“In 20 years, we marvel at how GreenIron’s revolutionary technology has increased the circularity of our industry.”

On paper, Ulrika Molander is the COO of GreenIron, but as the team is still small, her responsibilities are broad with everyone chipping in where needed. In her role, Ulrika oversees the operation of GreenIron’s facilities, which involves managing, measuring, monitoring, and streamlining production, alongside the organisation that’s being developed. Additionally, Ulrika is in charge of supply chain management, ensuring synchronised flows into and out of the factories, linked to procurement, planning, logistics, etc.

Ulrika grew up in Finspång, Östergötland, a traditional industrial town known worldwide for companies like STAL (later ASEA) that manufactured turbines and Sapa (formerly Metallverken and Gränges), now the world’s largest producer of aluminum profiles. As a child, Ulrika had a keen interest in animals and dreamed of the family getting a dog, but instead, she ended up with stick insects, lizards, tadpoles, and guinea pigs as pets. Athletics filled her youth, with running as her favored discipline. Her passion for music led to playing the piano and singing in choirs. Her early dreams revolved around becoming a veterinarian or opera singer, with a simultaneous fascination for technology—perhaps inspired by her engineer father and her favorite childhood toy, the Meccano building set.

“After high school in Finspång, I opted for the University of Borås where one could train as a process engineer, specialising in textiles, which well suited my plans to blend creativity with technology,” Ulrika recalls.

Her professional career began at the end of the ‘80s with a position as a laboratory engineer at Scandiafelt (now Voith) in Högsjö, a world leader in manufacturing press felt for pulp and paper mills. But Ulrika wanted to be closer to production and hence moved to Strömma Textil in Norrköping as a production technician. When the manufacturing later closed down and moved to Borås, Ulrika started working as a sales technician supporting the sales organisation, both in Sweden and internationally.

After a parental leave in 1996, Ulrika bid farewell to textiles and hello to aluminum, taking a position as a planning engineer at Sapa in Finspång. She soon climbed the ranks, first as logistics manager, then as planning director at the company’s headquarters in Vetlanda. Yet, the longing to be back on the factory floor became too strong, and Ulrika took on the role of plant manager at one of Sapa’s extrusion plants. After a few years, she was offered a place in the management team with the assignment to build a supply chain organisation for Sapa in the Nordics, including Lithuania and China, focusing on planning, raw material procurement, inventory management, transport, and more.

Back to production again! First as a Manufacturing Director for in-house and external workshops within and outside of Sweden. Then as Operations Director, overseeing all production including smelting, extrusion, and finishing, focusing on achieving better coordination between the various facilities. It was an exciting, enjoyable, and enlightening period, but after 12 years at Sapa, it was time for new challenges.

Somewhat by chance, the Molander family moved north. This time the job that lured her was as CEO for BDX in Luleå, a group specialising in logistics, construction and industrial services. However, after just a few years, Ulrika completed her assignment and it was time to return to the industry.

Ulrika’s next position was as Vice President Manufacturing at Systemair, a leading ventilation company with operations in 51 countries and headquartered in Skinnskatteberg. Her time at Systemair can be summarised as successfully working with her competent development team to develop and streamline the company’s 30 factories worldwide.

Ulrika was very happy at Systemair and had no intention of changing jobs, but in January 2022, she met GreenIron’s CEO, Edvard Murray, and was captivated by the company’s groundbreaking technology. The opportunity to work at the heart of the green transition within the mining and metal industry and to be part of building a company from scratch was too tantalising to resist.

“My lack of patience has sometimes made me run too fast, but an important lesson has been to pause, listen, and involve the employees in developing the operation,” Ulrika said. “I don’t like to brag, but I believe I’m pretty good at building teams and selling my ideas and thoughts, with an ability to feel as comfortable on the factory floor as when formulating strategies at my desk.”

Ulrika’s commitment to the environment and nature has been strong since she was a child. She has spent countless hours in the woods, participated in cross-country races, and trained dogs for hunting. Concern for the environment has gradually grown as she has witnessed the consequences of climate change on the natural environment. In all her roles at various companies, there has been a focus on caring for our natural resources and energy, sorting different waste fractions, etc.

During 2024, Ulrika’s main focus is to launch GreenIron’s first factory in Sandviken in the spring. Within five years, she predicts and hopes that GreenIron will be an international group with subsidiaries across many countries and continents. And that reducing waste and by-products from the mining and metal industry will be the focus at GreenIron’s facilities.

“In 20 years, we’ll marvel at how GreenIron has become a global major player and that our revolutionary technology has opened the door to increased circularity within the industry. The organisation is founded on strong values and has a flat structure with responsible and creative employees who all develop through increased responsibility,” explains Ulrika. “We celebrate GreenIron’s successes and can proudly say that we have contributed to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, thereby helping to create a greener and healthier planet.”