Leadership Talks – Part 2: Growing the business while running it

Outi Sivonen Chief Human Resources Officer, Solita

Published 14 Jun 2024

Reading time 3 min

What does it take to lead a European tech company with over 2,000 passionate and culture-driven professionals – successfully, year after year, in times like these? What have been, are, and will be the recipes for success at Solita? How do you grow the business while running it? And – what is it that we should lead and how? 

At Solita, a growth company achieving nearly 20% annual growth since 1996 through both organic expansion and strategic acquisitions, fostering discussions and a shared understanding of these topics is essential.

That is why we decided to create Leadership Talks.

Leadership Talks is a concept we started this year to gather our Country and Group Leads – to think, reflect and learn together; to challenge our thinking and dig deeper into essential: what is it that we lead and how. The journey started at the end of March in Warsaw where we gathered our leaders from Poland (Future Mind), Denmark (Intellishore and Solita AS), Norway, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, and Finland.

Growing the business while running it: “Long-term customer relationships are a must”

In our first session, we discussed recipes for success – what these have been for us and what we think these will be in the future. Views from our employees were also gathered.

In our second session last week it was time to dig deeper into how we grow the business while running it. Before that, we all read the book “Scaling People” by Claire Hughes Johnson, the former COO of Stripe, where she shares her learnings on essential operating principles, planning, intentional team development, feedback mechanisms and more – all in the context of growth.

Well, Solita is not Stripe, but food for thought is usually good to get from outside – it helps you to find more viewpoints in your own thinking and can clarify what are the elements crucial in your community’s context. From the basis of our recipes for success, we identified key elements of our success.

  • Customer centricity – we help them to succeed, and they love to work with us. We believe in long-term partnerships – once we start cooperation, our clients rarely want to discontinue it.
  • Leaning forward – We stay curious and always strive to keep developing. We trust that our customers will do the same.
  • Growth Minded – having the mindset both as a community and as individuals. Growth is always a result of curiosity.
  • Continuously evolving – we are running a marathon and perfecting our performance constantly.

Areas where these elements are clearly visible in our everyday lives are obviously sales and marketing, recruitment and talent and leading production in the long and short term – but most of all it is visible in how we approach and lead customers. As we discussed the topic, it was clear how fundamental this is for long-term growth and success. Not to mention the impact we want to have on the customers’ success and for the good of society at large.

What are then the most crucial capabilities we identified for long-lasting customer relationships:

  • Professional account management with dedicated Account Directors – building trust and partnerships year by year, not selling one-offs and leave.
  • A wide, state-of-the-art and up-to-date set of services which support each other.
  • Professional Project Managers and lead technical personnel as a strong force in identifying value-creation opportunities for our customers and supporting in selling them.
  • Experts work closely with the customers and their problems.

We clearly saw as a team that only with long-lasting customer relationships can we fulfil our purpose: to have an impact that lasts. Only with this mindset can we truly be partners and have that customer-centric approach: tailoring projects to need. Only with this mindset can we have those strategic partnerships with best-of-breed tech vendors, which we have created.

It all comes back to people. How we build relationships with customers. How we build relationships within Solita to offer the best combination of skills and expertise. How we build the joint Solita story forward.

Our next leadership session will focus on how we should lead all this. We as leaders, as individuals, and us as a leadership team. What kind of leaders we are, and what we should learn from that.  

  1. Business