For a research infrastructure to be able to make groundbreaking scientific discoveries, it is essential to build efficient, well-established organizational structures and processes, as well as a strong team capable of carrying them out. Stephan Haid is responsible for coordinating these tasks and overcoming the associated challenges within the CTAO’s Administration Department. We sat down with Stephan to ask him more about his current position and recent activities…

Tell us about yourself and how you came into your present role.

I have a background in business administration, and, after university, I spent a year doing development work in Ghana, supporting the growth of small-scale industries. I really enjoyed it, but I had the opportunity to start a “trainee programme” at DESY (Deutsches Elektronen Synchrotron) in Hamburg and decided to go back to Germany. For me, this represented the beginning of my relationship with the scientific world.

At DESY, I started working in the project management of some administrative projects related to the implementation of IT systems and then, eventually, led a dedicated team to work on organizational development for the administration and IT systems. I also served as the administrative interface between DESY and European XFEL, the world’s largest X-ray laser facility.

At that time, I was involved in the administrative and financial support of DESY’s investments in international research collaborations, and, thanks to that, I was able to learn more about the CTAO. I found CTAO to be an extremely interesting project, not only from the scientific and technical perspective, but also from the organizational point of view – and I still find it super captivating!  To build up the organization with all its structures, processes, teams, IT systems, and in four locations (Spain, Chile, Italy and Germany), seemed challenging and fascinating. So, when the position of the CTAO Director of Administration was advertised, I applied. And, luckily, I got it.

What does a Director of Administration do do and why is it important to the future of CTAO?

As the CTAO Director of Administration, I am responsible for the Administration Department that supports key aspects for the basic development of the Observatory such as human resources, legal services, procurement, finances, among others. Fortunately, I have a team that is extremely capable and collaborative, and, together, we provide administrative services and organizational tasks to employees, as well as external partners.

In the final steps of the current preparatory phase, a great challenge is to set up the administrative part of the organization, design the processes and implement the right systems, that will facilitate the construction and operation of the Observatory, once the final legal entity of the ERIC is in place.

What are you working on now?

As we approach the establishment of the CTAO ERIC, and besides the regular preparation for the upcoming meetings of our Governing Bodies, such as the Council or the AFC (Administrative & Finance Committee), I am currently very focused on supporting the Board of Governmental Representatives with the preparation of the proposal for the administration rules and policies that will apply to the ERIC.

The transition we are undergoing as an organization has been very challenging for everyone, but I think our biggest achievement has been that we have built a strong, resilient team and, with that, an organization that is ready to start construction of a unique large-scale research infrastructure. We are entering an exciting and inspiring new phase: Regardless of whether you work in the Project Office, in the Director’s Office or in the Administration Department, we all are eager to see the CTAO and its infrastructure grow.

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Q&A with Director of Administration, Stephan Haid - CTAO