Ralf joined IFOK in 2000. He works mainly as a dialogue adviser for energy and infrastructure projects as well as supervises projects that are particularly adversarial. Ralf is a member of the Executive Board.
What led you – with a degree in Geography, Biology and Environmental Law – to a strategy and communications consultancy?
My interest in large, societal issues which, through my work on infrastructure, I could combine with my substantive expertise. Infrastructure has an impact on the places it develops and the communities it supports. As a result, the societal and environmental consequences of developing infrastructure as well as the legislative planning to implement such projects needs to be assessed.
What are the opportunities and limitations of citizen participation when it comes to large-scale projects?
Infrastructure projects always have their disadvantages. The projects often have the broad backing of the public but people are often directly and personally affected by the impacts, creating unrest and a lack of support. Therefore it’s important to deal with the public’s concerns fairly, to bring transparency into the steps of the planning process, and to strive for the best possible solution for all concerned. Participation offers a great opportunity for this – but only, if the scope is clear and if it links well with formal planning processes.
What spurs you on?
Is it incredibly satisfying to see the satisfaction of clients and participants alike at the end of a project –satisfaction that the best possible solution has been found, and satisfaction that communication between investors and critics has been improved.
What do you find particularly interesting about your project work?
I find the startup phase of a project particularly exciting. Getting my head around a new topic, building up and getting to know a team, and getting the whole process off the ground.
And finally: What would you like to share with our applicants / prospective colleagues? What advice would you give them?
I cannot recommend highly enough choosing a job which lets you work on issues that interest that you! Anything else would just be boring…