Working at IKEM

Collaboratively working towards a common goal

Susan und Sandra

IKEM is more than just a place where innovative ideas for a sustainable future are born and practical solutions for climate protection are developed – it is also a workplace for over 60 people. In an interview, Managing Director Susan Wilms and Human Resources Manager Sandra Jankowski discuss everyday working life at IKEM, the challenges of a growing workforce, and the search for new colleagues. This much in advance: If you want to join IKEM, you can find our current job opportunities here.

Who works at IKEM?

Sandra Jankowski: Even though it might sound clichéd, IKEM brings together people with diverse backgrounds, skills, and interests. Our team is international and has a high representation of women. It includes not only numerous professionals from the legal field but also experts from various other disciplines. Among them are literature and environmental scientists, geologists, and mobility experts.

Susan Wilms: We are all united by the desire not just to do a job, but to make a difference. For us, research – for example, on the role of hydrogen in the energy system, on sustainable mobility solutions or on social participation in energy transition projects – is always also a contribution to climate protection.

What does a typical day at IKEM look like?

Susan Wilms: At IKEM, no two days are likely to be the same. At its core, the focus is on writing scholarly articles, preparing presentations, and initiating and managing projects. But precisely because the topics and projects dealt with are truely diverse, IKEM consistently presents new captivating tasks and challenges. This can encompass anything from workshops with international project partners and presentations in federal ministries to press events for introducing an autonomous vehicle.

What makes IKEM stand out as an employer?

Sandra Jankowski: We think it’s important that colleagues can balance work and life as smoothly as possible. As an employer, we can contribute to this, among other things by creating the opportunity for everyone to arrange working hours and locations according to their own wishes.

Susan Wilms: Additionally, we value flat hierarchies. This means that we expect our colleagues to work independently and take responsibility for their tasks. At the same time, engagement isn’t just demanded; it’s encouraged. At IKEM, you can explore new fields of interest, set your own priorities, initiate projects, or pursue doctoral research.

Sandra Jankowski: What also struck me compared to previous workplaces is the open and inclusive atmosphere at IKEM. This applies not only to project work, but it goes beyond that: There’s an internal IKEM ranking of nearby restaurants for shared lunches and groups that come together for leisure activities such as bouldering, beach volleyball, or karaoke. The sense that everyone is committed to a common goal shapes IKEM’s corporate culture.

How has IKEM developed in recent years?

Susan Wilms: Since its inception 14 years ago, IKEM has undergone a remarkable transformation. What began as a small institute with a handful of employees has now become a renowned research institution and climate-focused NGO with a sizable workforce. Naturally, this transition has brought forth its own set of challenges: what used to function on ad-hoc communication now requires clear responsibilities and coordination. As an organization, we’ve had to evolve, and I believe we’ve succeeded in doing so. Through the establishment of our four departments, we’ve created a structure that supports our work both in terms of content and organization. This structure also provides opportunities for growth and development, while maintaining a sense of togetherness and the IKEM spirit.

Who should apply to IKEM?

Sandra Jankowski: On our website, we regularly post exciting and typically permanent job openings. Depending on the position, we expect solid expertise in the relevant research field or at least a strong interest in the topic. However, it is much more important that the applicant shows team spirit, is open to new tasks and challenges, and wants to work with us on climate protection.

Welcome back


Susan Wilms, LL.M.Quelle: IKEM/

IKEM – Institute for Climate Protection, Energy and Mobility e.V.