Behind HRD

Nikolaj Knudtzon,
Former Head of
People & Culture,
Danske Bank


As his time at Danske Bank nears the end, Knudtzon lays out what lies next for HR….

Looking back on your time at Danske Bank, what are you most proud of?

The journey of Transformation happens through people and leadership. I am really proud to have been leading and orchestrating a team and a culture where inspirational leadership was a key to make transformation happen. Employees are engaged and empowered to create the changes and the effect is both much quicker and easier to implement having already ambassadors who are driven by the purpose of the change.

What do you think will be the most exciting project for HR over the next 12 months?

It’s a continuous journey of transformation. The driving forces of change are increasing and covers a broad palette from customers needs and on-line digitalised behavior to regulation and compliance. All of it factors impacting directly on the landscape HR and business is working in. Being able to navigate in this ever-changing mood and orchestrate the people agenda is key and very exciting.

What projects are you working on now?

Since I chose to leave Danske Bank I have been on a personal journey exploring where my next playground shall be. I take so much with me about how HR develops and feel privileged to have learned from an HR function who in itself takes part in the changes and engages deeply and directly in the business not just handling processes on a distance. I think HR left version 1.0 many years go where HR reactively handled issues from the end of the hallway. Many are now in version 2.0, running processes and impacting the direction for the business. Very few have taken it to version 3.0 (or at least 2.?) and dare to let go of some of the most time-consuming processes to enable a more vital and dynamic working style with less control and more progression. This atmosphere of engaging work is key to me and will be the deciding factor for where I want to work in the future.

What is your guiding ethos/philosophy for HR?

HR used to have two main platforms: The basics/fundamental that simply have to run like contracts, labour legal, comp & bens and more. And then the development platform which works best as shoulder to shoulder co-working with the leaders making it integrated in the business. This is not new but is often forgotten since the structure of HR organisations with the same type of people are trying to handle both functions. Looking into the near future HR will not be as we know it today. On both platforms its obvious to automatise a major part of the HR processes, but it cannot only be robotics – the human touch is still very important and the tailoring and personalisation of the work is essential for the employee experience and future place to work. That’s the agenda for the new HR. I want to orchestrate this and hear the music play.


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