precision motions and/or opto-mechanical systems, with knowledge in the areas of pneumatic, hydraulic, thermal cooling and air conditioning.
  • Advanced techniques like finite element or material analysis, metrology, anomaly detection etc.
  • 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 mechanical engineering.

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. Spoken Spanish is highly desirable for communication in the day-to day business.

Remuneration and Contract information:

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 where applicable.

Our Salary Structure

ESO's salary structure is based upon a range of career paths which reflect the nature and level of our roles. Each career path is made up of two or three grades which are used to further reflect experience and performance. The role of Mechanical Group Leader r is in Career Path V. Please follow this link for more details

ESO aims to support its 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 offer is for a fixed term duration of three years and is subject to medical clearance and successful completion of the probation period. There may be a possibility of extension(s) to the contact 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 our contract policy and in particular the regulations concerning fixed-term and indefinite contracts are 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 nominal working schedule will be 8 days on duty and 6 days off duty (8x6) with accommodation provided on site, after a short induction period that could require 5 days on duty and 2 days off (5x2).

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. Please note that the interviews will be conducted in English. Within your CV, please provide the names and contact details of three persons who know your work well and would be willing to provide a recommendation letter if needed. Referees will only be contacted with your prior approval.

Deadline for applications is 22 October 2023.

Interviews are expected to start soon after this date.

ESO Values

An important element in any successful employment relationship is harmony in values between an organisation and its people.

The ESO values are:

ESO strives for excellence through innovation.

ESO provides outstanding services to its communities.

ESO fosters diversity & inclusion.

ESO believes in the key role of sustainability for its future.

Achieving the above are recognized as only possible on the basis of personal values and attitudes that we expect from our employees: respect, integrity, accountability, commitment, collaboration, and clear & open communication. Applicants to any ESO role are asked to reflect on their affinity with these values and advised they may be asked about them if called for interview.


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, equitable and inclusive workforce. Please visit for further details.


No nationality is in principle excluded from employment at ESO, however, recruitment preference will be given to nationals of our Member States, host states and strategic partners: 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.

This vacancy is now closed.
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