A Product Manager with a Background in Research
The certified materials scientist Wilhelm Watzke started his career at tesa in the research laboratory – and then successfully jumped into a new department: Marketing.
Anyone who googles his name will come across the term “inventor”. Wilhelm Watzke is listed with the identification number “EP2684927A2” in the register of the European Patent Office. Together with two colleagues, the graduate engineer for material science developed an adhesive tape for improved protection for glass edges, especially on solar modules – registered in 2013 by his employer tesa. With this innovation, Wilhelm Watzke has contributed to the company’s success story, which is based on many patents. It is no coincidence that more than 7,000 different adhesive tapes for industrial and home applications are available today.
Wilhelm Watzke has been working as an International Product Manager at the tape specialist tesa since 2017. His areas of responsibility include the development of adhesive solutions for the construction supply industry – in close co-operation with customers, laboratories, factories, and the sales force. The graduate engineer in materials science started his career in the company in 2011 and initially worked in Product and Technology Development for six years. Born in Berlin, he studied plastics and material engineering in Osnabrück, Stenden (Netherlands) and Pittsburg (USA). Based on his own experience, the 35-year-old emphasises: “tesa is very open to cross-functional steps and thus offers good prospects especially for university graduates.”
In the meantime, the former inventor has reinvented himself. After joining tesa in 2011 – and after two years in Product Development and four years in Application Technology – the graduate engineer for materials science switched to Product Management. His job since 2017: International Product Manager, with a focus on the construction supply industry. “As soon as this opportunity opened up, I spontaneously said ‘yes’,” says Watzke and underlines that he loves to learn new things.
“In Research, I was able to focus on just a few projects and specific problems, while in Product Management I have to juggle many balls at the same time.”
International Product Manager
There are ups and downs in every profession, of course, but he has never regretted the change. “However, the learning curve was extremely steep because the work in product management is quite different from the laboratory. While I was able to focus on just few projects and specific problems in research, now I have to juggle many balls at the same time and I’m much closer to the day-to-day business and the customer. The tasks and response deadlines are often time-critical,” the 35-year-old explains. What supports him is his ability to translate technical aspects into marketing-relevant parameters. For example in a current project where a flame-retardant adhesive tape for interior use is being developed together with a customer. For tasks of this kind, Wilhelm Watzke is in regular contact with his colleagues from Research, Production, and Sales.
different adhesive tapes
In addition to the broader network and a deeper understanding of processes in the company, he particularly appreciates the possibility of pursuing his own ideas while doing his job: “The often-mentioned ‘Freedom to act’ really exists at tesa. Despite all the stress, this freedom can be lived out in product management. However, you have to bring along a healthy measure of resilience.” He also likes to convey this message to interns. “I always tell them: Adhesive tapes alone are boring, but the variety of applications can be extremely exciting and challenging. At tesa, you can truly explore many areas, which makes the company an attractive employer.” Speaking of exploring: In October, Wilhelm Watzke started a part-time MBA study programme in Hamburg. You would call him an adventurer, even without knowing about his multi-week cycle tour through Malaysia and Thailand in 2019. He has now entered another exciting field of study: parental leave with his son Louis, born in March.
Faces and Stories
tesa offers not only vertical but also horizontal career paths. Who are the employees that have successfully moved forward on alternative paths? What motivated them? What tips do they have for others? These and other questions will be answered in an article series on tesa.insights. In loose sequence, we’ll portray protagonists from the diverse working world at tesa. General information about tesa as an employer: