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Nov 18, 2022

We are delighted to welcome back Hein Knaapen, Managing Partner, Europe at, onto the EMEA Recruitment podcast.

There is only so much that matters - it’s not that difficult intellectually to identify, emotionally it’s not easy – but, if you manage, you can create more value in less time.”

In the beginning of the episode, Hein tells Paul Toms about his extensive Human Resources career, with 36 years in corporate organisations - 15 of those as a Chief Human Resources Officer. Hein has recently joined the ranks of entrepreneurs. 

Hein is pleased about the progress of his new venture and shares his advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. Initially nervous about taking the risk, Hein understands the apprehension, but whether you do it or not, there is a leap of faith involved. Remember: risk and reward.

The overarching aim of Hein’s work is to unclutter the thinking of organisational leaders, such as the CEO and CHRO, to identify the areas where value creation sits and streamline the company’s focus on those areas. The typical mistake leaders make is losing focus. Hein reiterates that, in everything you do, the questions that needs to be answered are: How does this improve company performance? And, if it doesn’t, why do it?

Paul asks Hein about his perspective on Diversity & Inclusion initiatives compared to the world pre-pandemic. Hein believes there will always be some degree of difficulty in bringing about diversity (diversity in terms of thinking and actions, not equal opportunity). He highlights the importance of investing, educating and equipping managers to create a climate and a team to foster diversity. 

Later in the episode, Hein shares his coming out story. Hein came out as a gay man when he was 32, explaining that he could have been aware he liked men when he was ten-years-old. However, being part of a conservative family and one of five sons, he buried his feelings, as he didn’t know how else to handle it. Once he came out, his experience was overall quite positive and he feels very fortunate not to have had any negative experiences during his career. 

Hein shares the highlights of his career, of which two experiences spring to mind. The first was when he was CHRO officer at ING, a multi-national banking and financial service company, where he had an exceptional leader that he worked well with to make a strong contribution to the company.

The second experience was at Unilever, where we worked alongside a CEO to help change the culture of the company and found it to be an extraordinary experience. The pattern, he explains, is having a team that values his input and shares a strong alignment of thinking.

Hein explores the key to an effective and efficient recruitment process. His advice is to identify three to five key deliverables and then two to three distinct abilities. Hein believes total focus and clarity of the essential deliverables is the most important factor for successful recruitment.

The episode ends with the things Hein is most excited about for the future, as well as details of the monthly webinars he creates on value and people-related topics. With his experience in HR and working largely with first time CHROs, Hein teaches them how to create a very selective and focused people agenda that is tightly linked to the company strategy. If this is of interest to you, connect with Hein on LinkedIn.

The EMEA Recruitment podcast is available wherever you get your podcasts, or you can watch the episode on YouTube:


If you’re interested in a certain part of the episode, please use the timestamps: 

00:40: The last thing that made Hein smile
01:30: Positives of the last 3 years
04:20: Hein’s proudest achievement
05:20: Advice for those wishing to start a business
08:00: The value brings to organisations
12:20: The mistake leaders make repeatedly
18:25: How does Hein stayed focused personally?
22:00: Diversity & Inclusion pre-COVID & in the present day
26:40: Hein’s coming out story
33:25: The highlights of Hein’s HR career
36:10: How to make efficient & effective recruitment decisions
39:25: What Hein is excited about in the future 


Operation Smile is the official partner of the EMEA Recruitment podcast. We’re raising vital funds and awareness for Operation Smile to deliver life-changing surgery to children and adults with cleft lip and palate. If you’d like to find out more, please visit the Operation Smile website:


This episode is hosted by Paul Toms, our Founder, and Rose Jinks, Marketing Manager.

We specialise in professional services recruitment, including hiring into HR teams. Find out more through our website: 

You can also follow us on LinkedIn: 

If you’d like to connect with Paul, please reach out through LinkedIn: 

Or follow him on Twitter: 


If you’d like to share any feedback on this episode, please contact Rose: 


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