8th August 1949 – 19th May 2020
It is with great sadness that we announce the sudden passing of our dear friend and colleague, Karl-Heinz Oehler, on May 19, 2020. We are shocked beyond belief at this personal and professional loss and we extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and to his rich network of friends and colleagues around the world. To all who knew him, Karl-Heinz conveyed a presence, a spirit, a kindness, and a wisdom that was truly unique. It is very hard for all of us to accept that we will never see that amazing smile again!
Denison Consulting Europe was formed in 2013 with Karl-Heinz as Managing Director. He was our Partner in so many ways. He built an outstanding team for us in Europe and we are all very proud of the many achievements we have had together. His wisdom and experience was invaluable not only to the team he built in Europe, but to the company as a whole. We learned a lot from him and he helped our entire company in countless ways. His legacy will shape our future for years to come, even though he is no longer here to do it in person.
Karl-Heinz had a long and distinguished professional career in Human Resources, Global Talent Management, and Organizational Development. He also held senior line leadership positions in major corporations and ran several consulting firms with distinction.
After completing a Staatsexamen in Social Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Economics at the University of Dusseldorf, he started his career in the airline industry with Sperry-Univac. After that, he worked for 15 years at Texas Instruments in Human Resources, Organizational Development, and Sales & Marketing, and then started up the Geneva branch of Personnel Decisions International, a major global consulting firm. From there, he stayed in Geneva but moved to SITA — Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques — as Vice President of Commercial Operations, Global Sales, and Organizational Development.
KHO then led Human Resources and Organizational Development for Reynolds & Reynolds, before joining the Hertz Corporation for seven years where he served as Senior Vice President of Global Talent Management. After working with Karl-Heinz for several years while he was at Hertz, we were truly delighted when one day he expressed interest in joining Denison Consulting as our European Managing Director!
Karl-Heinz’s contributions to our field have been recognized in many ways. He received the “HR & Business Success Award” and the prestigious “Dave Ulrich Award of HCM Excellence” – at the 2011 European HCM Excellence Awards. He received the Talent Leadership Award at the WORLD HRD CONGRESS 2012. This is the most prestigious accolade of their “Global HR Excellence Awards for 2011-2012” and the highest honour which an individual can receive for his or her contribution to HR. In addition, he won the “High Performance Award” from the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) based on his understanding of human capital strategies and financial measures, which Karl-Heinz has championed with all of the companies that he worked for.
Karl-Heinz was also a popular speaker and an accomplished author. He has written articles for various publications, including Training Industry Quarterly and Talent Engagement Review. In addition, he has written chapters for the “Executive Guide to Integrated Talent Management” and the “Integrated Talent Management Scorecards” books, both of which were published by ASTD.
He served on the boards of the Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) and Human Resource People & Strategy organization (HRPS), a SHRM affiliate. He was a certified Six Sigma Black Belt. He was also a certified organizational auditor of the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM). Karl-Heinz lived and worked in Korea, Singapore, the United States, the UK, Finland, Sweden, France, Switzerland and Germany.
To Karl-Heinz Oehler
Many of Karl-Heinz’s friends and colleagues have offered their thoughts about him. We hope that you can add your own remembrance below.
Please feel free to be in touch with us at KHO-Tribute@denisonculture.com if you have questions or private comments that you would like to make.
You were always the wisest man in the room, with a razor-sharp mind and a fine sense of humour and an incredible knowledge of human nature. I feel honoured and lucky to be able to look back on many exciting and funny experiences with you. Even if you are no longer directly available, it is good to think of you, you were an enrichment for everyone who knew you. Thank you, KHO, that I could learn so much from you!
I really miss you!
Dr. Stella Malsy, Chief People Officer, Logicalis GmbH (Germany)
There are people that leave an impression when you meet them. Karl-Heinz was one of those people for me. I did not know what to expect when he first came through the door, but I quickly connected, on a professional and personal level. With his accurate observations and candid feedback he helped me professionally. But it did not stop there: Conversations beyond work, sharing snippets of our personal life and pictures of us as younger self with long hair and life in front of us. Not to forget his sense of humour and not taking ourselves too seriously. While this is a sad time and he has gone too early, I will remember those meetings and moments.
Andreas Sewing Director R&D, Vegetables seeds BASF (Netherlands)
I’ll never ever forget him, since he was such an inspiring and friendly person. It was a privilege to have worked with him
Petra Geraedts vegetableseeds BASF (Netherlands)
Alistair, Jonty and I just wanted to say how shocked we were to learn of Karl-Heinz’s passing. From our very first meeting in the Sisters Restaurant across the road from the office in Glasgow, through numerous interactions, he was a man a great intellect, experience and full of wonderful stories. His drive and determination were amazing to see. He certainly established Denison in Europe as a force to be reckoned with.
Laurence J Clarke, Managing Director Taylor-Clarke (UK)
I really valued the opportunity of learning from Karl-Heinz at the certification workshops. His calm wisdom was highly valued by many.
From all at Elementa Leadership (UK)
… I am glad I got to experience him if just on a webinar. He truly was a remarkable and resourceful person.
Sigurd Eltvik, Founding Partner Strategica (Norway)
We will stand by your side and honour the wisdom Karl-Heinz so readily always shared.
Eva Wathen & Tuija Jannakka Bravemotion (Finland)
..He was just a wonderfully warm, generous-spirited and inspiring person. He is an enormous loss and I’m deeply sad that I won’t get to enjoy his company again… he clearly made a huge positive impression on so many people.
Ciaran Walker | Consultant | FS Regulation & Governance | Eversheds Sutherland (Dublin)
For me, Karl-Heinz was a man with considerable expertise, knowledge and integrity in this field. I met him for the first time, when he was visiting Stockholm in 2014 and was impressed by his experience. I feel that this area of expertise will be so much more empty and grey without him.
Pia Bergentoft Changelead (Sweden)
I can imagine how hard it is to lose a wonderful inspiring leader like Karl-Heinz. While I did not have the opportunity to work closely with him but definitely valued his presence during accreditation calls we had and his words of wisdom.
Rana Simaan, Kingdom of Bahrain
I recognise the tribute of “always being the wisest man in the room”- I had great respect and admiration always for his sharpness, accuracy, humour and humanity.
Patrick Ballin, Mileone (UK)
I will keep him in my mind in what he was – a great passionate leader and consultant.
There is so much that I learned from him and that I owe him.
Dr. Roman Timm, Partner Market Development &
Business Consulting, DuFour Capital (Switzerland)
On behalf of the Americas team we wanted to express our sympathy and condolences on the passing of your colleague and friend. Karl-Heinz was an inspirational man who I wish I could have spent more time with. He had so much wisdom that he was willing to share.
Bernie Willms, President and General Manager Americas. Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials Inc.
It is with sadness that we learnt of the death of Mr. Oehler.
On behalf of the DGNSI – State of Vaud – we send our sincere condolences to you in this particularly difficult moment. We will keep very good memories of our collaboration with him and Denison Europe. I will gladly remain at your disposal for future contact.
Marco Pambianchi – Directeur Ressources et soutien (RH, Achat, Finance, CdG)
Département des infrastructures et des ressources humaines (DIRH) (Switzerland)
To a colleague and friend, you will be missed. You had such an ability to consider all perspectives, cut to the heart of an issue, and apply respect and compassion. These are traits I hope to emulate.
Zachary Ackerman, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Amid all of the sadness and despair over the loss of a beloved colleague and friend, I’m struck every day by how many things I was still looking forward to doing with Karl-Heinz. Working, traveling, bicycling, music, dining, drinking, laughing, skiing, hiking. Our decade-long partnership was not nearly enough. Every day I find myself looking for more. I grateful that he will be in my heart and mind forever. His spirit will be with us forever!
Dan Denison, Ann Arbor
It is hard to put into words what Karl-Heinz meant to me and to all who were fortunate to call him a friend and colleague. He encouraged, challenged and inspired – all of the qualities you would want from a partner in our field. We are better for having known and worked with him and he will be truly missed.
Bryan Adkins, Pebble Beach, California