We met Sohvi Rajamäki, newly appointed board member of Citec Group, for a chat about board work in general and how Sohvi looks at Citec after a couple of months on board.
Sohvi, please tell us a little a bit about your background!
– I am Finnish but have spent much of my work life abroad and in international roles. I have spent three years in Germany and a year in Thailand, Sohvi says. My professional experience derives very much from business leadership, business transformation as well as from mergers and acquisitions implementation. I have spent more than 20 years in leadership roles at Nokia Networks, very often in roles close to business development and product development. Since three years, I have been employed by Schneider Electric, a company with presence in more than 100 countries and employing more than 170 000 individuals. Schneider Electric is a leading company within digital transformation of energy management and automation, using for instance IoT-enabled solutions to seamlessly connect, collect, analyse and act on data in real-time delivering enhanced safety, efficiency, reliability, and sustainability. Currently I am the Managing Director for the Baltic countries. In addition to Citec, I am also a board member of Suomen Erillisverkot (State Security Networks Ltd) since 2012.
How did you get in touch with Citec and when did the opportunity as board member arise?
– I belong to a network of Finnish female senior business executives, through which I received the initial request from Sentica. Then I met with representatives from Sentica and Christer Niemi, the Chairman of the Board, asked if I would be interested in joining the board. This was in the spring of 2018 and here I am, Sohvi laughs!
Why do you believe they asked you?
– During the discussion with the majority shareholder Sentica, it became evident that my “hands-on” international experience from working in a large corporation in Germany, with its specific cultural requirements, was seen as beneficial. Also my understanding of working with, and more importantly from developing, really big customer accounts was seen as relevant. I also possess personal experience from India-Europe operating models.
Did you know Citec beforehand and why did you find Citec interesting?
– Yes, I did know Citec – actually from several years back, Sohvi comments. When Nokia Networks outsourced a part its technical documentation to Citec, I headed the organisation at Nokia Networks that remained in the interface from us at Networks towards Citec. I was not involved in the outsourcing process itself, but I got involved later on. Why is Citec interesting? Well, first of all I am a very curious person who wants to learn constantly. The business segment and model is known to me only from the client’s perspective, so I see this as an opportunity to gain new experience also for myself. Secondly, I also of course want to provide insight and give additional value to company via the board work. I find Citec interesting because the company sits right between the interface between technology and business, and I am very interested to explore how companies can utilise technologies as enablers for improved and new business. Coming from an international world, I also highly value the diversity in Citec. I think the opportunity to work with different cultures should be embraced as it gives you so much back, not only on a professional level. I think Citec is in a very interesting phase, Sohvi sums up.
You’re one of five board members. What do you want to bring in to the Board of Directors work?
– As you say, I am one of five and I am new in this role. My first take is to listen a lot and try to grasp in what business environment Citec navigates. In general, my approach to board work is to ask a lot of questions, which at best can spark new ideas or uncover a line of thinking not previously considered.
What does the board work like in practice?
– The Board of Directors comprises of various competences and it is very important to have this kind of diversity. Although the chairman formally leads the meetings, we are equal in provide expertise based on our previous experience. We try to bring in different views and insights – some might see issues or challenges from the engineering or leadership side, some from financial or risk management perspectives. Eventually, I hope we will be a team that provides support to the CEO and the company. We are therefore available also outside of the formal board meetings if and when needed. However, we provide strategic guidance, but the operations is run by the management to 100 percent. In addition to the standard items on the agenda in the monthly meetings, we have so far touched upon items such as the global account developments, the Citec Gate Model and the Business Process Model, Sohvi says.
You are the first ever female board member of Citec. In one interview, you mention Sari Baldauf (former CEO of Nokia Networks) as one of your role models. Why?
– That’s true. I came to look upon Sari as a role model during my early career at Nokia Networks. Her leadership, business mind-set and professionalism in everything she did, was truly impressive in a male dominated business environment. Although I am a different person, I think she set a good standard for a female leader in a technical industry.
How do you see the future of Citec?
– Although I do not have a crystal ball, I think the foundation and market potential are there. The engineering business as such is growing globally and we are well positioned as we are present in many countries and today have substantial customer accounts. Being satisfied and staying with the status quo is dangerous in the long run in any industry. When the financials improve, I definitely think that Citec should investigate new technologies as enablers for more business. Automation, Internet of Things are steaming hot in the engineering industry and they are exciting value added items to bring into our core products and into the customer interface.
Name three words that you connect to Citec?
– It has to be Global, Expertise and Fighting spirit. That’s it, says Sohvi.
Thanks for the chat, Sohvi!
Board of directors, Citec Group:
• Christer Niemi, Chairman of the Board, Partner, Sentica Partners
• Sohvi Rajamäki, Managing Director Baltics, Schneider Electric
• Olli Väätäinen, CEO, Solteq Oyj
• Clas-Eirik Strand, CEO/Owner, MarTech Engineering GmbH
• Rune Westergård, Founder of Citec