Head of System Architect Office

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    2 weeks ago
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Vacancy in the Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes.

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 A5 on the Coordinated Organisations’ salary scale.

ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands


Head of the System Architect Office, Future Missions and Architecture Department, Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes.


Under the direct authority of the Head of the Future Missions and Architecture Department, as Head of the System Architect Office, you will be responsible for establishing and maintaining a reference architecture for European Earth Observation (EO) systems, encompassing all ESA Earth Observation missions (Earth Explorers, Sentinels, meteorological missions, third-party missions and scouts) and taking account of European, national and commercial systems as well as systems of international partner agencies.

To that end, in close dialogue with users and stakeholders, you will conduct system-of-systems engineering analyses to assess the scientific, technological, industrial and operational synergies of various Earth observation missions, as well as relevant non-space systems, for example HAPs and in-situ networks, with the aim of maximising the return on investment in future Earth observation missions to increase their attractiveness and expand the user base. To achieve the latter objective, you will explore new domains of Earth observation with an observatory function to permanently search for innovation with an active external network to gather information on technology evolution, including benchmarking against other organisations.

You will conduct periodical observation gap analyses to be used in formulating EOP strategy. You will maintain and update the end-to-end system requirements of the Copernicus Space Component (CSC) based on European Union and Member State user requirements.

You will define the strategy for preparing the evolution of the CSC and its system architecture, including “make or buy” trade-offs and establishing and maintaining the CSC long-term scenario accordingly. EOP-FA promotes broad-based teamwork with staff from all EOP departments and other ESA directorates to achieve these goals.

Duties (continued)

Your duties will include:

  • exploring new EO domains with an observatory function to permanently search for innovation with an active external network, gathering information on technology evolution and including benchmarking against other organisations;
  • periodically conducting observation gap analyses so as to contribute to formulating EOP strategy in close cooperation with the Science, Applications and Climate Department;
  • elaborating on the needs, constraints and interests in respect of different observations among the various actors, including national and commercial, and identifying programmatic capacities, options, overlaps, links and means to foster their transformation into synergies;
  • analysing technical and economic issues and trends under new sectorial initiatives to assess the relevant feasibility, for example, estimating the scientific, operational, strategic and economic impact of new services and products and their applications;
  • performing trade-offs with different scenarios, allowing for their integration into existing infrastructure in terms of cost, risk, affordability and available programmatic lines, including analyses and identification of appropriate procurement schemes and private sector involvement;
  • contributing to defining and updating the end-to-end system requirements of the Copernicus Space Component (CSC) based on user needs and defining the strategy for preparing the evolution of the CSC and its system architecture, including “make or buy” trade-offs, and establishing and maintaining the CSC Long-Term Scenario accordingly;
  • contributing to technology coordination in relevant internal forums in close coordination with relevant actors in the EOP and the Technology, Engineering and Quality Directorates;
  • developing, maintaining and sharing across the Directorate, for example using digital media, non-confidential technical descriptions, lists of related events and programmatic content relevant to ESA and non-ESA (Member States, European Union, commercial and international partners) missions and technology;
  • contributing to representing EOP interests in relevant groups in charge of preparing new ESA activities and feeding relevant information back to the EOP Directorate.

You will actively work to ensure the well-being, motivation, training and career progression of the Office workforce, incentivising transparency, information flow and coordination with other units within the Directorate.

Technical competencies

Broad knowledge of scientific discipline, including strategic vision of the Earth Science area
Knowledge & understanding of the Agency’s core business
Knowledge of EO technical domains and related R&D space industry trends
Knowledge of relevant strategic and technological trends and developments, both inside and outside the space domain, and their potential impact on the activities of EOP
Knowledge of the European and international space sector (institutional, commercial and/or industrial)

Behavioural competencies

Result orientation

Operational Efficiency

Fostering Cooperation

Relationship Management

Continuous Improvement

Forward Thinking


A master’s degree in a relevant engineering discipline is required.

Additional requirements

A successful track record in Earth observation system activities is required, preferably in an international context.

You should also have:

  • proven experience of leading, motivating and developing a team of experts;
  • the ability to provide strategic direction to the individuals and teams within the Office and to relate team objectives to the overall, evolving organisational goals and context;
  • the ability to drive performance and foster cooperation within and across teams throughout the organisation;
  • demonstrated excellent leadership, relationship management and communication skills, both oral and written;
  • a proven track record of representing the Agency’s interests to external interfaces;
  • excellent cognitive, analytical, delegation, planning and organisational skills;
  • the ability to anticipate problems, resolve complex issues and relate situations to their context;
  • the ability to make solution-oriented, pragmatic and timely decisions of a high standard and with integrity and to support others (team members, upper management and other stakeholders) in this process.

People management experience is an asset, as is international experience, i.e. outside your home country, as well as experience in diverse functional areas relevant to ESA activities.

Other Information

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

For further information please visit: Professionals, What we offer and FAQ

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.

The Agency may require applicants to undergo selection tests.

At the Agency we value diversity and we welcome people with disabilities. Whenever possible, we seek to accommodate individuals with disabilities by providing the necessary support at the workplace. The Human Resources Department can also provide assistance 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, Slovakia and Slovenia.

According to the ESA Convention, the recruitment of staff must take into account an adequate distribution of posts among nationals of the ESA Member States*. When short-listing for an interview, priority will first be given to internal candidates and secondly to external candidates from under-represented Member States*.

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 conducted by an external background screening service.

*Member States, Associate Members or Cooperating States.