What has been your journey in the HR industry, and share your experiences and roles at Mondi?

I have experience of more than 30 years in the HR industry, and I started my career with administration payroll and moved into HR systems across multinational companies. While working with many organizations, I had the opportunity to experience various HR professional roles in a semiconductor production company such as, recruitment, dealing with councils, implementing systems, registering shift systems, people development, and manager in production sites. I later moved from the to an automotive industry at Johnson Controls as an HR manager for one of the production sites that produces fire, HVAC, and security equipment for buildings.

I have spent a few years as an HR executive in Denmark, Amsterdam, and then moved for two years in Paris, and London. I was also responsible for the engineering workforce and administrative functions in the headquarters as operational HR and successfully helped them to increase the internal rate of businesses through mergers, acquisitions, planning and development. I shifted to the private equity energy sector, as Chief HR Officer at LM Wind Power, and we were producing blades for wind turbines.

I also went on to become Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Germanischer Lloyd. I worked as an Executive Vice President HR of the maritime division of the newly-formed organization DNV GL, we were giving certificates for the wind, oil and gas and maritime as an international accredited registrar and offshore classification organization and I joined Mondi Group as group HR director in April 2018.

What are some of the challenges in the HR assessments as part of your role?

I started in my current company as Group Human Resources Director and we didn't have a very progressive HR department. We were traditional in terms of HR administration for many years. We organized the HR department to grow while also dealing with new challenges of the pandemic or the war between Ukraine and Russia which the other HR industries were also facing around the world.

We have multiple locations across the globe, most of which are far from cities and remote locations which is a significant challenge. We are unable to attract and retain talents, especially as we are a production company that works 24/7 and the younger workforce is not inclined towards these jobs. At the same time COVID has brought many organizational changes, especially in leadership and work environments from remote working to hybrid working. It is too early to claim that hybrid or remote work is well-functioning since the outcome and impact of all these concrete changes will be witnessed in the next two to three years, especially on leadership and the workplace environment, promotions, and the social interaction between employees.

As a traditional paper and packaging production company with 22% female employees overall, we have set a 2030 target to reach 30% which is a challenge and we want to go further ahead. The ultimate goal is to implement an important diversity and inclusion framework at the workplace in all aspects. I would also mention the health and wellbeing of employees which is getting more challenging in remote work to hybrid working models as the split between private life and professional life is not so distinct anymore. One might face some difficulties if they are not rigid enough to take care of their work-life balance.

What strategies are you adopting to deal with all these challenges?

The most significant point is that we need to view this as a business challenge rather than just an HR challenge. We need to involve business operations and assess them together to find the right solutions for all the challenges. We must work closely with our leadership teams and make people aware of our capabilities, methods, and how we launch these processes. If we involve them right from the beginning, we can hopefully get the buy-in support and be more creative in finding solutions, and launch the processes for these challenges.

What are some of the trends in the HR assessments part of the industry and what would you adopt later on in the operations?

In terms of assessment, it starts with the recruitment of people and using AI enabled tools for streamlining personnel selection. The most important thing is that we look at more than just technical capabilities but also understand the company culture and we need to evaluate how people fit into a company culture. While doing an assessment it is essential to share the results with the people who were involved in it to figure out whether they accept the results, because it will become difficult if they don't believe in it. We need to find a way for these assessments to be more accurate and reflect the reality. We also use different assessments and tools and implement them for other things such as people development, recruitment and to figure out the talent’s potential.

How do you get people to buy into your assessment? What advice would you give your peers in the industry?

The most important thing for me as HR professionals is to sensibly use our network skills. If you compare companies they might have different cultures, they might be at a different state in terms of acquisitions, investments, reductions, but nevertheless, at a certain point of time we are all facing the same challenges. In this aspect, I think we are much stronger if we work closer together by sharing our experiences, and learning from each other. By finding creative ways with how we work with these challenges rather than trying to strategize in a closed office and not having a professional exchange with peers or with other companies.