Suzanne Kavanagh, Human Resources Director, Principal Connections’ HR Leader of the Month for January 2020


Q. THE CAREER & THE PERSON Describe your career journey and tell us about Suzanne Kavanagh the person?

Originally from Dublin I have always worked in Human Resources. After I graduated from NUIG my first role was with Intel. I then spent 3 years in Australia and when I returned home I worked for Diageo, GE, The Estee Lauder Companies and now with Europcar Mobility Group.

Q. THE COMPANY Describe your current company?

The mission of Europcar Mobility Group is to be the preferred “Mobility Service Company” by offering alternative attractive solutions to vehicle ownership, with a wide range of mobility related services: vehicle-rental, chauffeur services, car-sharing, scooter-sharing and peer-to peer car-rental. Customers’ satisfaction is at the heart of the Group’s mission and all of its employees and this commitment fuels the continuous development of new services.

Q. THE CHALLENGES What do you see as the most important challenges facing HR Leaders today?

I see the biggest challenge as how we as leaders prepare and respond to change. It’s important that we enable our employees to be able to react to a constant state of change. We need to ensure that the organisation is structured in a way that departments and employees can respond and react to change and learn to be more agile.

Q. THE ADVANCES What do you believe the biggest advances in human resources will be over the next five years?

Obviously when we think of the future we think of how technology can advance how we do things. And technology will definitely change how we all work and interact with each other. Data analytics will feed into our decision making. With a focus on automation many roles will be redefined and career plans will look very different. I hope that the biggest advancement in HR will not to be to remove the human part and that employees will still have access to a real experience.

Q. THE ADVICE What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

Very early on in my career, a manager told me “you cant know everything”. This has been key for me in that I was waiting to be an expert before I offered advice but management is about managing in ambiguity, some of the toughest decisions you make. Although well informed you don’t have all the information or know exactly how the outcome will be but you need to be confident enough in your ability to make that decision. It is advice that I still use for new managers who are used to being subject matter experts and then find themselves dealing with ambiguity and decision making.

Q. THE MOTIVATION What keeps you motivated day to day?

I love change and I love supporting people in responding to change. A regular part of my day job is providing advice or coaching managers dealing with a new situation and that keeps it fresh and interesting. Europar is a highly innovating entrepreneurial group and I enable the organisation to respond to that change so that keeps it very interesting for me.

Q. THE ACHIEVEMENT What has been your proudest career achievement to date?

I always struggle with this one! I think its because of my approach to things, I like challenges and once I achieve them I move on to the next. I never really reflect back and think how happy I was that I achieved that. I probably should but its not the way I am wired. For me, life is about continuous learning and continuous progression so for that reason I think I am proud that I am where I am and working in the organisation I am in now.

Q. THE STAYING CURRENT How do you stay up to date?

I read a lot of journals, email subscriptions and listen to the news. A big part of staying up to date is not just about HR but the business of mobility that I am in. How people use transport is changing around us all the time.

Q. THE DOWNTIME Tell us about your interests and how you relax?

That’s funny. With 3 kids I don’t relax that much but nature is very important. I will try most weekends to get at least one walk surrounded by trees. I also read a lot and I am currently reading Hillary Clinton’s book which gives a lot of insight as to how their political voting system is set up as it is very different to Ireland.


Thank you Suzanne Kavanagh for your participation in our HR Leaders Series.


Europcar Mobility Group has been Europe’s leading car rental provider for almost 70 years and one of the major players in the mobility sector. As a car rental company, Europcar built the fundamentals of the usage and sharing economies into its core business – mobility – a long time ago.

Europcar Mobility Group delivers its mobility solutions worldwide through an extensive network in 133 countries (including 16 wholly owned subsidiaries in Europe, 2 in Australia and New Zealand, franchises and partners). With 6,500 employees committed to delivering customer satisfaction and an average fleet of 190,000 vehicles.

Europcar was the winner or the first World Travel Award recognizing the World’s Leading Green Transport Solutions Company, Europcar also was honoured with the Award in 2010 and 2011.

Europcar shares (EUCAR) are listed on the Euronext Paris stock exchange.


Principal Connections is Ireland’s leading senior executive search firm and the only Irish Member of Agilium Worldwide Executive Search Group, one the world’s largest, oldest and premier global executive headhunting organisations. Together with our colleagues across 55 Offices in 30 Countries, each year we complete in excess of 1300 Assignments within most Major Industries and Functional Areas.

For many years, Principal Connections has advised on the most influential senior, executive and board appointments that have emerged within Irish business. Organisations of all shapes and sizes from all over Ireland (Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Belfast etc.) refer to us when it matters most, to solve their most important executive search and leadership consulting and assessment challenges.

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Principal Connections is Ireland’s leading Executive Search Firm and the Irish Office of Agilium Worldwide LLC.

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