After almost 25 years in the industry, Klaus Duetoft is now the senior HR director for eBay in the Asia Pacific region – here, he spoke to HRM about the professional journey which led to his current role.
1990 – Studies both theory and practice
Klaus Duetoft studies for his HR degree while also working in the field in the public sector at the Department of Industrial Relations, Employment, Training & Further Education.
“I was fortunate in that I was able to experience a number of public sector organisations before going into the private sector. Often people get hit by the reality of an organisation that might not relate to the study; the real world application was invaluable.”
1994 – Begins career; finds North Star
Duetoft’s move from the public sector to the private, oftentimes a difficult conversion, is enabled by a hybrid OD/HR role at pharma Reckitt & Colman, an experience that had a formative effect on him.
“It really showed me the importance of HR leaders having a very clear set of values, articulating them, and being disciplined around them. The North Star of a set of values takes courage and ultimately that flows into the relationship you have with the company’s leaders.”
1999 – Finds high-tech, finds home
When he joins 3Com Asia Pacific in a regional HR/OD manager role, Duetoft steps straddles the dot-com bubble boom, thus his two years with the company is spent in an almost constant state of restructuring and evolution.
“I deal well with change; I wanted to experience an incredibly fast-moving environment. The moment I got into the high tech industry I thought ‘I’m home.’ I walked from a safe sector into a cauldron of fire.”
2001 – Takes the stage for major transformation
Duetoft joins Vodafone as a senior HR business manager as the company embarks on a massive transformation in a competitive landscape. As part of the launch of the values-based initiative, Duetoft participates in a stage production that tours the Australian states.
“There was song and dance – it was like a concert selling the values and the kind of future we wanted to create. It was a great lesson in the importance of authenticity, and being able to stand in the moment and the light of the values.”
2003 – Goes out on own
Duetoft confers with an executive coach and realises that one of his life’s dreams is to build a company. This leads to the founding of Irrelach Consulting, where one of his first clients was up-and-comer ebay.
“I noticed a window in the market for small to medium enterprises that wanted the same sort of advice, insight, and capability as a larger organisation from a HR perspective but can’t afford it – eBay was my foundation client.”
2008 – Joins the eBay family
Duetoft joins ebay as regional senior HR director for the Asia Pacific; a key for him is the fact that the regional role had the option of being based wherever he wanted to be. Over the next five years Duetoft makes over 300 business trips.
“I could see the impact that eBay could have on the world. These sorts of opportunities that truly make history are pretty rare. It was perfect timing to jump on board.”
2012 – Gets his breath back
At the prompting of a mentor, Duetoft takes some time off to spend with family to get his breath back – eBay subsequently creates a role for him to ensure his retention: the MyHR role for the Asia-Pacific region. It is a development that takes Klaus back to his days as a consultant.
“All the traits of a consultant I very much bought to my senior roles in HR; the parallel is that MyHR personifies this approach.”