Head of User Support Services

Bonn, Germany
Industry Sector:
International Public Sector
Type of contract:

Head of User Support Services

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Head of User Support Services

Vacancy No.: VN20-23

Department: Forecast

Grade: A4

Section: User Support Services

Job Ref. No.: STF-C/20-23

Reports to: Director of Forecasts

Closing Date: 01 February 2021

Location: Bonn, Germany 

  1. About ECMWF

ECMWF is both a research institute and a 24/7 operational service, producing and disseminating numerical weather predictions to its Member States. ECMWF carries out scientific and technical research directed to the improvement of its forecasts, collects and processes large amounts of observations, and manages a long-term archive of meteorological data. Satellite and in situ observations provide the information for up-to-date global analyses and climate reanalyses of the atmosphere, ocean and land surface.

For details, see www.ecmwf.int/

User Support Services play a central role at ECMWF as the interface between the Centre and its users. The role of this section is to ensure that users are supported and that their needs feed into ECMWF’s strategic direction based on such requirements. The section provides an integrated support service for users, including the development and delivery of learning provision and its coordination.

  1. Summary of the role

The Head of the User Support Services Section is responsible for the provision of support to users of ECMWF computing, software and data services as well as related service-delivery activities. The section is responsible for both external and internal users. This role is pivotal in ensuring that our users around the world enjoy a first-class support enabling them to make the most of ECMWF services. The post-holder reports directly to the Director of Forecasts and will have a secondary reporting line to the Director of Copernicus Services.

The post holder will be part of ECMWF’s Senior Management Team and will be responsible for co- ordinating and/or delivering strategic crosscutting, inter-dependent projects and programmes in an operational environment, which will involve close collaboration and frequent interaction with a variety of internal and external users and partner organisations. They will play an important role in linking and integrating user support related activities across departments distributed across multiple ECMWF locations to provide a consistent user experience throughout the organisation.

The role involves close collaboration with ECMWF’s Service Delivery Section in the Computing Department and its Service Desk Team. The Service Desk is responsible for managing of support tickets and providing first level support for all activities of ECMWF and providing IT support with a focus on end-user devices, business software and AV equipment.

The role calls for an individual who will encourage and nurture continuous innovation and improvement by leading, and providing expertise, to ensure that user support services meet the pre- agreed service level agreements and future strategic requirements. They will also represent ECMWF in international meetings in their areas of expertise.

The successful candidate will also lead three teams within the section, covering the following service areas:

  • Computing and Software Support: responsible for the second line of user support of general- purpose computing services such as the HPC, Cloud and the of any other computing platforms available to ECMWF staff, Member and Co-operating States, and Copernicus contractors using. The team is responsible for the support, installation and life cycle management of scientific and forecast software packages at ECMWF and looks after the users of the Atlassian tools to assist collaboration and code developments at ECMWF. It is also responsible for time-critical applications, Special Projects and Optional Programmes that require computing or software support. In addition, the team provides support for the cloud services at ECMWF and provides second line support for the meteorological data archiving and retrieval systems, with special attention to user query optimisation. The team works closely with the experts who provide the third level of support, and together with the Service Desk are managing the escalation process, including monitoring the satisfactory and timely resolution of user requests.
  • Data Support: responsible for managing the relationship and supporting customers of ECMWF real- time/archive catalogue products, and users of open data and tools provided by the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) and the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). The activities of the team include advice and support on data related queries, data licence management, real-time data delivery, communication on topics relevant to customers/users. The team works closely with other teams across ECMWF to offer various levels of support, as well as managing the support function for CAMS and C3S, quite often through contractors.
  • User outreach and engagement: responsible for learning services and user-oriented documentation, user engagement related to operational forecasting activities, and leading the planning and organisation of outreach activities such as Member and Co-operating States liaison visits, user meetings. This team works in collaboration with ECMWF Communications Section. It is also responsible for collecting user requests for new products/services, developing statistics that show the use of ECMWF data/products and services to support strategic decision-making and develop SLAs and associated KPIs to assess user support services. The team works closely with colleagues dedicated to Copernicus-related activities (including user engagement, uptake and training) to ensure a seamless offer across ECMWF. It supports the Copernicus reporting activities required by the European Commission (Key Performance Indicators related to user uptake, outreach, growth, etc.). The team supports agreed international efforts in the areas such as product uptake and training (World Bank, World Meteorological Organisation, EUMETNET) and innovation programmes (for example European Summer of Weather Code).
  1. Main duties and key responsibilities
  • Leading the provision of effective, high quality and reliable user support services and training/outreach activities to Member and Co-operating States and other users in line with ECMWF’s strategy
  • Managing the evolution and continuous improvement of ECMWF’s user support service experience
  • Leading and managing the User Support Services Section and its team leaders by providing leadership, coaching and support
  • Planning, organising and managing the resources of the section, and complementing these when appropriate by attracting funds from externally funded projects
  • Developing and maintaining strong relationships with key internal staff from across all departments at ECMWF
  • Co-ordination with Copernicus User Engagement and Uptake activities
  • Providing insight and recommendations to the ECMWF Leadership Team and governing bodies
  • Supporting the Director of Forecasts and Director of Copernicus Services in the delivery of ECMWF’s strategy, in relation to user support services and contributing to future strategic plans
  • Acting as budget holder, which will involve budgetary planning, control and managing the resource plan for the section within the budgetary constraints
  1. Personal Attributes
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to motivate and develop diverse teams, whilst creating a compelling vision
  • Ability to cope with the demands of a constantly changing and time-constrained operational environment
  • A supportive service-oriented and practical approach
  • Good technical support skills, diplomacy and tact
  • Positive attitude with a willingness to embrace change and new challenges
  • Ability to develop strong relationships and influence others
  • Flexibility and the ability to work on multiple concurrent projects efficiently and effectively
  • Ability to work in a matrix-managed environment across multiple locations
  1. Qualifications and experience required


Advanced university degree or equivalent professional experience.


  • Considerable experience of leading user support services.
  • Demonstrated experience of supporting emerging technologies, services and applications.
  • Demonstrated experience of managing and developing diverse teams.
  • Strong experience of leading significant projects or activities that involve large numbers of diverse stakeholders.
  • Proven track record of developing processes and procedures to deliver high standards of efficiency through leading change and continuous improvement programmes in a fast-paced environment.
  • Understanding of advanced IT infrastructure, such as high-performance computing and large data archive systems would be an advantage.

Knowledge and skills (including language)

  • Excellent ability to analyse complex, diverse and sometimes conflicting user requirements and to deploy adequate strategic responses.
  • Excellent decision-making skills. Strong influencing skills.
  • Candidates must be able to work effectively in English and interviews will be conducted in English.
  • A good knowledge of German would be highly desirable.

The successful candidate will be recruited at the A4 grade, according to the scales of the Co-ordinated Organisations and the annual salary will be EUR 107,790.12 net of tax. ECMWF also offers a generous benefits package.

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European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF)

ECMWF is both a research institute and a 24/7 operational service, producing and disseminating numerical weather predictions to its Member States. This data is fully available to the national meteorological services in the Member States. The Centre also offers a catalogue of forecast data that can be purchased by businesses worldwide and other commercial customers. The supercomputer facility (and associated data archive) at ECMWF is one of the largest of its type in Europe and Member States can use 25% of its capacity for their own purposes.

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