As Staticus activities continue to develop rapidly in the UK market, we have appointed a new UK Regional Director – Aaron Dehara. Aaron has been our UK Preconstruction Manager for the past 3 years and brings a deep knowledge of the UK market and a strong focus on client-centricity to his new role. We had an in-depth conversation with Aaron to learn more about his experiences with Staticus so far, his personal aspirations, and his vision for the UK team’s growth and development.
What was it like when you first started at Staticus?
I joined Staticus 3 years ago, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. So it was a strange time to join and a very different situation to today. I was working remotely and the UK team was relatively small, although we were very well supported by the team in Lithuania.
I had moved to Staticus from the international projects team at WICONA, an Aluminium facade systems company. So I was familiar with working in an international context and liked this aspect of the role.
In 3 years, the situation has completely changed. Our turnover in the UK market has tripled since 2021, and the team has expanded a lot, with highly skilled people joining us. It is this collective strength of the whole team that has enabled us to achieve the results that we are all proud of.
What was your initial role and how has your career developed since then?
I joined as a Preconstruction Manager with a focus on business development. While my position hasn’t changed over the past 3 years, my role has evolved as the local market turnover and our team have grown.
When I came on board, the UK office had a couple of team members and was operating as a local subsidiary of the Staticus Group. Staticus had an established track record in the market – having delivered multiple projects in the UK by the time I joined. So we had great references and some very well-established partners.
My main role was to strengthen our UK pipeline of projects and our relationships with key project stakeholders. We have done this by focusing on our core values of long-term partnerships and transparency, which we really promote. These values are our key to succeeding in this market, where regulations are (rightly) strict, solutions are generally bespoke and there are a lot of risks and challenges to mitigate to ensure the project is successful for all parties. When these challenges are tackled in a collaborative and open way we see that better results are achieved for everyone involved. With this focus, we built on our existing relationships and also sought like-minded partners who operate with similar values as us.
So overall, the role has grown over these years. Today, there are 15 of us in the UK team (and growing every month). We have a very well-resourced bid team which I have been overseeing on a day-to-day basis.
What makes Staticus a unique place to work?
Staticus fosters a very good work environment. I really enjoy working with the people here, and compared to UK companies there is a ‘Scandinavian’ mindset, with a lot of focus towards a positive work-life balance.
One point I would emphasise is how empowering the management and structure are here. Aušra (Vankeviciute, Staticus’ CEO) and the whole C-level team are very supportive, giving you the authority and the responsibility to make decisions. I think this is shown in our adoption of Agile principles throughout the business. We’re still relatively young as an Agile organisation, but it’s certainly making its mark in the industry and we even see its adoption by some of our UK clients recently. Agile working allows me as an individual, my colleagues, and our teams here in the UK, to be empowered to make a difference.
And what’s important is that the company isn’t just talking the talk regarding Agile. These principles are really lived day-to-day and we are starting to see the benefits.
What excites you the most about your new role?
I’m most excited about continuing to grow with Staticus, a company I really enjoy working at. I’d like to think I’m still relatively young, and this role is a very good opportunity for my continued professional development.
I want to focus on becoming a more well-rounded leader. While I will be continuing with many of the activities I am currently doing, with this position I will be taking on more responsibility for the UK market as a whole. Taking on a wider scope beyond pre-construction within the UK market, being more involved with our whole value chain. I will also work in collaboration with Ignas and Paulius (our COO and CPO) who oversee the operational side of project realisation. As client relationship management is something that is really important to me and that I enjoy, I will remain responsible for ensuring our team builds the strategic partnerships that can ultimately take our annual revenue up to €100 million in the UK market contributing to the overall growth strategies of Staticus Group.
That’s the challenge, but I will be taking on these responsibilities with the stewardship and support of a very experienced senior leadership team with whom I have built very strong and trusting relationships.
What opportunities do you envision for the team and the company in the (UK) market?
At Staticus we bring a different approach to what is a very competitive, saturated, and highly regulated market. With many facade contractors operating in the market, differentiation is key and with our Strategic plans to develop innovative, sustainable, and unique solutions we are very well placed to answer to the needs of our clients.
Due to the recent economic pressures created by rising inflation and higher interest rates, set within the context of increasing statutory regulations and requirements, project viability is under severe pressure. Whilst value engineering is really important in these conditions, you need transparency and strong, trust-based partnerships to ensure that the right value engineering solutions are presented, that represent good value and maintain minimum standards are achieved. With the support of a very experienced team, this is an area in which we have excelled to date.
Our focus on digitalisation and sustainability, and our new strategy for negotiation which is focused on value creation, all help to unlock real value for our partners. With the further application of these strategies in the coming years we will seek further growth and strengthen our UK market position, as one of the market-leading facade specialists.
Another strength is our in-house quality standards which are of paramount importance. The presence of experienced facade consultants is very common in the UK market, compared to other markets. This puts the onus on us to not only design suitable solutions but to systematically prove our compliance and document the delivered products that meet the Employer Requirements. The CWCT testing standards we have to meet in the UK are also more onerous than in many other markets. With the enactment of The Building Safety Act, the industry faces further challenges to prove the competence of their staff, their solutions, and their whole value chain. These will go on top of the already stringent regulations which have quite rightly been under scrutiny since the Grenfell Tower tragedy. This presents an opportunity for Staticus, as we prioritise our delivered quality and ‘golden thread’ of documentation.
What is your vision for the team’s growth and achievements under your leadership?
We already have a great team that is very competent and with an excellent mix of qualities. A few of our team have been with Staticus for a very long time, while some are new. This brings a great mix of consistency and fresh perspectives to the team. There is a good mix of age and cultural backgrounds and a balance between technical, construction, and management competencies which makes the local team very well-rounded in all aspects.
So my approach will be to lead by example and to encourage and support this team to grow and further develop themselves as individuals.
So that’s my personal vision, and then the company has a very clear strategic growth vision. Our turnover growth is definitely on target, and our aim is to get annual revenue in the UK market up to €80 million in 2024 and ultimately reach €100 million.
As you would imagine, this means we are going to be adding to the team. The aim is to be strategic with our recruitment and think carefully about how we build project teams, which could include hiring more local colleagues.
One specific goal we have is to improve the efficiency of our bidding and achieve a higher hit rate by selecting the right partners and the right projects to tender. We don’t want to be “busy fools.” By improving the efficiency of our work with the right clients, and proving the value we can add, we can grow our turnover in line with our targets by being smarter with our project selection. To do this, we will have to be even more proactive and engage early, getting in front of decision-makers at an early stage and providing good-value, high-quality, and innovative solutions.
What personal aspirations do you have as you take on this new role?
We have an ambitious strategy for growth in the UK, and my personal growth will have to go hand-in-hand with that, which is something I am really looking forward to. Over the past 6 years, I have been studying for my Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering, which I have just completed. So, I am very motivated to continue learning and this role will help a lot with my personal development.
I will work hard to keep pace with the key market trends and ever-changing regulatory requirements happening in the UK market so I can provide clear guidance to the senior leadership team on how to resource this market and help them to understand its specifics.
This will also be about tracking our customer’s needs and being responsive to them. This is something Ausra is very keen on, and I wholeheartedly share her perspective. We need to be as client-centric as we possibly can be, and follow the needs of our clients while developing relations with investors and growing in the market from a brand awareness perspective.
Tell us a bit about your life outside of work.
Having just finished my degree, I have some more time outside of work. I live in Ashford, Kent, and travel to London most days. So on weekends, I like to be here in the countryside, away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. This could be going walking by the coast or hiking or just spending quality time with friends and family.
I have a teenage daughter which is an amazing privilege, but also means I’m a part-time taxi driver as well. With more free time on my hands after completing my recent dissertation I am keen to get back into good habits, especially playing indoor football and running which help me to relax and unwind after a busy day.
Finally, I love travelling to new places as I have a keen interest in new cultures, history, and people. I travel to Vilnius about once a month, and I keep threatening to take a week off to explore Lithuania, as it’s a very beautiful country with very friendly people and a very relaxed environment.