The Challenge

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The company faced significant challenges in filling the critical role of HR Director for the Central Europe region, which encompasses the strategically important DACH area pivotal to the company’s operations in Europe, managing between 1500 and 2000 employees. The position is based preferably at the company’s German headquarters, but the candidate location was flexible across Germany as long as it was in the vicinity of one of the company’s locations to attract the right talent.
One of the principal challenges was finding a candidate with the requisite breadth of international experience and familiarity with matrix environments. Additionally, the role demanded proven expertise with works councils, which are integral to managing employee relations in Germany. This experience is crucial for negotiating and establishing workplace policies and processes effectively.

Moreover, the role required a candidate who could communicate fluently in German and had a proven track record in implementing procedures across multiple business units or locations. A significant part of the challenge was also finding someone with experience in breaking down organizational silos. The company is keen on promoting greater integration and cooperation across its various departments and geographical locations, embodying a unified company culture and operational efficiency. Identifying candidates who had successfully navigated and merged diverse corporate cultures and operational practices was, therefore, crucial but difficult, given the specialized nature of skills required to achieve this.

The Solution

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We started the search for the Director of HR Central Europe, initially focusing on those living close to the company’s German headquarters. However, due to a limited pool of candidates, we soon had to expand our search radius significantly, eventually covering the whole of Germany.

As we broadened the scope of our search, the screening process also intensified. Initially, we asked candidates 8 to 10 screening questions, but this number grew as we aimed to delve deeper into the expertise of the final candidates to evaluate whether a candidate meets the requirements of a role. To identify the strongest communicators and candidates with specific expertise, we implemented a detailed assessment process, requiring each candidate to spend an hour demonstrating their ability to succinctly communicate using specific examples to demonstrate alignment with what the client was looking for.

The company was open to candidates from a range of sectors, not just from water technology. The target list focused on international companies across manufacturing services, digital solutions, and other sectors known for their solution-selling matrix structures. The primary challenge was finding someone who not only had the necessary seniority but also a hands-on approach and could be a potential successor to the current VP of HR.

The Results

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Despite numerous challenges, Pacific’s team identified the ideal candidate, who underwent a rigorous interview process and impressed everyone with his dynamism, motivation, and especially his strong communication skills. Initially, the process was set to include 8 rounds of interviews. Realizing this was excessive, we worked with the HR team to reduce the rounds to four, by setting up panel interviews, allowing the candidate to demonstrate his capabilities more efficiently.

The successful candidate, who previously worked at a leading German metal company, completed the comprehensive four-step selection process in just two weeks. Throughout this process, he effectively communicated his vision and demonstrated a deep understanding of the company’s transformation goals, quickly establishing himself as the ideal fit for the role.

Since starting his new position at the end of March, he has been thriving in the new environment familiarizing himself with the new colleagues and the scope of the task at hand. With the successful completion of this project, Pacific has solidified a close trusted working relationship with the firm and is now actively engaged in other critical appointments.