Top job: Danny Kalman

Danny Kalman has been appointed HR director at Matsushita Electronic Europe. The company is best known for its Panasonic brand and employs 13,000 people in Europe. He was previously senior general manager for the company, responsible for day-to-day operational HR issues.

What will be the duties in your new role?

My new duties will involve an increased focus on strategic issues, specifically succession planning and HR development.

What do you hope to achieve in your new role?

To bring the HR function closer to the business and to accelerate the adoption of a performance management culture.

Which aspects are you most looking forward to?

Working more closely with our pan-European operations, research and development, group support and manufacturing, as well as our sales operations.

What is the best thing about HR?

The changing environment, as every day is different. Also the opportunity to work closely with people, helping them to realise their true potential.

And the worst?

Being left to pick up the pieces when line management abdicates its responsibility for all people issues.

What is the strangest situation you have been in at work?

While working for Marks & Spencer, I found myself chasing a shoplifter through the streets of Nottingham to retrieve a pair of socks.

How will HR change over the next five years?

It will become more streamlined and strategic, with basic administrative functions more likely to be outsourced. The focus will be on key areas of the business and for HR to be seen as a business partner.

Who is your ultimate guru?

Jack Welch – for his ability to identify people with potential and his courage in giving those people the opportunity to perform.

What is your essential viewing?

Sport and Have I Got News For You.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Going on holiday to Australia for a month without knowing if I had a job to come back to.

What is the essential tool in your job?

Ears – for listening to people.

What advice would you give to people starting out in HR?

Try to gain an overview of the HR function – don’t specialise too soon. Also, try to take a global and European view.

What would be your ideal job?

Working at the Wimbledon tennis championships. Dealing with the professionals and being able to watch the tournament.

Who would play you in the film of your life, and why?

Dustin Hoffman, because of his ability to adapt to different roles.

Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?

The late Brian Johnston (cricket commentator) in his prime – for his love of cricket and ability to entertain.

Kalman’s CV

2004 HR director, Matsushita Electric Europe

2002 Senior general manager, HR, Matsushita Electric Europe

2000 General manager, HR, Panasonic Industrial Europe

1992 HR manager, Panasonic Europe

1990 HR manager, Elemeta

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