Building a new corporate brand, like Alleima, requires a clearly defined vision and a strong corporate culture. Meet Ulrika Dunker, Executive Vice President & Head of Human Resources at Alleima, to find out how she approaches key issues like leadership and Diversity & Inclusion (D&I).

It goes without saying that leadership is crucial as we look to the future of the new Alleima. Could you please tell us about your personal approach to it?

As we state in our core values, we care, we deliver, and we evolve. This is not just something we say; I think it’s truly reflected in our culture and our behavior. As a third-generation employee who grew up in Sandviken, I started my career here, left the company in 2016, but chose to come back in 2020. I’m proud of the history of Alleima, and my focus now is firmly on our future together.

The reason we have been successful for more than 160 years is that we’ve always looked to the future, constantly evolving, and adapting to new circumstances and this is something we’ll continue to do as Alleima. Our culture is a key to our success. Together, we can evolve and spark innovation.

Caring is important to our company, but it’s also important to me as a person and a leader. I believe in leading with integrity that dares to be personal without overstepping people’s private boundaries. For leaders who are often very driven, results-focused individuals, I think it’s important that they are invested in the company and its success, but never lose sight of what makes this company great: our employees, and our people.

Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) are higher up on the agenda than ever. What are your thoughts on D&I and how do you implement them at Alleima?

Diversity to us means including and respecting all individuals, regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, background, education, sexuality, or any other factor. We may not always share the same beliefs or opinions, but the important thing is that we are willing to listen, accept and respect things that are different.

Rather than seeing our differences as a hurdle to overcome, I believe diversity is a strength, a powerful dynamic that we can harness to become stronger and more innovative as a company.

What can a modern company like Alleima do to stand out from the competition in terms of corporate culture and D&I?

I’ll be honest, we are not world leaders when it comes to D&I – at least not yet. D&I is part of our strategy and an area we are actively working to improve. We have partnered with the AllBright Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes equality and diversity at the executive business level in Sweden. They are doing an in-depth study of our organization to give us a clear understanding of our current state.

Our next step is to analyze the results, set up targets and agree on activities that will support development. Every year we will also measure the perceived feeling of inclusion among our employees. D&I at Alleima is an ongoing process and we still have a lot of work to do.

How did we build a supportive workplace and how can we preserve it for future generations?

Our roots are in Swedish industry and a big part of that culture has been to take care of the community, often built around the local factory. As a company, we have contributed to the building of schools, sports halls, and social initiatives, for example, so community spirit is strongly embedded in our culture.

Ulrika Dunker, EVP and Head of HROn the one hand, we are an exciting, innovative company with a growth strategy, but we also have clear values, and our employees feel a strong sense of loyalty. They are truly committed to preserving and developing Alleima for future generations.

That is something we often hear when we talk to our employees, no matter where they are in the world. It’s a decent company with solid values and good leaders. It’s a company where everyone is valued equally regardless of who they are or where they come from.

How can we ensure that future employees know what Alleima stands for?

Our new Employee Value Proposition (EVP) describes our brand strategy and plans for what we call “advancing together”. The EVP was developed through a co-creation process involving people from different parts of our organization with diverse backgrounds. Going forward, we will use it when engaging with existing and new potential employees.

The phrase “where culture sparks innovation” is at the core of our EVP and our entire corporate culture.

As a new company that is smaller than before, what is Alleima doing to build a corporate brand that is relevant and exciting to both current employees and future recruits?

A brand is built from the inside out. It starts with people, it is emotional, and it reflects what you do, how you do it, your commitment to quality and delivering on time, but also to fair leadership.

As a new company, we need to reinforce these values. That’s why we’re launching a new leadership program. We bring back many of the good things from the company we left, but there are also aspects that need to be modernized.

I see Alleima as a 160-year-old startup, built on a very solid foundation of values, but also more agile, with a clear growth strategy, and the ability to manage volatility, to adapt quickly to the changing world – and do that in a way that’s sustainable.

Our strategy can be summarized as “advancing together”, which means working closely with our customers, always focusing on innovation and sustainability.

How can every employee contribute to creating a more inclusive culture?

I believe we can all actively choose to act according to the Alleima values. We can make a conscious effort to demonstrate care, respect, and inclusion. To be honest, I think these values are already very present in our organization – I see good examples of how they are implemented daily.

For example, as everyone probably knows, a fire broke out at our factory in August. When I visited the site a few weeks ago, I met the shift team that was on-site the day of the fire and I could see how proud they were of how they had handled the situation, of the trust they felt for each other, and of their commitment to putting the safety of their colleagues above all else.

This caring mindset comes naturally, but we can also remind ourselves of it and reinforce our commitment to it every single day.