Contributing to a sustainable world

Annika Sundell has an extensive experience from product development, encompassing both the medical and the packaging industry.

Author: Johan Svenlin

Contributing to a sustainable world

In August this year, Annika Sundell joined the Walki Group as EVP, Innovation. She will also lead the Technical Competence Centre in Pietarsaari. During her career she has gained extensive experience from polymer technology and the medical industry. With her new job at Walki, she's adding wood fibre to that list.

Tell us about your career so far?

"I studied at Åbo Akademi in Turku, Finland, and after graduation I did some research in polymer technology and controlled release of pharmaceuticals. After that I worked with research and development at a pharmaceutical company in Turku. In 2005 I moved to Ostrobothnia to work for KWH Plast, a polymer film producer in Pietarsaari. I got responsibility for all R&D and then went on to being CEO for the company. In 2011, the company was acquired by Schur Flexibles. I took over as the managing director for the company. Later I got the responsibility to head another company in Denmark that belonged to the group. When I left Schur Flexibles, both companies where in good shape. We could reap the rewards of the efforts we invested in R&D and now both companies are doing well.

And then you got the offer from Walki. What caught your interest?

"Yes. I knew Walki from before. The group has very interesting products and has evolved into a very fascinating company with a lot of new and innovative products in the different business lines.

What inspires you in your work?

"I thrive when I get to develop new things. An innovation doesn't necessarily have to be revolutionary – some times small innovations too can have a big impact, such as new work methods. I think you need a pipeline of innovations with different steps so you know exactly where in the process you are. It's important that the knowhow and cooperation is multidisciplinary. You also need a company culture that promotes openness and where there is no room for fear.

Have you set any goals for your self in your new job?

"We have a good platform for further developing Walki's great R& D tradition of tackling future challenges. I want to develop new materials and processes that contribute to a sustainable world while also delivering added value to our customers.

What innovations are the most acute for tackling global warming?

"We need to create a sustainable circular economy and establish new standards. A big challenge is that many innovations can't be taken into use because the market is not prepared to pay the extra price for the innovations. That's why it's important that you also factor in the business element in innovation activities."

You know a lot about polymers. How about wood fibres?

"That will be a new area for me, but I count on my colleagues to back me up with their enormous knowledge of wood fibres. I will bring my knowledge on polymers to the table, something that is important for Walki to stay in the forefront of developing new types of materials.

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