Hilde Garssen: Change Perspective and Vision for Remuneration
Transformation is allowed to chafe and hurt – “otherwise, you do not really change”, said Hilde Garssen in her role as Chief People Officer at KPN last year to magazine CHRO about the need for more agile, diverse leadership teams. Change and renewal are a common theme in HR, the discipline in which Garssen has spent her entire working life. She appears to have remained fairly stable during her career: In almost 24 years, she is only on her second employer.
After studying Human Resource Management at HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, Garssen (Hoogeveen, 1973) began her career as a management trainee at ABN AMRO. She ended up staying there for two decades, eventually becoming Chief HR Officer and most recently serving as Managing Director of Business Services, taking a temporary detour. She returned to the role of CHRO at the end of 2018: not at the bank, but at KPN. As Chief People Officer, she has served on the telecom company's Board of Directors since 2019.
Explaining remuneration choices
Digitalization, diversity and inclusion, and sustainability: The three Ds – in Dutch – all form part of the HR role, as of course does the tight labor market. No wonder the CHRO is in demand as a Supervisory Board member these days. Remuneration expertise comes in handy, too. “We have to be more agile than before, adapt faster than we were used to and make our decisions more transparent,” Garssen has previously said in Management Scope about remuneration policy, in her role as KPN CPO. “Both internally and to the outside world, we need to explain what our values are and which factors we base our remuneration decisions on.”
That perspective will also serve her well in her supervisory role at construction company TBI Holdings, where she was appointed in 2021. There, she chairs the Appointment and Remuneration Committee. Garssen is by far the youngest regulator on the Board, which also consists of two people in their seventies, two people in their sixties and one in their late fifties. The five generations on the work floor with whom Garssen works as KPN’s CFRO are not yet reflected on this Supervisory Board (where, then?). She was also the only woman on the Supervisory Board after she took office in September 2021, but was recently joined by Karin Laglas (no. 93). Garssen is also a member of the Supervisory Council of KWF Dutch Cancer Society and a member of the Executive Board of employers' association VNO-NCW. This year, she also came in at no. 30 on the Management Scope Next50, which is the list of up-and-coming top Supervisory Board members in Dutch regulatory roles.