Leif Wiebking, Chief Technology Officer, Energy
Leif Wiebking, Chief Technology Officer, Energy
We are committed to making TE the most valued business partner for power grid connectivity and reliability.

Leif drives a customer centric approach to improve reliability of power grids. He leads the design of products engineered for quality, longevity, and easy installation. One of the biggest challenges in the energy industry is that 90% of failures in cable joints and termination are due to incorrect installation. To solve for this, Leif works closely with his team to develop products that require only basic craftmanship skills to ensure a fast, secure installation. With a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, Leif is focused on promoting new professional services for installers, such as training, automatic commissioning checks, and certifications for jointers and installers. As CTO of TE’s Energy business unit, Leif is continuously challenging his teams to create high-quality products offering easy installation at competitive prices – the kind of solution that TE customers are looking for.

1

Which trends are shaping energy industry globally?

There are three important trends that engineering working the in the energy market need to follow:

  1. Increasing demand for renewables and distributed generation: Power generation is becoming greener and moving closer to the consumer – industrial plants, municipalities and households – because of decreasing costs and more access to renewable energies such as wind, solar, and biomass.
  2. Expanding underground networks: Urbanization as well as urban building density and street design are restricting the use of overhead space, requiring new solutions that are driving a shift away from overhead power transmission and toward underground power transmission.
  3. Improving grid reliability: Faulty installation and improper handling of cable joints and terminations – primarily caused by inexperienced installation personnel – is driving increased focus on grid reliability and the need for trained personnel.

 

2

What is TE doing to address these trends?

At TE, we are developing innovative solutions to support these trends. Our comprehensive connectivity product suite for wind and solar parks is best in class. We combine reliability with cost efficiency leveraging high performance materials. We never stop innovating materials, electrical properties, costs, and ease of installation. We are committed to making TE the most valued business partner for power grid connectivity and reliability. We do this by making power connections more reliable, through product innovation and by offering comprehensive training and certification offerings for jointers. Additionally, we make products smarter by integrating sensors that enable continuous condition monitoring of joints and cable terminations.

 

3

What advice do you have for early-career engineers?

Build your technical domain knowledge. Then, focus on developing these three skills, all are very important to becoming a successful engineer:

  • Adopt a strong cost-focused mindset: The best technical product is not good enough if it does not hit market price. You need to have a clear understanding of target costs and then design the product in a cost-effective way to achieving this target. It is no longer about price premiums: Low-cost manufacturers are catching up in terms of product quality and performance. You need to design for all requirements.
  • Leverage internal and external partnerships: Today, engineering teams much do more with less and in less time. This is basic truth in today’s global market, because of increased competition. To scale up, it is insufficient and inefficient to ask more from your team. Engineers must work smarter, by exploring unconventional routes to managing increased scope and execution pressure. Partnering with external development partners – particularly, from low-cost countries – is crucial for achieving a business advantage. Yesterday, engineers talked about ‘the lab is our world’; today, we think about ‘the world is our lab.’
  • Be a change agent: Routine can stall creativity and prevent innovation. Ignore the mindset of “we have always done it this way.” When you get stuck, look beyond the typical solution and approach. Today, we have new technologies enabling faster production and different ways of working. Strive for continuous improvement. Reflect on your approach to work and adapt yourself to the new technologies and practices. It will help you keep pace with the best.

4

What influenced your decision to become an engineer?

I am curious about how things work. At school, physics was my favorite subject. I enjoyed conducting experiments and understanding the background. When a teacher introduced quanta and photons, I realized that because physics can be quite theoretical and academic, this was not the right direction for me. I wanted to build useful things by leveraging technologies. That’s when I started studying mechanical engineering. This gave me a foundation for developing technical knowledge and prepared me for evolving my thinking from ‘how does this product function?’ to also include ‘how can I make money with this product?’ This is the kind of shift that helped me become a CTO.

 

5

Who helped shape the engineer you are today?

A former boss from my previous company taught me a lesson on innovation. As a young engineer innovation meant to me designing complex products and working with fascinating technologies. The more complex the better. He stopped me and explained the difference between technology and innovation. Innovation has a technical part, i.e. a differentiated product. But it also has a commercial component, i.e. how to generate profitable growth from this product. The latter is a prerequisite to call something an innovation. Innovation is the combination of a differentiated product AND a commercially successful market introduction. That definition I liked a lot and I am using it in the daily business. From that moment I fully understood the importance of the commercial aspect in NPIs.

 

Leif Wiebking, Chief Technology Officer, Energy
Leif Wiebking, Chief Technology Officer, Energy
We are committed to making TE the most valued business partner for power grid connectivity and reliability.

Leif drives a customer centric approach to improve reliability of power grids. He leads the design of products engineered for quality, longevity, and easy installation. One of the biggest challenges in the energy industry is that 90% of failures in cable joints and termination are due to incorrect installation. To solve for this, Leif works closely with his team to develop products that require only basic craftmanship skills to ensure a fast, secure installation. With a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, Leif is focused on promoting new professional services for installers, such as training, automatic commissioning checks, and certifications for jointers and installers. As CTO of TE’s Energy business unit, Leif is continuously challenging his teams to create high-quality products offering easy installation at competitive prices – the kind of solution that TE customers are looking for.

1

Which trends are shaping energy industry globally?

There are three important trends that engineering working the in the energy market need to follow:

  1. Increasing demand for renewables and distributed generation: Power generation is becoming greener and moving closer to the consumer – industrial plants, municipalities and households – because of decreasing costs and more access to renewable energies such as wind, solar, and biomass.
  2. Expanding underground networks: Urbanization as well as urban building density and street design are restricting the use of overhead space, requiring new solutions that are driving a shift away from overhead power transmission and toward underground power transmission.
  3. Improving grid reliability: Faulty installation and improper handling of cable joints and terminations – primarily caused by inexperienced installation personnel – is driving increased focus on grid reliability and the need for trained personnel.

 

2

What is TE doing to address these trends?

At TE, we are developing innovative solutions to support these trends. Our comprehensive connectivity product suite for wind and solar parks is best in class. We combine reliability with cost efficiency leveraging high performance materials. We never stop innovating materials, electrical properties, costs, and ease of installation. We are committed to making TE the most valued business partner for power grid connectivity and reliability. We do this by making power connections more reliable, through product innovation and by offering comprehensive training and certification offerings for jointers. Additionally, we make products smarter by integrating sensors that enable continuous condition monitoring of joints and cable terminations.

 

3

What advice do you have for early-career engineers?

Build your technical domain knowledge. Then, focus on developing these three skills, all are very important to becoming a successful engineer:

  • Adopt a strong cost-focused mindset: The best technical product is not good enough if it does not hit market price. You need to have a clear understanding of target costs and then design the product in a cost-effective way to achieving this target. It is no longer about price premiums: Low-cost manufacturers are catching up in terms of product quality and performance. You need to design for all requirements.
  • Leverage internal and external partnerships: Today, engineering teams much do more with less and in less time. This is basic truth in today’s global market, because of increased competition. To scale up, it is insufficient and inefficient to ask more from your team. Engineers must work smarter, by exploring unconventional routes to managing increased scope and execution pressure. Partnering with external development partners – particularly, from low-cost countries – is crucial for achieving a business advantage. Yesterday, engineers talked about ‘the lab is our world’; today, we think about ‘the world is our lab.’
  • Be a change agent: Routine can stall creativity and prevent innovation. Ignore the mindset of “we have always done it this way.” When you get stuck, look beyond the typical solution and approach. Today, we have new technologies enabling faster production and different ways of working. Strive for continuous improvement. Reflect on your approach to work and adapt yourself to the new technologies and practices. It will help you keep pace with the best.

4

What influenced your decision to become an engineer?

I am curious about how things work. At school, physics was my favorite subject. I enjoyed conducting experiments and understanding the background. When a teacher introduced quanta and photons, I realized that because physics can be quite theoretical and academic, this was not the right direction for me. I wanted to build useful things by leveraging technologies. That’s when I started studying mechanical engineering. This gave me a foundation for developing technical knowledge and prepared me for evolving my thinking from ‘how does this product function?’ to also include ‘how can I make money with this product?’ This is the kind of shift that helped me become a CTO.

 

5

Who helped shape the engineer you are today?

A former boss from my previous company taught me a lesson on innovation. As a young engineer innovation meant to me designing complex products and working with fascinating technologies. The more complex the better. He stopped me and explained the difference between technology and innovation. Innovation has a technical part, i.e. a differentiated product. But it also has a commercial component, i.e. how to generate profitable growth from this product. The latter is a prerequisite to call something an innovation. Innovation is the combination of a differentiated product AND a commercially successful market introduction. That definition I liked a lot and I am using it in the daily business. From that moment I fully understood the importance of the commercial aspect in NPIs.