Top job: Detlef Prangenberg, HR director (Europe), Univar Europe

Where were you working before, and what were your responsibilities?

Before joining Univar, I engineered the successful reorganisation of the structure of DSM Composite Resins, which included the set-up of a global HR team.

What qualifications do you hold?

Degrees in HR and business and marketing.

What will be the duties in your new role?

I will establish HR processes across the region, providing leadership and guidance throughout the various stages of change.

What are the main challenges HR faces in the next five years?

Finding the right people and keeping them, while taking the HR function from a business partnership role to a business leadership role.

What is the most overrated tool in your job?

Policies. In my previous role, processes sometimes seemed more important than content.

And what work tool would you like to see invented?

An integrated HR management tool that includes all relevant data, is connected to all tools (for example, payroll and pensions), and can be easily maintained.

What is the worst thing about HR?

Laying people off. There is always a clear and mostly good business reason for doing so, but at the end of the day it is all about human beings, their lives and their futures.

How do you wind down after a bad day in the office?

An hour’s run totally refreshes me, clears my head and often helps me see things from a different perspective.

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

Seeing a member of the works council at GE Healthcare in tears when I told her that I was leaving.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Passionate, committed, energised.

What do you regret about your career?

I don’t regret anything.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

The Barcelona or Chelsea football teams.

What advice would you give someone starting out in HR?

Always be yourself.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

In my military days, I worked in the intelligence department. On 9/11, I received information about a planned missile attack on a German plane flying the troops back home for a holiday. I decided to cancel the holiday flight – it was the right decision.

Sum up your philosophy on life in one sentence.

Work hard and be yourself – never compromise.

Prangenberg’s CV

  • March 2009: HR director, Europe, Univar Europe (chemicals)
  • Jun 2008-Feb 2009: Global HR director, DSM Composite Resins
  • Jul 2007-May 2008: Business project leader (restructuring), GE Healthcare
  • Oct 2005-Jul 2007: HR manager, GE Healthcare Clinical Systems Service EMEA
  • Apr 2003-Oct 2005: HR manager, GE Healthcare Kretztechnik and GE Healthcare Austria

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