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Big Leap Forward. Working Globally. 84

Like the vast majority of people I had no clear idea of my career direction when I finally left higher education.

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My first role was as a Departmental Manager at Marks and Spencer and for three years I gained great commercial and management experience. I then moved to another UK based food retailing company where I spent just over 10 years firstly in a marketing role before making an internal move into HR. This gave me my first insight that HR would prove to be my preferred career route and I have never regretted that decision. My third move was then to spend two years working in an HR role for a UK based construction company.

When I reflect on my career moves I have no regrets on the decisions I made.In essence I felt that once a job had lost its challenge and I wasn’t looking forward to going into work then it was time to consider a move.

Leaving Marks and Spencer after only three years was driven also by my strong wish at the time to take on a marketing role and there was no possibility to have an internal move into marketing. My second move was prompted by a desire to experience a different industry as I had only worked in Retailing Companies and in addition I had then shifted from a marketing role to one in HR. My third career move was determined by the fact the construction company I was working for hit financial problems and everyone was made redundant so prompting the move as described below.

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So in early 1992 I made the ‘big leap‘ to work for a global Company (all my previous three jobs were with UK organisations) and I quickly realised that working in an environment of many different cultures would be a great and exciting challenge. Being at Panasonic also added the extra dimension of working for a Japanese Company. Until I was appointed as HR Director for the European Region in 2004 I had three Japanese bosses all very different and I had to adapt quickly to their leadership styles. The role involved a lot of travelling, especially in Europe and occasionally to Japan.

It was a time of dramatic changes including much of manufacturing moving to China or in some cases to Eastern Europe. In addition from an HR perspective Panasonic started shared services operations and the start of taking a Pan-European approach to talent management.

During my early period working at Panasonic my then Japanese boss instilled in me the importance and relevance of the management philosophy of the company which had been articulated by the founder of Panasonic, Konosuke Matsushita. In 1932 he declared the mission of the company based on contribution to society and his 250 year plan. The values of the Company were not just described in posters and diaries but were implemented as a fundamental part of managing people and used as a basis for decision-making.

My 21 year career at Panasonic involved transitioning from a UK HR responsibility to a number of Pan-European roles and for the final 6 years a global position when I was based in Osaka , Japan but continued to live in London. My main passion amongst my HR responsibilities was always being involved in learning and development activities and this then led me to specialising in talent management. Like many other global companies Panasonic had implemented a number of talent policies in a very disjointed way with each region deciding their own direction based on their needs and interest in the topic by those in charge.

The position of Director of Global Talent was a new one and it was rare that a non-Japanese person would be given a global role –I was in a privileged position. My primary responsibility was to implement a more global talent strategy and in order to achieve this aim I had to get the buy-in of the Regional management and key decision makers who were mostly based in Japan. Secondly I was asked to interview key executives who had been identified as high potentials and prepare a feedback report to my bosses in Japan.

On reflection there were a number of topics in which my contribution was recognised and had a significant impact on Panasonic’s talent activities.

These included the successful global implementation of Panasonic’s 8 Leadership Competencies, a global approach (with one provider) of assessing those on the leadership scheme and introducing globally an identification process for those seen as high potential (using the 9 box grid).

In April 2013 I left Panasonic to establish my own talent management consultancy.

One of my aspirations was to write a book on global talent management which together with my co-author, Paul Turner, this aspiration was realised when our book ‘Make Your People Before You Make Your Products‘.

Published by Wiley’s in October 2014.

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Danny Kalman

Danny Kalman

Talent Management Professional and ICF Accredited Coach at Danny Kalman
Danny’s passion is ensuring that organisations have the right people in the right place to maximise business results. Co-author of the book 'Make Your People Before You Make Your Products ' an authoritative guide to the evolution of talent management. Danny was Director of Global Talent at Panasonic Corporation from 2008-2013 and was instrumental in the development and implementation of Panasonic’s Talent Management’s policies and procedures. He quickly recognized that he had a natural ability to motivate people to achieve their career potential.
Danny Kalman

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