Moving on up

is finally shaking off its image as a dead end for careers. Philip Whiteley
identifies the 20 HR directors who have made it to the top of their
organisations – including eight who made it to CEO

1998, Fortune magazine, reviewing its list of the 50 most powerful women in
business, noted that they all "steered clear of the dead-end ‘R’
departments – PR, IR, HR – that tend to be holding bins for women". It
could not state this now.

11 May 2000, Anne Mulcahy, former vice-president of HR at Xerox, became its
president. She followed Karen Beard, who became president, North America, of
ANC Rental, following a career that included a spell in charge of HR. The HR
profession is finally established as a route to the top.

for the first time, are the top 20 senior executives with a background in HR.
They did not spend just a token few months in personnel, but cut their corporate
teeth in such matters as training, employee relations and succession planning.
They are also senior executives of major businesses in manufacturing and
services, and a few are recognised thinkers and speakers on the business
conference circuit.

example, in March this year, executive vice-president of luxury goods group
LVMH, the HR professional Concetta Lanciaux, was named by the Wall Street
Journal as one of the 30 most influential businesspeople in Europe. Leif
Edvinsson, another in our list, is widely regarded as the pioneer of the theory
of intellectual capital, which is increasingly recognised as key to competitive

trend is inevitable and will strengthen. Managing people is now more important
than managing the numbers, as skills requirements increase and the bulk of
companies’ value is tied up in talent, rather than fixed assets. For the senior
manager, a knowledge of teamwork and group psychology is now of at least equal
importance to awareness of costs, technology, capital and competitors. While HR
managers are increasingly aware of the need to learn the business and its
objectives, what is equally clear is that general managers who are ignorant of
how to manage people will struggle.

pioneers in the Anglo-Saxon world, such as Karen Beard, follow a more
established trend in Japanese manufacturers, where the practice of
cross-functional teamwork and gaining experience in different departments mean
that several senior managers have had experience in HR at some stage in their
formation. Examples include Tetsuya Katada, chair of Komatsu, and Isao Kaneko,
president of Japan Airlines, both of whom are profiled here.

is still some way to go. Engineering-related professions remain the most likely
route to Japanese and continental European boardrooms, while finance and
marketing are common in the English-speaking world.

is sure to be different in ten years’ time. "We will see more HR people
taking up very senior positions on the boards of organisations as the
platitudes that staff are the most important asset become reality," says
John Mahoney-Phillips, head of human capital at Swiss bank UBS.

are the only differentiator in an incredibly competitive market where
technology, location, speed of communication and even, to some extent, products
are only short-term differentiators."

a former consultant at UK-based HR consultancy SHL, points out that investment
analysts now employ a growth premium – a value put on the innovative capacity
of a company’s people – and that this can be as high as 60% of total worth for
General Electric or 74% in the case of Cisco.

will become essential for senior management to be very close and responsive to
their workforce, especially as the workforce becomes more demanding and more
protected legally," he says.

Duffy, founder and chief executive of business and recruitment consultancy
mkworldwide, comments, "If you look at the 1980s, the vast majority of
companies looked at capital being the key differentiator. In the 1990s, people
viewed technology as the priority. From 2000 onwards, it is about people."

most employers, while they incorporate the principle of regarding staff as the
greatest asset in their rhetoric, still treat them "like conscripts, not
volunteers", Duffy says. This has to change. "When we talk to
companies about recruitment I will ask them, ‘What is your retention? Let us
focus on retention first – it is by far your best recruitment methodology’."

fail to make the most of their "most valuable asset" by neglecting to
develop existing staff – and by failing to use them to gain employee referrals
as a recruitment tactic, Duffy says.

Ian Gibson, chairman of Nissan Motor Iberica and a former personnel manager at
Ford, argues that it was a historic mistake to have separated management of
people from general management theory. "In my early days, dealing with
labour issues was the role of the personnel specialist only. This was terribly
unhelpful, because management is about motivating and gaining the best out of
the workforce – it is not about being a better analyst or production engineer.
You cannot separate emotional and relationship aspects and say it belongs to
someone else – that is why it is called management, not number crunching."

characteristic identifies the individuals featured in our top 20: they nearly
all spent years in the line. Even some of those who have spent most of their
careers in HR began in another specialism, and they all urge personnel managers
wishing to follow their example to "learn the business".

surprise in the list is the contribution of the car industry – a feature across
the globe, from Europe to North America, Australasia and Japan. A common theme
among those with a background in car manufacturing was a taste of hostile
industrial relations in the 1970s – or a few years earlier in the case of
Japan. The silver lining from this particularly dark cloud has been that
extremely poor employee relations at least exposes their strategic importance.
Nothing can be achieved if the workforce does not wish it.

strikes were common, they were an alibi for poor managers. Now they will not be
tolerated. Rod Eddington, who appears on the list having served as a personnel
manager at Cathay Pacific in the 1980s, was head-hunted to lead British Airways
in 2000, partly to help repair employee relations. The carrier had suffered a
disastrous strike in 1997, costing around £150m (approximately $225m).

appointing Eddington, BAchairman Lord Marshall said, "The board is looking
for someone who has the necessary people skills. He has a well-deserved
reputation in the airline industry for his leadership, people and management

evidence, in research by Rutgers University, Stanford University and the London
Business School among others, shows that those companies that put welfare and
development of staff as a high priority do better than companies that emphasise
cost control. This should give HR managers confidence. The bean-counters have
had their turn.

M Mulcahy
President and chief operating officer, Xerox Corporation

to the top

in May 2000, Mulcahy is responsible for the day-to-day activities of the giant
office systems and equipment provider, and is probably the most influential
former HR manager in business. It is an impressive achievement for someone
turned down 12 times for managerial posts before being accepted as a sales
representative at Xerox in 1976.

has combined line management roles and HR positions throughout her 25 years at
the company. She was promoted to her current post from the position of
president general markets operations within the group, which had a $6bn
turnover and 6,000 staff, accounting for around 30% of Xerox’s revenue.

to this, she was senior vice-president and chief staff officer, responsible for
HR, quality, communications, advertising, Internet marketing and government
relations. She assumed this post in 1998.

before this, she had served as vice-president and staff officer for customer
operations covering South and Central America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Between
1992 and 1995 she was vice-president for HR. Mulcahy had worked her way up to
this post through a variety of sales and management positions in her early
career at Xerox.

the HR background helps

the human resources team at Xerox was one of the most valuable jobs of my
career. Without that experience, I may not have been as successful in the
operations positions that I subsequently held. Obviously, one of the most
important parts of leading a business is leading the people within it,"
she says.

for those starting out

the HR experience to its full potential, not play it down. Sometimes there is a
concern in business today that moving from a business group or sales region
management role to an HR position is a lateral or downward step. I am living
proof that this perception is wrong."

to the top

Edvinsson is not simply a successful executive, he is also a knowledge pioneer.
Years before the importance of intangible assets in a company’s valuation became
recognised in management circles, he was developing ways of valuing the
contribution that people make to an organisation through his work at
Sweden-based life assurance firm Skandia.

is a respected author and conference speaker. In 1998, he was awarded the Brain
Trust "Brain of the Year" award, following such luminaries as Gary
Kasparov and Professor Stephen Hawking.

year, he was appointed to the world’s first professorship on Intellectual
Capital at the University of Lund. He is also professional board member in a
number of knowledge companies as well as CEO of the Universal Networking
Intellectual Capital. His pivotal role was as vice-president and corporate
director of intellectual capital at Skandia in the 1990s, where in 1994, he produced
the world’s first intellectual capital annual report.

roots are firmly in personnel and training. Before joining Skandia in 1991, he
was senior vice-president for training and development at S-E Bank, after being
president and chairman of Consultus, a Stockholm-based consulting company.

the HR background helps

HR perspective is fundamental," he says. "The work of intellectual
capital is about future earnings potential, as well as the search for how to
release the human potential with the structural capital."

for those starting out

about the financial language of numbers, so that you can communicate HR
perspectives to the CFO. Also look for how to release talent within the

to the top

fan Isao Kaneko has worked at Japan Airlines for four decades, reaching the
post of president in 1998, following a career spent mostly in personnel.

would be a mistake to imagine this one-company man as someone of insular
outlook. He has worked all over the world, including two years as regional
manager in Italy, where he fell in love with Rome and with pasta. If he had not
pursued a career in the airline industry, he would have loved to be a
basketball coach – and indeed he did coach the JAL company team for a while,
before becoming the team’s honorary president.

has taken some tough decisions, however. Along with nearly all airlines, he has
been forced to seek savings and streamline management, but he has been rewarded
with a return to profitability.

was back in 1960 that Kaneko first joined Japan Airlines. After experience in
the international cargo department, he joined the industrial relations
department. This included a spell in New York dealing with "strong,
arrogant unions with alleged criminal links", he recalls. "I had to
fight. But if I believe I’m right, I don’t move."

became deputy vice-president industrial relations in 1980 for three years,
followed by the spell in Italy, and then was vice-president industrial
relations, with election to the board in 1991.

the HR background helps

says that management in HR can equip someone perfectly for a senior role, as
one has contact with all parts of the business. "To be a leader in
industrial relations you have to know everything about the business: finance,
operations and marketing."

for those starting out

all, labour relations needs patience."


to the top

opera singer Karen Beard is responsible for all aspects of running ANC Rental
Corporation’s Alamo Rent A Car and National Car Rental in North America,
accounting for around $3bn of the company’s $3.5bn annual revenue.

to her current position, Beard was the first female president of the major car
rental company, Alamo. Her career at Alamo spans more than 20 years, having
started in sales after deciding that a career in classical music was too
precarious. She has served as vice-president of HR, reservation sales and
consumer affairs, vice-president of domestic sales and senior vice-president of
operations, among others.

at Alamo, she led many initiatives, such as identifying and targeting the
brand’s primary market, creating a Web site, cementing major partnerships and
streamlining operations.

has been named as "One of the Most Powerful Women in Travel" every
year since 1996 by Travel Agent Magazine. She most recently was appointed to
the board of the Florida Division of Tourism by Governor Jeb Bush.

the HR background has helped

my 20 years in the car rental industry I have held many diverse
positions," she says. "But my tenure as head of the HR department was
one of the most rewarding experiences. I became sensitive to issues that the
typical company president may not fully appreciate – issues such as equal
opportunity, labour relations, pay plans, benefits and wellness programmes."

also found that the experience helped her refine the interpersonal skills, such
as negotiating, motivating and listening, which are increasingly recognised as
essential in a world of mobile, skilled employees.

to the top

Katada has been with the Japanese industrial manufacturing company Komatsu for
nearly half a century. He joined in 1954, starting in the HR division at the Osaka
plant. He served in different management roles, principally personnel, before
becoming a director in 1978. He also had a spell as general manager of Kanto
regional sales office. In 1983, he was appointed a managing director at the
group, rising to vice-president in 1988 and president (representative director)
a year later. In 1993, he was given a Nation Medal with Blue Ribbon by the
Japanese government.

has been a member of the listed companies advisory committee on the Tokyo Stock
Exchange since 1998 and has been vice-chairman of the Japan Federation of
Economic Organisations since 1999.

the HR background helps

I look back on my career, I believe the HR experience has been very helpful to
operating in top management," he says. "First and foremost fairness
is important. I am firmly convinced that you have to be fair to everyone,
including yourself and regardless of the position of someone in the company."

for those starting out

is the key to get the best and most potential out of people. You should know,
however, that the ways to motivate people are different for each person."


to the top

Eddington’s experience of personnel management came early in his career, as he
was rotated around different managerial positions at the Swire Group between
1979 and 1992, working at Hong Kong’s flag-carrying airline Cathay Pacific in
Hong Kong, Korea and Japan.

1992, he became managing director of Cathay Pacific, before being recruited by
magnate Rupert Murdoch to run Ansett Airlines in 1997.

the personnel experience has stayed with him. His ability in people management
was key to his being head-hunted for the prestigious £500,000-a-year post as
the head of British Airways in May 2000, reflecting the carrier’s recognition
of the disastrous 1997 strike, which cost an estimated £150m.

trained in Engineering Science at the University of Western Australia and
Oxford University, and taught as a research lecturer at Pembroke College,
Oxford, in 1978-79 before starting his business career.

the HR background helps

issues can be the most difficult ones," he says. "Sometimes it takes
a while to understand what people are really driving at. You have to be clear
about what can be done and why. You have to be consistent and you have to be
fair." An important rule he has learned on staff issues is "never let
ego get in the way of finding solutions".

to those starting out

have worked at airports, in marketing and in sales, and I have worked on the
personnel side. The more you know about the different aspects of the business
the better."

to the top

this year the Wall Street Journal placed Concetta Lanciaux in its list of the
30 most influential businesswomen in Europe – the first time an HR professional
has made it on to the list.

has been with LVMH since 1985, following a spell with US chip-maker Intel. She
holds a PhD in humanities and social sciences from the University of Carolina,
and began her career as a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, where the
pursuit of an executive MBA persuaded her to move into the private sector.

retains responsibility for HR within the French luxury goods group, but much of
her role is strategic general management. The intangible value of skills and
brands are so important to the producer of champagnes, perfumes and leather
products that development of people and strategy are interwoven. While Lanciaux
is heavily involved in strategy, chief executive Bernard Arnault has always
paid close attention to selection, recruitment and development.

is one of the few HR managers to be in the top echelon of business speakers,
and is as likely to be invited to speak on marketing as on training or
selection. For example, she was asked to address a Business Innovation
conference in October 1999 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on developing the

has published two books, Humanistic and Scholastic Poetics (1987) and Reward
Strategies (1990).

the HR background helps

of the main advantages has been the ability to ensure that acquisitions are
successful, she says. "We never go out and replace everyone in the company
we have acquired. We find out the talents that exist in the companies. We
identify and retain talent and get the right person in the right job.
Management time spent on this activity is pretty high."

for those starting out

the same interest for the business as you have for HR. Develop a passion for
the business you are in."

to the top

Pestillo has a background in employee relations in heavy industry. He joined
car giant Ford in 1980 as vice-president labour relations, having previously
held industrial relations posts with General Electric, later becoming
vice-president, corporate and employee relations at BF Goodrich.

Ford he held different portfolios at vice-president level. His one period away
from HR was as vice-president corporate relations and diversified businesses
between 1990 and 1999. In 1999-2000, he was vice-chairman responsible for governmental
affairs, HR, the Office of the General Counsel and public affairs. He was then
promoted to his current position, where he is CEOof the newly independent
Visteon Corporation. Pestillo is also currently the chairman of the Michigan
Manufacturers Association.

high-flyer from the start, Pestillo graduated in economics from Fairfield
University in the US and has a law degree from Georgetown University. He is
also a graduate of the advanced management programme at Harvard Business School.

the HR background helps

has taught me that no one can be as effective working alone as by coalescing a
group into the pursuit of common objectives," he says. "A fully
functioning team is the most effective organisation, and it should include all

for those starting out

know the business and its objectives, strengths and constraints. The true test
of HR excellence is ‘does the business succeed?’. HR must be a series of tools
and techniques to foster that objective."


to the top

polymath is rare in the modern world, and the resourceful Fran‡ois de Cagny
would stand out in any list of executives. He studied both medicine and law,
moving quickly to senior positions in the industrial sector in his early career
after graduating in the 1960s, and served as director of HR, as industrial
director and as a senior general manager. In 1979, he joined the bank Cr‚dit
Mutuel as director of HR for the division Cr‚dit Mutuel Ile de France, in the
region surrounding Paris. He held responsibility for social and employee
relations and for training, as well as general HR administration.

1991, he has been director of international relations for the bank, but he has
remained a prominent figure in the French personnel managers association, the
Association National de Directeurs et de Cadres en Personal, and is a frequent
conference speaker.

the HR background helps

executive function consists of leading and motivating a team of people,"
de Cagny observes. "The modern tendency that sees people management as
being entrusted to the line managers demands that they are trained in this. The
fact that in my career I have twice held responsibility for HR in different
companies greatly facilitates the relation I have with the teams for which I am

for those starting out

France, HR is not seen as the route to an executive position; those in HR are
seen in some companies as providing cover for the board, so it seems to me
presumptuous to give advice. In reality, it is a question of knowing who to be
and knowing what to do."

to the top

chief executive of insurance giant AXA’s New Zealand subsidiary is Ross McEwan,
who has spent much of his career in HR.

graduated from Massey University in 1980 in business studies, majoring in
personnel and industrial relations, and joined consumer goods firm Unilever as
a personnel officer, where he stayed for five years, rising to the post of
personnel manager for the food division in New Zealand.

was followed by a spell at tyre firm Dunlop as industrial relations manager,
where he modernised the pay scheme. He and his wife then spent a few months
travelling in Europe, "as any good Kiwi does", before returning as he
took up the post of HR manager at National Mutual, the largest life insurance
company in Australasia.

1988, he moved into his first non-HR job, joining the sales department with
administrative duties, being quickly promoted to general manager. In 1992, he
became general manager of the life insurance division and two years later had a
spell in Australia. In 1996, he became chief executive for New Zealand
business. In the same year the company de-mutualised, with AXA taking a 51%

the HR background helps

CEO, most of the things you deal with on a day-to-day basis are people-related.
The HR background gives you a good grounding in what are good people management
practices and what are not. You need to make sure you have the right people in
the right places and that they are highly motivated."

for those starting out

need a good grounding in HR, and you need to take the opportunities as they
come up to move into other disciplines. Some will not be promotions; they will
be sideways moves."


to the top

managing director of New Zealand’s largest domestic energy company, Richard
Tweedie, former HR director of Todd Motors, is one of the most influential
business figures in the twin-island state.

began as a management trainee in the tobacco industry, followed by a spell in
market research at the global consumer goods company Unilever in the 1970s.
During this period, while completing a Bachelor of Law degree, he became
interested in industrial relations and gained a job with the New Zealand
Employers Federation as an industrial advocate. This was during a period of
strong unions, and Tweedie was directly involved representing industrial
groups, mainly in the car industry, in negotiations.

joined Todd Motors, the Mitsubishi franchise assembler in New Zealand, as
industrial relations manager in 1976, at the age of 30. He moved the company
away from the confrontational approach and was quickly promoted to lead the
total HR function. In 1981, his employer sent him to Harvard Business School on
a three-month programme and a year later he moved into a planning and legal
management role in Todd’s oil and gas business, becoming general manager by
1987, CEO in 1990 and managing director in 1995.

the HR background has helped

HR experience has significantly shaped my role, especially the experience at
the coalface of industrial negotiations," he says.

negotiating skills were developed during that time and the tricks of the game –
many learned from union negotiators – are with me today."

to those starting out

you want a line management position then you need to manage your career to that
end by identifying the time and opportunity to make your move. It has its
personal risks, but if all goes well it can be very rewarding."

to the top

David Smith has humble beginnings. He joined a small suburban branch of the
Bank of New South Wales as an office assistant on leaving school at the age of
18. The bank, however, saw potential in him and placed him on a fast-track
programme despite his lack of a degree, and he subsequently completed an MBA.

spent 20 years with the Westpac banking group, of which the Bank of New South
Wales forms a part, mostly in personnel roles. This included four years in New
Zealand, where he ran the HR development department of the Westpac Banking
Corporation, before returning to Australia, ending up as general manager of
retail banking in Queensland. He then moved to NRMA in 1999 as HR general
manager, before being appointed chief executive of the State Insurance Company.

the HR background helps

can bring the people issues to the top table. What we are going to see in
companies is that if you have a very motivated staff then that can lead to
better customer satisfaction and retention, and profitability. We have been
doing vision and values, but if that does not mean anything to the people then
it is useless, or even counter-productive."

to those starting out

to talk the language of business – that is where you start getting credibility.
The best thing I did was the MBA, and what that gave me was confidence."

to the top

all the dramatic collapses of the dot-coms, Maurice Duffy is a rarity – a new
economy entrepreneur who makes money. He is also a former HR director.

reorganised the HR department at the European division of global telecoms
company Nortel Networks to operate as a head-hunting and resourcing agency,
handled at arm’s length. The logical development was to spin off the firm,
which he did, promptly severing links with Nortel and operating as an
independent firm. Its core competence is recruitment, but it now acts as a
consultancy on business and technology, and as a conference organiser as well
as a search and selection agency.

80 employees and offices in London, Newcastle, Glasgow, Amsterdam, Rome, Milan,
Madrid and Munich, mkworldwide has grown rapidly since starting as mksearch
with eight people in February 2000. Duffy, as European HR director of Nortel
Networks, headed the 1999 Recruitment Team of the Year in the inaugural
Personnel Today awards.

qualified as an accountant in 1977, but went straight into HR, taking
traditional personnel roles in industrial groups in Ireland and the UK, with
spells in project management and general management, before joining Nortel in

the HR background has helped

are now the key to competitive advantage, he argues. "In the 1980s it was
capital; in the 1990s people viewed technology as the key; from 2000 forward it
is about people."

for those starting out

and passionate Duffy says the only way for HR managers to reach senior
executive positions is to quit being "social workers" and become
business managers. "Know your business. Don’t just read the brochure; know
your customers and know what is happening. That is how you gain respect, rather
than wading through the latest HR book on how to manage people."

to the top

Morgan runs businesses responsible for £1.3bn ($1.95bn) turnover, employing
13,000 people, covering shipbuilding and aerospace manufacture. His four-year
tenure as HR director at the same company immediately preceded this post.
Switching between different disciplines is something that has characterised his
career, and something that he regards as essential for any personnel manager
who aspires to the highest office.

began his career in the car industry, in a variety of managerial posts,
culminating in the post of managing director at Land Rover Vehicles in the UK
between 1991 and 1995. He then moved to an equivalent post at Royal Ordnance.
"As organisations become much flatter, the learning experience from moving
across into different roles in order to widen experience is valuable. I have
learned a lot from that," he says.

even without spending time in the line, personnel managers must learn the
business objectives and priorities. In his case, as HR director, he could never
be accused of not knowing the task, or its difficulty, because he had worked as
operational manager in the same company. This gave him great authority when
encouraging junior line managers to take their people management
responsibilities seriously.

the HR background has helped

has a high regard for the importance of HR, for example he refuses to regard
his move early in 2001 from HR director to group managing director of
operations as a promotion, but rather as a sideways move.

for those starting out

would encourage a manager of any discipline to spend some time in a different department,
and says that many need to sharpen up their people management skills.
"Management is the art of persuasion, rather than instruction, which is
what many general managers do."

to the top

Veenhof, who began his career in HR, is a beneficiary of the Philips’ policy of
job rotation begun in the 1970s. Potential senior managers were given a taste
of different functions, in a manner that has become more established since.

studied business administration at Nijenrode University, and obtained an
economics degree at Groningen University, before joining the HR department at
the electronic giant’s offices in Hilversum, the Netherlands, in 1971. He spent
three-and-a-half years there, and then this was followed by similar stints in
both corporate finance and sales.

became project leader for LCD products in 1986, and for high-definition
television in 1989. In January 1992, he was appointed managing director of the
consumer electronics division. He took up his current responsibilities in
January 1996.

the HR background helps

regards the skills he learned in interviewing and in managing mergers as key
abilities for senior management that he learned in his years in HR where,
despite holding a junior role, he had access to senior managers of the
department. As much as one-quarter of his time as CEO involves handling
organisational development and HR, particularly the recruitment and development
of top managers, he estimates.

lot of my time is spent getting people in the right positions," he says.
"You are thinking continually about the development of the organisation."

for those starting out

not stay too long in a certain field. And you should discuss that very early in
your career.

around the disciplines is close to being essential background for a chief
executive and young people are asking for this."

to the top

Muneoka was promoted to the board of the Japanese electronics giant Hitachi as
senior vice-president in 1997, having served three years as a general manager
in the employee relations department. In February of this year, he was elected
corporate auditor.

many Japanese executives, he has spent his entire career at the one company. A
psychology graduate from the University of Tokyo, he joined in 1964, working in
various posts while rising through the hierarchy, becoming department manager
of the administration department in 1985. He had some experience in personnel
in his junior roles, and returned to the discipline in 1994, as general manager
in the corporate employee relations department, becoming board-level director
for corporate personnel and training in 1997.


to the top

Kinski made corporate history in 1998 when he became the first former HR
director to head a FTSE 100 company in the UK. The former HR director of both
Jaguar Cars and Scottish Power became the CEO of transport group Stagecoach.

departing in 2000, he has moved to Japanese-owned Nomura International, where
he works as a transaction director for Guy Hands, one of the UK’s most
prominent entrepreneurs. He assists Hands in identifying and acquiring large
business opportunities.

is responsible for Nomura’s pub businesses, comprising 5,500 pubs; the First
Quench retail chain; and Hyder Business Services, which provides outsourced
services for local government.

began his career as an electrician moving into the car industry as an engineer
and progressing to become HR director of Jaguar by 1990. In 1992, he moved to
the utility Scottish Power as HR director and progressed to line management
roles, culminating in reaching the post of chairman and CEO of Southern Water
and chairman of Manweb Electricity, both part of the Scottish Power group.

the HR background helps

has clearly helped me in developing my career. Winning in business is about
achieving competitive advantage and successfully managing change – proactive HR
management is fundamental to this as, at the end of the day, it is people who
make things happen."

to those starting out

sure that you really understand the strategy and business issues for your
organisations; develop a set of integrated initiatives to support these
requirements. People who do this will be quickly recognised and appreciated."

to the top

Ian has spent all his career in the car industry. He has held senior personnel
management posts, as well as general management and manufacturing roles, in
Ford in the 1970s in Halewood and Dagenham in the UK, and Cologne in West
Germany, having graduated from the University of Manchester and the London
Business School.

1984, he has held senior general management posts at Nissan, culminating in
promotion to senior vice-president of the global car firm, now controlled by
Renault. He was the first European to become a senior vice-president at the
firm. He stepped down from the executive committee in March 2001, but retained
the role of chairman of Nissan Motor Iberica.

the HR background helps

Ian describes his experiences in personnel at Ford as being the prime motivator
for seeking a senior role at Nissan, which was new to manufacturing in the UK
in 1984, when he joined.

the 1970s I had developed views on what did not work in running a British
workforce at a time of industrial strife. I had experience of lots of labour
relations issues, dealing with unions and trying to see what drove those wedges
between management and workforce," he says.

gave me the fundamental view that training and commitment to training is
fundamentally of great importance. Rather than just acquiring skills, it is
part of creating almost a bond of trust. The business gains long-term
capability and flexibility. As an employee you see that the company is prepared
to invest in you and not only in marketing programmes, products and equipment."

was convinced that greater partnership could be realised if starting with a
clean slate, so he jumped at the chance of working with Nissan when it began
production in Sunderland, north-east England. The plant is now the most
productive in Europe.

for those starting out

Ian advises personnel managers aiming for the top posts to "understand the
business; this does not just mean the numbers. You need to engage with colleagues
enough to understand what the drivers are in the core activities of the


to the top

alumnus of the car industry, George Hickton discovered the importance of
integrating HR and strategic management independently, and in advance of many
others. He began in personnel with the Ford Motor Company, eventually reaching
a senior HR role, before moving to general manager sales and marketing at Honda
New Zealand.

1988, he took over the New Zealand Employment Service, moving to the Income
Support Service – responsible for making welfare payments to those in need in
the country – in 1992. In this role, he transformed the agency into an
organisation more focused on the customer, by setting up teams to replace
narrow functional disciplines. Following this, he took over at the media and
betting company TAB, before being appointed to head the country’s tourism board
in April 1999.

a versatile manager and, by many accounts, an inspirational figure, is famous
for cutting through the jargon and accepted ways of administration. When in
charge of the New Zealand Income Support Service, he used to begin staff
briefings by quipping, "We are giving out $10bn a year and nobody likes
us! We could be doing something wrong."

the HR background helps

argues that management in general is about enthusing and empowering people,
which means that training in personnel can be invaluable. "As a guiding
principle, I believe that people actually want to contribute to the
organisation that they work for, if they are given the opportunity."

for those starting out

main advice is to know and understand exactly what it is that people in the
organisation actually do, as such be prepared to engage in management by
wandering around."

to the top

Mann, previously international HR manager at NatWest Bank, is hardly unique in
having moved from HR management to head an HR agency, but ECA International is
nowadays a major international business in its own right, so, as managing director,
Mann qualifies for this list. ECA has 16 offices worldwide and more than 1,500
member and client companies, providing consultancy and advice to multinational

NatWest, Mann directed the expatriate programme and the personnel function for
the European Region of NatWest Markets, the investment banking division.

to this, he worked for six years as a consultant in the field of expatriate
policy and administration, having worked for Bank of America covering Europe,
the Middle East and Africa.

early career began at Rolls-Royce, followed by six years spent at Avis
Rent-a-Car installing and implementing a job evaluation programme.

was appointed managing director of ECA International at the beginning of June

the HR background has helped

argues that HR people have to learn the business; but, by the same token,
business managers must learn the people. "The organisation and the people
in it are to my mind synonymous," he says. "The goals of the
organisation and of the people have to be congruent. If you do not do that, no
one achieves any of their goals and you do not keep your staff."

to those starting out

big. Think about your business. The profession has limited itself by being too
concerned with administration. What we really need to do is ensure the triumph
of people and strategic thinking. If we achieve that then there will be many
who can move into general management roles."

Isao Kaneko

of Japan Airlines

Karen Beard

North America, ANC Rental

Tetsuya Katada


Rod Eddington

British Airways

Peter Pestillo

and CEO, Visteon Corporation

Fran‡ois de Cagny

of international relations, Cr‚dit Mutuel

Ross McEwan

AXA New Zealand

Richard Tweedie

executive, Todd Energy

David Smith

State Insurance Company, New Zealand

Maurice Duffy

executive, mkworldwide

Terry Morgan

managing director of operations, BAe

Ad Veenhof

vice-president, Royal Philips Electronics and CEO, Philips Domestic Appliances
and Personal Care

Kotaro Muneoka

auditor, Hitachi

Mike Kinski

director, Nomura International; non-executive director, the Post Office

Sir Ian Gibson

Nissan Motor Iberica

George Hickton

executive, New Zealand Tourist Board

Volatility of corporate politics

HR managers reaching senior positions are not exempt from the sometimes harsh
politics of the boardroom. Mike Kinski, the first former personnel specialist
to become chief executive of a FTSE 100 company in the UK, parted company with
transport company Stagecoach quite suddenly in February 2000, after reports of
disagreements with chairman Brian Souter. He has re-emerged as transactions
director at Nomura and earns his place in the list. As Global HR went to press,
reports emerged that his boss, Guy Hands, was negotiating leaving Nomura,
taking part of the business with him, so Kinski’s role could be set to change

April of this year, the car company Nissan included two people who are
eminently qualified for our list. Both Sir Ian Gibson and Hiroshi Moriyama were
board members with extensive background in personnel management. In April’s
reshuffle by Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of Renault, which has a controlling
stake in Renault, both were moved.

Ian became chairman of Nissan Iberica, and retains his place in the list. But
Hiroshi Moriyama, senior vice-president for Japanese sales, was removed,
pending election as corporate auditor. His departure was seen partly as
reflecting poor sales in Japan, but most analysts blamed the product, rather
than Moriyama’s performance.

his own departure was Clive Morton, a former HR director at several British and
Japanese manufacturers, who became director of business development at the
utility Anglian Water International. He left in April 2000, to chair different
training and consultancy companies. At Anglian, Morton had led negotiations on
the public-private partnership with London Underground. He also set up utility
operations in the Czech Republic and Chile. He is one of the few former
personnel managers to become an influential business theorist through his
acclaimed book Beyond World Class.

What do the top 20 look for in their HR directors?

Karen Beard, president, ANC Rental, North America

"For human resources directors to be really valuable, they must be true
business partners. They must not only have a thorough command of the core
competencies involved in the discipline of HR, but also they must understand
the realities of business and the particular business model of their company."

David Smith, CEO, State Insurance Company, New Zealand

"That they understand the business. I would not ask my HR directors to
produce a profit and loss report or a balance sheet, but I would expect them to
understand the drivers of value; why we are doing what we are doing, and making
sure that managers manage.

I returned from my MBA programme [and was still in HR], I used to make the team
do cashflow models. It was like pulling teeth. But it made people turn around
and think analytically and it meant that when they were asked, ‘Why are we
investing in this?’, they could reply, ‘Because we will get this return’. You
can say to the business unit, ‘Why do you not want us to capture this value?’

would encourage anyone to go away and learn it [the business]; do a few finance
and accounting courses. It is so straightforward, it’s not funny."

Mike Kinski, transaction director, Nomura International; non-executive
director, the Post Office

"I would look for a strategic thinker with operational experience, who can
both develop strategy and then make things happen. This needs to be coupled
with a hands-on, pragmatic and friendly management style to gain commitment and
support from both colleagues and staff."

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