"I stand behind the city's projects and identify with its goals," says Sophia Segadlo.
Photo: Stadt Aachen

A Woman On a Quest to Improve The City

Aachen’s Net Zero Journey

Salt Lake City, Singapore... if you've studied engineering at RWTH, the world is your oyster. But what if that world was on your own doorstep? Civil engineer Sophia Segadlo graduated in 2017, decided to stay in Aachen, and has now been working in the City Administration Office for two years. Really? "Yeah! I really like being able to contribute to the improvement and transformation of the city where I live," says the Bonn native, who initially worked in different independent engineering firms. As a passionate cyclist, she was particularly interested in a job ad seeking engineers who would plan cycling facilities – and she was successful with her application. This follows the trend of an increasing number of young people who are also committed to a climate-friendly future through their careers; who don't just complain about the current situation, but get down to action.

Aachen Is Committed to Becoming a Net-Zero City

Aachen has around 200 initiatives working toward a healthy city in different ways. The rapid and consistent implementation of the UN’s climate goals is a key topic here. Starting all the way back in 1992, the City Council has adopted numerous concepts and measures for reducing CO2 levels, which have been implemented by the city’s administrative team. As these self-imposed goals had not been met, the City Council declared a "climate emergency" in June 2019. This jolted politics, the city administration, businesses, universities – and the general public into action. Representatives from all these groups then addressed the question of which areas could save the most CO2 and which measures would be most promising. They examined and evaluated what had been set in motion over the past 30 years and combined the results and fresh approaches into a concept that was adopted by the City Council in January 2020 in the Integrated Climate Protection Concept (IKSK). The following year, the concept was backed by a diverse catalog of measures and the City Council decided that Aachen should be climate-neutral by 2030 – a goal above and beyond the ICSK targets. The residents' motion "Climate-Neutral Aachen by 2030", which the council adopted with a large majority in May 2022, confirms this commitment.

Most recently, Aachen, with global player RWTH at its side, was one of the first of 100 Circular Cities committing to sustainable action. And the City Administration, spurred on by so much tailwind, once again set out to rethink Aachen and make the city fit for the future, implementing changes, with creative intelligence. It plans, moderates, and implements projects to fuel a mobility turnaround, a transformation in heat and power supply, and in resource consumption. All measures that will make Aachen a smart, vibrant, and climate-neutral city.

At Her Desk One Day, in Front of the Camera the Next

Sophia Segadlo is spurred on by this strong backing. "I stand behind the city's projects and greatly identify with the goals," she says, which is why she enthusiastically volunteered to give a testimonial for a recruiting campaign. The implementation of the many current and upcoming measures toward a climate-neutral city requires qualified urban designers. Last spring saw Sophia Segadlo spend her workday on set instead of at her desk. The shooting location was the gutted Neues Kurhaus Building on Monheimsallee, which is currently under renovation. What a hustle and bustle there was between spotlights and make-up brushes! But the civil engineer mastered the shoot, in which she talks about her work, as confidently as when planning a priority cycle route.

What Can Municipalities Do Now?

Dr. Markus Kremer, head of the Human Resources Department, is also aware of the many opportunities that are open to committed municipal colleagues when it comes to climate protection, urban design, and the mobility turnaround. Where and how can municipalities reduce CO2 emissions? When it comes to energy and heating supply, with the energy-efficient refurbishment of houses, with the use of efficient technologies and ecologically compatible materials in industry and commerce, through recycling management and the conservation of resources and soils, through climate-friendly management in private households. And, of course, in the transportation sector, which has to contribute around 30 percent to the local climate protection target.

When you love your job, you'll happily say so on camera: Civil engineer Sophia Segadlo and a colleague shooting a video in the gutted Neues Kurhaus Building.
Photo: Stadt Aachen, Paul Roissant

"We want to actively shape the development of our city and make it fit for the future."

"We want to actively shape the development of our city and make it fit for the future. The more than 70 measures of the ICSK are an essential basis here, but also require corresponding personnel resources for implementation," says Kremer. Therefore, we are constantly seeking new colleagues with suitable qualifications: Professionals in chemistry, solar energy, water conservation, IT, engineering, technology, biology, or e-mobility. Team players who shape the city in cooperation with politicians, residents, and administration departments.

"In addition to the various benefits of being employed in the public sector, such as a secure job or flexible working hours, we as a city offer the chance not only to think theoretically, but also to have a very practical influence. It's a unique opportunity," says the HR director.

Teamwork is very important for to Sophia Segadlo: "I am grateful for the colleagues in my team and in the other departments and areas. Time and again, I find that we are truly dedicated to working together and supporting each other. And I don’t believe that we here in Aachen live up to the cliché of stuffy administrative types."

Career With Flextime Options

What about the career prospects? "I applied for another position as an internal candidate and have been the head of the Road Planning Team as well as the deputy head of department since September 2021. In part, I still work on my own road planning measures, but I am predominantly in charge of coordinating the measures, representing the department, presenting planning measures to politicians in committees or in talks with residents at information events."

Besides opportunities for advancing her career, Sophia Segadlo also sees other advantages in her job, for example flextime and mobile working. "I am so glad I can completely plan and schedule my day as I like. I'm a late riser."

– Jutta Göricke