Investment and Inclusion

Unlocking Success through Effective Communication

Project Management

Ulrika Hellman, Vice President of Mergers & Acquisition, Systemair Group Management, discusses how culture and communication are critical to successful integration and what investing in women, the 2024 International Women’s Day theme, means to her.

With a strong background in corporate and advisory mergers and acquisitions (M&A), Ulrika Hellman has been working with cross-border M&A for more than 25 years in the industrial, telecom, IT and MedTech sectors upon joining the Systemair Group Management Team as Vice President of M&A. In this new role, she brings her extensive experience working on many types of transactions, including acquisitions, divestments, stock exchange listings, and capital raisings for companies of all sizes.

Since the beginning of February, Hellman has been responsible for Systemair’s M&A activities, which cover the entire process from identifying acquisition targets through the transaction to closure and integration. "Understanding the whole M&A process and the challenges and complexities it entails is crucial for success,” she says. “This includes assessing the target company´s financial, legal, tax and operational aspects but also understanding differences in corporate culture and management style. Being mindful of cultural differences is key since this, in fact, is one of the main reasons when acquisitions are not successful. Cultural and language barriers can affect communication and integration efforts, and require extra focus and planning in cross-border acquisitions.”

This is why communication emerges as a cornerstone in Hellman's approach, stressing the importance of physical meetings. “Meeting people in real life is where you actually move projects and acquisitions forward,” she says. “To acquire a company is one hundred per cent about trust from both sides, and this is hard to accomplish only through Teams meetings.”

Investing in women

In cross-border M&A, Hellman addresses that navigating cultural differences is important, also with regard to gender inclusion.

We address the need to make positive changes that support Systemair’s values, which also include identifying women within an organisation that could grow and fulfil positions in higher management.

Sharing her experience in the workforce, Hellman recalls often being the only woman in meetings during her professional life. “In recent years, however, this has started to change – which I welcome,” she says. “More women are having leadership positions also in more strategic roles - not only support functions – which is also important in order to minimise gender barriers and improve diversity. I personally think a better gender balance results in working environments that give access to broader perspectives and ideas. Diverse teams bring a range of insights and approaches to problem-solving, leading to innovative solutions and enhanced decision-making processes while homogeneous groups tend to think alike and often come up with the same solution to problems.”

Addressing the significance of International Women’s Day and its theme of "Invest in women: Accelerate progress," she highlights how diversity is more than just recruiting and corporate branding. “It is about creating a corporate culture that understands that the company can benefit from being more gender-balanced, not just internally but also externally,” she says.

Hellman points out that diversity is also part of the ESG aspects that investors and banks are rating when assessing companies to invest in or lend money to. “Several studies indicate that more gender-balanced companies are more likely to outperform when it comes to profitability, productivity, and in terms of strengthening the company brand and attracting and retaining employees. Factors that have a positive effect on valuation and limit perceived risks by the financial community,” she says.

“Women in leadership roles inspire and encourage other women both within the organisation and externally in a competitive business environment. If you think about it, it is quite simple – to find the best talent, you should not limit the recruitment base.”

Cultivating Systemair values

Hellman reiterates that Systemair contributes by setting internal guidelines and actively promoting gender equality. “We believe that equality and diversity in general represent a key factor in ensuring our continued growth,” she says. “One of Systemair’s goals for 2025 is to achieve at least 25 per cent female leaders.” 

Hellman also touches on group-wide rules and guidance on diversity and inclusion (D&I), representing an essential part of Systemair’s corporate culture. She says that creating awareness, setting requirements, and continuously improving on these topics contribute to Systemair’s long-term success, highlighting the importance of solid communication across these aspects. “Economic growth, profitability, as well as providing and maintaining an attractive and healthy workplace are all enabled by Diversity and Inclusion.”