Interview with Dr. Sandra Krey

Dr. Sandra Krey


Executive Vice President for Finances and Controlling and managing director of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (interim)


“The diversity of our work is appealing.”

Sandra Krey studied business administration and earned her doctorate at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen -Nürnberg. She held an auditing position at KPMG before she joined the MAN corporation in Munich in2002. There she held various leadership positions in accounting and controlling. Most recently, she was senior vice president of Accounting and Finance Processes at MAN Truck & Bus SE and, at the same time, was managing director of the MAN Shared Services Center in Poznań, Poland.


Sandra Krey has been on the executive board at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft since August 2022.


Dr. Krey, you have been working in the business sector for more than 20 years. What prompted the switch to a research organization?

For me, it’s exciting to see what possibilities there are and how many different directions we can explore for the future. What appeals to me about the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is the broad range of areas we work with, as well as our objective of putting innovations into practice in collaboration with our industrial partners. I’m very excited that, as part of Fraunhofer, I can help position Germany as a business hub in the future.


You’ve been working in controlling for many years. What is it about this work that interests you the most?

I’ll admit, I’m a numbers person and I like working with financial figures and analyses. I’m also fascinated by the change that traditional controlling has been going through for the past few years — there’s been a move away from purely reporting figures and more toward making business decisions based on scenarios, business model analyses and financial correlations. Digital transformation, and all the possibilities that come with it, create a great environment for innovation in controlling.


How do you see your role on the Fraunhofer executive board? Are you the one who holds the purse strings?

As executive vice president for Finances and Controlling, I believe my task is to facilitate the implementation of strategically important projects from a financial perspective, and to make it as simple as possible for us to provide the funding needed for research. At the same time, it’s crucial that I consider the perspective of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in its entirety when it comes to setting priorities. A key part of my job will be ensuring transparency at an early stage regarding financial developments and their possible consequences.


What are your initial goals? What do you hope to accomplish by this time next year?

The institutes are at the heart of applied research — the Finances and Controlling executive unit acts as a partner to support the institutes in launching research projects. In my opinion, this means that having efficient processes at the administrative level is just as important for the financial management of the institutes as using the SAP system. 


You mentioned the new SAP system. What are your expectations for the system?

I have always enjoyed working with SAP in the financial sector, and I think that if the technical functionalities are used in the right way for the respective business model, it can help to standardize financial processes and create efficient, transparent procedures. Standardization and efficient system use don’t happen overnight. They require carefully considered action and the courage to make innovative changes.


The economic environment continues to be challenging. Fraunhofer is also under strain from the high energy prices. What does that mean for the organization’s finances?

This is a time full of different challenges that all impact on each other: restricted supply chains, inflation and global economic policy, energy prices, etc. This complexity requires us not only to respond to high prices, but also consider the consequences and possible impacts on our research activities and collaboration with industry. Working in conjunction with the institutes, we are using projection scenarios to create greater transparency around how these consequences will influence our financial development in 2023. It is also important for everyone to be open and flexible in order to help strengthen Fraunhofer’s resilience in these times.


Is there anything you’re really looking forward to doing in your new role?

Yes — working in the research environment and learning more about the innovative projects at the institutes. The high level of responsibility I’ll have for Fraunhofer as a whole, and how diverse my range of tasks will be. But at the end of the day, it’s a joint effort by the more than 30,800 employees. I’m looking forward to getting to know them.