Meet Aulikki, the innovation-focused CBDO who is committed to the long-term

“Staticus is not like other construction companies.” That’s the verdict of Aulikki Sonntag, Staticus’ Chief Business Development Officer (CBDO). And, with her wide-ranging career in engineering and design across both Europe and the US, she has plenty of experience to substantiate this view. “In the construction industry, Staticus is like a breath of fresh air.”

Aulikki’s journey with us started in 2020. “I was introduced to Ausra (Staticus’ CEO) through a mutual friend. Ausra invited me to Vilnius and introduced Staticus to me – she explained the mindset and the vision. It captivated me so much I decided to join.” Since then, Staticus has continuously grown in scale, entering new markets, growing the team, and landing higher-value projects. It has also evolved in nature, with a new sustainability strategy, impactful R&D projects, and a new company structure. With a remit that covers sustainability, innovation, sales, and business development, Aulikki has been central to these changes as Staticus’ CBDO.

So, we caught up with her to learn more about her experience at Staticus, why Staticus’ commitment to the long-term means so much to her, and much more.

What was it like when you first started at Staticus?

There was a clear culture. It was an environment that nourished transparency and fairness.

I joined Staticus right at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it was a challenging time to join. My immediate team members in Business Development were spread all over Europe and each country had different entry regulations at that time. So for me, joining the team remotely from Basel during the pandemic was certainly not ideal. It took me a long time to meet all of the members of my team in person and in one place together. But it worked, which is a good testament to the structure and Agile working principles practised at Staticus.

Overall, joining Staticus was like a breath of fresh air. I have seen a lot of construction companies but Staticus is different. It has modern work forms and welcomes diversity. There is huge momentum behind the execution of our strategies, and employees take pride in what they do.

I was welcomed very openly, with everyone being friendly and helpful. I noticed immediately that people here appreciate feedback. They are open-minded and ready to consider different ways of doing things – they embrace continuous learning, and there is a real drive to keep getting better.

And how do you take care of new colleagues that join your team?

Already during the hiring process, I aligned the expectations of the working environment in our cross-functional teams. I tell them that we’re still a young company. If someone wants a job where on day one you get taken to your desk and your task is: “Read binder A, follow paragraph 2 and then proceed to binder B and so on,” – well, that’s not how Staticus works.

Of course, we have our processes and frameworks that you need to be aware of. But the overall approach is all about you being proactive and bringing your unique skills and perspectives as an individual.

I like to say that here, you write the history yourself. If you come up with an idea, 100% of the time it will be welcomed. Sometimes these ideas will be adopted and have a big impact on what we’re doing, sometimes they won’t. But no one will ever laugh at you for bringing yourself in – in fact, it is appreciated. Because at Staticus we ask people not to hide in the machinery. Yes, you have your results and goals to achieve, but you have a lot of freedom to define how you do it.

This approach works because, during the hiring process, we look carefully at both competence and personality. Competence is very important because when you focus on it, a candidate’s background (their gender, nationality, appearance, etc.) becomes irrelevant. This approach has led to us having a very motivated and increasingly diverse team with a fair amount of female employees and leaders.

And personality matters, because our culture is quite unique and it’s important that you fit into it. You’re going to be part of a team, and while we’re not all exactly the same, we do have shared behaviours, expectations and approaches.

What are some of the best things about working at Staticus?

I would say one of the best things is Staticus’ long-term commitment. We conducted a positioning strategy a couple of years back, and there was one sentence that stood out – “we are committed to the long-term“.

What is important for me is that this commitment is genuine, and it is reflected across our activities and decision-making. We offer a full value chain, so we consider the big picture of an entire project. We make decisions that are not limited to outcomes within a specific fiscal year but are focused on long-term development. And we care a lot about our resilience and sustainability, about the well-being of our employees, about having strong and trusting partnerships. So, our commitment to the long-term encompasses everything.

Which project are you most proud of?

I don’t necessarily have one specific project, because in my role I am involved in a more multifaceted way. I have all of these different topics I’m responsible for, but they basically fit into two categories.

The first category is partnerships. This means working with our sales and business development team in close collaboration with our clients.

And second, there is innovation and sustainability work, which provides answers to the products and services we provide.

So, I don’t really have a favourite in terms of my responsibilities or projects. What I really appreciate is being able to work across and connect these two areas.

What new perspectives have you gained while working at Staticus?

We have an international team, which is also very open-minded, tolerant and rich in experience. So, in general, there is a lot of potential to gain new perspectives.

For me, it goes back to the two responsibilities I just mentioned: innovation and sustainability, and partnerships. It’s nice for me to get to use both the engineering and innovation part of my brain on our sustainability and R&D projects, and the commercial part for thinking about our partnerships.

And these go together hand-in-hand with each other. Because what you develop is also ultimately for your client. You can be innovative and create any kind of product you like, but if all it does is gather dust on the top shelf for the next 50 years, it’s a waste. So, with my roles I’m always thinking from the perspective: does the solution we’re developing have a real market value?

What have you learned while working at Staticus?

There’s a lot that I’ve learned because I’m constantly growing and expanding my knowledge. For me, this growth is very important in my professional life. In the end, I love my work, I love what I do and I love being busy joining the dots on challenging tasks. And for me, it’s very important that I’m somewhere where I can bring my ideas, share knowledge, and help to shape the future together with my colleagues.

Tell us a bit about your life outside of work.

First of all, I’m a pretty open-minded person. I’ve lived in many different places and travelled a lot. I like the richness of meeting different people, and the different experiences and viewpoints that they bring.

Above all, what I really love is music and dance. I have a very diverse taste in music. You might find me listening to a piano concert. But, as I’m a very energetic person, I really like to move to some faster beats, especially together with my friends.