Interview with Dr.-Ing. Saskia Wessel

Dr. Saskia Wessel is a mechanical engineer and has been Head of Division at the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Battery Cell Production FFB since January 2019. She is responsible for the areas of "Materials and Electrochemistry" and "Plant and Process Design".

Dr.-Ing. Saskia Wessel, Head of Division at Fraunhofer Fraunhofer FFB.

What made you join Fraunhofer FFB as a division manager?

For me, Fraunhofer FFB is a lighthouse project that I am convinced will be a useful addition to the research environment in the field of battery production and will create a valuable portfolio for several industries. For me, being able to build such a project from scratch means freedom of design in many facets. I consider that an incredible privilege. At the same time, the project is very ambitious and a great challenge, which motivates me anew every day.

What are important leadership approaches for you personally?

Due to the innovative and novel character of Fraunhofer FFB, we cannot fall back on familiar solutions and standards in many places but must always think outside the box. This means that we have to remain agile and flexible but must not lose sight of the big goal. For me, it is important that every team member shares the responsibility associated with such a large project. In doing so, we live a high culture of trust in the team.

What role do your areas "Materials and Electrochemistry" and "Plant and Process Optimization" play in the development of Fraunhofer FFB?

Our divisions dovetail the topics of product and process. In a close, interdisciplinary exchange, we develop the cells on the one hand, including the materials that will ultimately roll off our production line. On the other hand, we define the corresponding processes and the necessary production technology for manufacturing the cells. Through new technologies, we are focusing in particular on improving the sustainability of battery cells.

You are a participant of the TALENTA career program. What does this program entail?

TALENTA offers me a wide range of training opportunities. So far, I have taken a seminar on strategy development. In addition, the program supports me in not losing sight of my personal goals in the dynamics of everyday life. It also includes a mentoring program in which we get the chance to exchange ideas with a personal mentor and coach each other in small groups with other mentees.

How does your TALENTA participation support you in your daily work as a division manager?

For me, the hours with TALENTA are my island in everyday life, where I get the time to reflect on my leadership activities and to exchange ideas intensively with the other participants in the program. The mutual support in the network is extraordinarily strong in the TALENTA program. Especially during the Corona period, when we were all working from home, this was a special support for me.