“Our people are the key to our success. That is something I strongly believe in and live every day in my job as Chief Human Resources Officer at Brenntag. We are a highly people-oriented company. Being attractive for potential new employees and staying attractive for our current employees is Brenntag’s ultimate HR ambition. Together with my global team we do everything to fulfill this ambition. We aim to connect people to our company – to our vision, strategy, goals and to our partners.
Having competent and passionate employees is the golden combination which I aim for in all that I do. I’m very proud to work for a company that has people really at the heart of its business.”
Interview with Marion Mestrom
“People are at the heart of our business.”
Marion Mestrom works as Chief Human Resources Officer for the Brenntag Group, reporting to the CEO and is based at Brenntag’s headquarter in Essen, Germany. In this role she has defined and aligned the HR vision and strategy, has set the agenda and is driving Brenntag’s Human Resources ambitions to the next level. In this interview she shares what makes working at Brenntag so special and gives us an insight into her HR vision for Brenntag.
Marion, what attracted you to Brenntag when you decided to work for the company in 2015?
When I was approached by a search company for this position, I didn’t know Brenntag. I did some research on the internet to get some information and a first impression. What attracted me was the fact that Brenntag is a successful company with a clear strategy and an ambition, creating value through global reach. What became clear in the interviews was the human face of the company – an open and straightforward company with the sincere aim to build up global HR. I liked that a lot. Brenntag certainly is a people-oriented company with an entrepreneurial spirit. All these aspects were a confirmation for me that Brenntag was the right company to join.
What would you say is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is working for a great company with committed people, being able to lead the change towards an even more modern global people company as well as finding the right balance between our entrepreneurial spirit and necessary globalization. It is great to be in the position to co-design the future of Brenntag whilst working with a mix of generations and cultures.
What is your vision for HR at Brenntag?
My vision for Brenntag is to be the employer of choice. To achieve this, we need to ensure that we are not only attractive for potential new employees but also continuously remain attractive for current employees. People are a scarce resource. Finding the right people and investing in our existing people is vital for the success of our company now and in the future. Having passionate and competent people is a golden combination that creates success for the company and also for the people themselves.
Of course people are the most important resource you have in a company. If we in Brenntag don’t have the right people, then we can’t deliver. People are the leading indicator because they are the ones that design a strategy, execute it, sell the products and create lasting business relationships internally and externally. So, it’s the people who are at the heart of our business.
In the film we see you in Rotterdam. What is the connection you have with this city?
I did my Master of Business Administration in Rotterdam. What I always liked about Rotterdam was the fact that it is a city that has a hands-on mentality and has developed from being a very traditional to a very modern city. I’ve always admired a combination of vision and hands-on mentality in people and companies as this means “getting the right things done”.
Brenntag for me has a lot of similarities with Rotterdam. We also have this pragmatic can-do mentality which is absolutely needed to be successful. Of course, we are strategic; we have a vision but coupled with this mentality we actually deliver on our vision and strategy.
What would you tell an applicant why he or she should join Brenntag?
I would say that Brenntag really is a great company to work for. It’s a company that is successful, that has an ambition, that is not complacent and is a people-oriented company. We believe in our values and embrace them.
Safety First is of course, as a chemical distributor, an absolute necessity and it is always important for our people to be and feel safe. It is also vital for our customers and suppliers that we are, next to a partner that delivers value, also a safe and reliable partner. Therefore, our employees are empowered to take the right decisions in view of safety. Of course, our other values are important too.
Marion, what does ConnectingChemistry mean to you?
Of course, ConnectingChemistry is about connecting our suppliers, customers and our people. But from an HR perspective ConnectingChemistry is also about connecting our people to our company, so that they are passionate about Brenntag and what they do. Connecting people is key in whatever we do.
Connecting people to the company strategy and goals, to their colleagues, to our values and our partners throughout the value chain. This is what ConnectingChemistry means to me. Being and feeling connected is the basis for passion which again is the key to success.
Fact Sheet Marion Mestrom
Montfort, The Netherlands
I have an 18 year old son.
I have three master degrees:
Educational Science (University Nijmegen, Netherlands), Pedagogics (University of Leiden, Netherlands) and Business Administration (Erasmus University Rotterdam/Simon Business School – University of Rochester N.Y)
Career at Brenntag:
I started to work for Brenntag in 2015 as Chief Human Resources Officer.
I like being outside as I enjoy nature. You can really free your head while hiking, running, riding the bike or skiing. I also love to cook with friends, listen to music or read. Last but not least I love spending time with my son. Unfortunately, time is scarce, but I try to find the right balance between my job and doing all the other things I like to do.
Past or present famous people to have dinner with?
I could think of a number of people but one I would like to mention is Nelson Mandela. I have been on Robben Island and seen the circumstances where he was held captive for many years. Even more respect that he stayed very balanced during this time and managed to become president. This is what I believe in: You need to know what you want to achieve – go for it and take people along – do not give up – discuss and challenge but in a respectful manner.