Annika Sundell: Keys to Leading Sustainable Innovation in Industry

Annika Sundell

Explore Annika Sundell's vision on innovation and sustainability within Walki, and how her leadership drives the shift towards circular future. A deep focus on technology and collaboration.

Today, on International Women’s Day, we took the opportunity to talk to one of our inspiring women at Walki. Annika Sundell has in her role as Executive Vice President for Innovation, Business Development and Sustainability, been instrumental in helping our customers make the transitions towards a circular future.  

Equipped with graduate degree in polymer technology and with prior experience of leading companies as well as R&D teams, Annika has successfully navigated Walki’s innovation activities to support both business and sustainability objectives.

The past years have been characterized by fast change, both within Walki as well as in the world. How does Annika navigate change?

The challenge lies in the constantly shifting goalposts and the nuanced nature of measuring success. Unlike my previous roles where success was often quantifiable by a single financial metric, here it’s about breaking down complex objectives into manageable projects, milestones and tasks and set a new course when new insights demand it. Even though I got a clear mandate to drive Walki’s and our customers’ transition towards circularity, I have been surprised at the magnitude of change that is happening.

Walki Pietarsaari R&D Team

  Some of the Walki R&D team, together with Annika Sundell, at the production plant in Pietarsaari, Finland.

What is Annika’s secret to leading innovation for a sustainable future in our fast-changing world?

I try to demystify complexity and here transparency is key. I want my teams to remain connected to the bigger picture while tackling their individual challenges. In an industry driven by expertise and development, acknowledging ‘Eureka’ moments and underscoring the significance of teamwork is essential.”

What is motivating you the most?

I’ve always been curious to see how theoretical concepts work in real life, both in business and science. When I started studying polymer technology, compostable and biodegradable polymers were just in their cradle. And today at Walki we have the solutions in our portfolio! At Walki I’m inspired by the fact that we do not just innovate for the sake of business growth. We are shaping a future where our actions have a profound impact on the planet.

You can read more about Annika’s leadership philosophy in a recently published article in Finnish :