Head of the Earth Observation Science, Applications and Climate Department

Job Req ID:  14485
Closing Date:  27 January 2022
Establishment:  ESRIN, Frascati, Italy
Directorate:  Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes
Publication:  Internal & External
Vacancy Type:  Permanent
Date Posted:  20 December 2021

ESA is an equal opportunity employer, committed to achieving diversity within the workforce and creating an inclusive working environment. We therefore welcome applications from all qualified candidates irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, beliefs, age, disability or other characteristics. Applications from women are encouraged.


This post is classified A6 on the Coordinated Organisations’ salary scale.


ESRIN, Frascati, Italy  



Head of the Earth Observation Science, Applications and Climate Department in the Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes.


Under the direct authority of the Director of the Earth Observation Programmes, you will be responsible for providing scientific support to missions in preparation and operations, for the exploitation of data for all Earth observation (EO) missions involving ESA and its partners, and for the use of EO data for monitoring climate activities.

Your duties will include:

  • conducting a structured dialogue with scientific, public and private sector user communities and thereby establishing  definitive requirements for future research and operational missions;
  • interfacing with co-funding partners for the definition and consolidation of user needs and mission requirements (e.g. Member States, the European Commission, EUMETSAT, and international partners), including performing the necessary science studies and campaigns;
  • running the EO Advisory Groups and the work within the Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes, including the activities of the Advisory Committee for Earth Observation (ACEO);
  • undertaking a broad spectrum of R&D activities, ranging from Earth system sciences, application, through to pre-commercial development of new EO-derived products;
  • managing ESA activities relating to observing and understanding the Earth's climate system and fostering the use of EO data for the monitoring of climate change;
  • supporting new EO initiatives with Member States, the European Commission, or international partners in order to promote the use of EO data for science, applications and climate (e.g. Grand Science Challenges, Digital Twin Earth);
  • engaging with new users and pioneering new EO applications, including via the use of EO platforms, new digital technology, and artificial intelligence;
  • leading new, cross-disciplinary thematic initiatives, and co-designing these with end-user communities and stakeholders, including the use of EO data for sustainable development and global development assistance (GDA);
  • developing EO education, capacity-building and training activities, with Member States, the European Commission and international partners;
  • representing ESA on the Board of the International Charter Space and Major Disasters;
  • coordinating with the other Directorates from the ESA Applications Area (D/NAV, D/TIA) on topics of joint interest and ensuring the close interaction between the EOP and Multi Directorate Activities.

In this role you will liaise closely with other departments and offices within the Directorate, and coordinate with other Agency Directorates. You will form part of the senior management team of the Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes.

Technical competencies

Knowledge of scientific discipline, including having a strategic vision of Earth Observation and climate change
Experience in the management and monitoring of research and development activities
Interaction with the international scientific community and Europe’s European space industry at the highest level
Project and technical management

Behavioural competencies

Result Orientation 
Operational Efficiency 
Fostering Cooperation 
Relationship Management 
Continuous Improvement 
Forward Thinking


A Master's degree or PhD in engineering, physics, Earth sciences, computer science, climate, or environment is required.

Additional requirements

You should have proven Earth Observation-based research experience and credibility. You should also have:

  • the ability to provide strategic direction to individuals and teams and relate team objectives to the overall and evolving organisational goals and context;
  • the ability to anticipate problems, solve complex issues and relate situations to their context as well as to support others (team members, senior management and other stakeholders) in this process;
  • previous experience of managing managers and of managing a large entity encompassing several teams;
  • strong problem-solving skills to deal with day-to-day operational challenges, together with demonstrated planning and organisational skills;
  • knowledge of the international scientific community;
  • the ability to drive performance and foster cooperation within and across teams throughout the organisation;
  • a proven track record of representing the Agency's interests to external interfaces;
  • the ability to anticipate problems, solve complex issues and relate situations to their context;
  • the ability to reach solution-oriented, pragmatic and timely decisions of a high standard and with integrity as well as to support others (team members, upper management and other stakeholders) in this process;
  • international experience, i.e. outside your home country, as well as experience in diverse functional areas relevant to ESA activities are an asset.

Other information

For behavioural competencies expected from ESA staff in general, please refer to the ESA Competency Framework.     

The working languages of the Agency are English and French. A good knowledge of one of these is required.
Knowledge of another Member State language would be an asset.  

Please note that applicants may be required to undergo aptitude testing, including recognised psychometric testing as well as problem solving and decision-making exercises.  

At the Agency we value diversity and welcome people with disabilities.  Whenever possible, we seek to accommodate individuals with disabilities by providing the necessary support in the workplace.  The Human Resources Department can also assist during the recruitment process. If you would like to discuss this further please contact us at contact.human.resources@esa.int.


Please note that applications are only considered from nationals of one of the following States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Canada, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia.


In accordance with the European Space Agency’s security procedures and as part of the selection process, successful candidates will be required to undergo basic screening before appointment.