2011 Game Changer: Nicholas Christenson
Manager of talent management, Doosan Infracore Construction Equipment, Seoul, South Korea
Nicholas Christenson, manager of talent management for Doosan Infracore Construction Equipment, is working to bring together the best aspects of human resources management from the East and West.
Christenson, 30, was working for Ingersoll Rand in Atlanta when the company was acquired by the Seoul, South Korea-based Doosan Infracore in 2007. Three years later he was asked to move to South Korea to help globalize the company’s HR practices, focusing on performance management and competency development.
Since moving abroad, Christenson, who started with Ingersoll Rand in 2005, has tried to unite the strengths of HR practices in two parts of the world. He found that in Korea, “the evolution of HR that we’ve experienced in the U.S. has been slower. HR here is still largely focused on program administration and management, rather than business partnership and enabling.”
At the same time, he has found “the deep dedication of my colleagues to their work has been invigorating.”
One of his key challenges: aligning the compact construction equipment business, which was purchased from Ingersoll Rand, with Doosan’s heavy construction equipment business. The compact construction equipment division was using talent management practices introduced by Ingersoll Rand, while the heavy construction equipment division was following the practices of Doosan.
Christenson and his team were given the task of unifying the two, while making sure the changes fit the best practices of North America, Europe, China and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region. Some of the challenges that the company has run into are: talent management systems designed in Korea that don’t necessarily fit the needs of U.S. and European employees as well as cultural differences.
Ken Cottrell, Doosan’s vice president of talent management and capability, who nominated Christenson for a Game Changers award, says when Christenson came to Korea, “I think the intention was to have him learn and then take back the company’s culture to the U.S. However, after realizing his capability, his role has grown.”