Head of the Mechanical Department

Website European Space Agency (ESA)



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.


ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands



Under the direct authority of the Director of Technology, Engineering and Quality, the Head of the Mechanical Department is a member of the Directorate’s management team and participates in the decision-making process for all major activities covered by the Directorate.


If selected for this position, you will actively work to ensure the well-being and motivation of the Department’s workforce, encouraging the flow of information and proactively coordinating with the Directorate’s other Departments.
In addition, you will take an active role in fostering the development and training of the workforce, with a view to maintaining the Agency’s high level of competence in the Department’s technical disciplines.
You will be responsible, together with a team of Division Heads, for the management of activities, technical facilities and laboratories as well as for maintaining excellence in the technical competences of the Department.


Duties include:

  • ensuring excellence in technology development in support of institutional and commercial missions including fostering space-related competences across ESA Member States;
  • providing state-of-the-art engineering support to ongoing and future programmes of ESA and to European Industry;
  • formulating a vision for technology development;
  • stimulating the evolution of engineering activities and the Department laboratories;
  • managing the ESTEC Test Centre;
  • taking an active role in interacting with Projects through technical reviews, procurement activities, in- orbit performance reviews, as well as development of lessons learned and engineering standards.


The above shall be carried out across the competences of the Mechanical Department which include automation and robotics, life and physical sciences instrumentation, life support, optics and electro-optics, structures and materials, mechanisms, thermal control, Flight Vehicle engineering, propulsion and aero-thermodynamics as well as test facilities for verification of spacecraft systems and subsystems.


You shall be required to liaise with other ESA directorates to support their needs and strategy and to interact with entities outside the Agency (Member State delegations, industry, academia, international partners) in order to promote and develop ESA activities.

Technical competencies

Experience in technology development and engineering support
Experience of working in a matrix-structured organisation
Resource planning and management experience
Experience in technical reviews

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

You should have:

  • solid and proven experience in the management of space activities in a multi-project environment, in the leading of large teams and in the management of a wide range of infrastructure, such as technical facilities and laboratories;
  • a proven track record in driving team performance, fostering cooperation across teams and stakeholders and in developing and motivating people;
  • excellent communication, relationship, ambassadorship and leadership skills, coupled with knowledge of the internal operations of the Agency or a similar organisation.


A demonstrated ability to synthesise technical and programmatic information, to provide vision for technology development and to stimulate the evolution of engineering activities is an essential pre-requisite.


You should also have:

  • proven experience of leading, motivating and developing a team;
  • the ability to provide strategic direction to the individuals and teams within the Department 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, 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, 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 offerand 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.

Please note that applicants may be required to undergo psychometric testing and other assessments.

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 [email protected].


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 conducted by an external background screening service.

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