ESO Council Launches Search for Next Director General

1 juli 2016

The current ESO Director General, Tim de Zeeuw, will complete his second 5-year term as Director General at the end of August 2017. The ESO Council has decided to establish a search committee to help in the selection of the next Director General.

Tim de Zeeuw has led ESO during a period of outstanding scientific, technical and organisational success. He has overseen ESO’s contributions to the completion of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) Observatory, the selection and acquisition of the site and the approval and start of construction of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) together with its first light instruments, the continuing operation and development of the La Silla and Paranal observatories including the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment telescope (APEX) telescope, the completion of the second generation Very Large Telescope array (VLT) instruments, and the completion of the extension of the Headquarters building in Garching and the donation of the ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre. The rich scientific harvest from these activities has led to ESO’s position as the world’s most productive astronomical observatory. Council wishes to build on this record of success by appointing an outstanding Director General via an open international search.

Under the current Director General, the number of Member States has increased to fifteen and a number of other countries are presently at different levels of engagement regarding potential membership. The ESO Council also agreed to gradually increase the Member State contributions over a decade to provide the funding for construction and operations of the E-ELT, whilst supporting continuing exploitation and development of ESO’s La Silla, Paranal, and ALMA facilities. As ESO has grown, it has been restructured to manage these activities.

The main tasks for the Director General are to manage the ESO programme, and to work with Council to develop and implement the strategies they define, to maintain ESO’s leadership and excellence in astronomical science and oversee the construction of the E-ELT, whilst maintaining the world-leading productivity of the other facilities.

The ESO Council has approved the construction of the first phase of the E-ELT, and a major role for the Director General will be to keep the E-ELT on track for first light in 2024 and bring it towards full operations. Completion of the full E-ELT capabilities will require additional funds, and the Director General will need to work with Council to secure them and develop a strategy for further developments. This will require balancing ESO’s investments in the most important programmes and projects within strict budgetary constraints.

The Director General should meet the following requirements:

  1. Representing ESO with the ambition of leadership in astronomical research: The Director General should have internationally recognised scientific excellence in astronomical research and must be able to project a long-term strategic view of the science to a wide audience. The Director General must be enthusiastic, energetic and committed with excellent communication and leadership skills.
  2. ESO’s internal management requirements: The Director General should have the ability to lead, direct and manage a team of senior staff in order to execute and implement three large programmes in very different settings (La Silla – Paranal operations, upgrades and evolution, ALMA operations and development in cooperation with ESO’s partners in North America and East Asia, and E-ELT construction, planning and development). They must maintain close links between the different ESO sites and ensure effective deployment and usage of resources. The Director General must ensure a positive work environment with a structure that ensures a highly motivated, responsive and productive staff.
  3. The need to define ESO’s role in global astronomical research: The Director General should be able to work with the ESO Council in the development and evolution of ESO’s strategy, in developing ESO further as the organisation for astronomical collaboration in the global arena, and in defining the route to full implementation of the E-ELT. The Director General is responsible for implementing the strategy agreed by ESO Council.
  4. ESO’s international relations requirements: The Director General should understand the political dimension of ESO and be able to maintain and develop good relationships with international partners, both inside and outside Europe; the scientific user community, astronomical expert institutes, international scientific bodies and agencies, governments and the European Union. The maintenance of excellent relations with the Republic of Chile and the Member States is a key requirement.

A proven record of strong leadership of a well-known and internationally oriented astronomical institute or international organisation is essential. Frequent travel between the ESO Headquarters in Garching, Germany, the observatory sites and Santiago office in Chile and to institutes, agencies and other organisations around the world will be needed. Excellent communication skills and a very good knowledge of English are essential and knowledge of German and/or Spanish is an asset.

The position of Director General is a full time post, with an initial appointment for a five year term, with the possibility of renewal. Benefits and allowances are in accordance with ESO’s staff rules and regulations.

Persons wishing to express an interest in this position should contact the ESO Council President, Patrick Roche, including a brief CV and letter of motivation.



ESO Council President
Patrick Roche
University of Oxford
Department of Physics
Denys Wilkinson Building
Keble Road
Oxford OX1 3RH, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 1865 273338

Richard Hook
ESO Public Information Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
Cell: +49 151 1537 3591

Om meddelandet



Prof. Tim de Zeeuw visiting Paranal Observatory
Prof. Tim de Zeeuw visiting Paranal Observatory