Bridgestone Southern Africa strengthens business positioning with strategic new HR hire
Karen McDonald, Human resource director at Bridgestone Southern Africa

Bridgestone Southern Africa has appointed Karen McDonald as the People (HR) Director for the business. McDonald will be an influential part of advancing key initiatives and talent strategies within the business and strengthening its positioning as a top employer. In her role, she will shape Bridgestone’s people strategy to ensure that through its people, the business delivers on its sustainability priorities and retains its credentials as one of the leading companies to work for. 

McDonald brings almost two decades of experience in HR leadership to the position, having worked across the African continent in the financial services, manufacturing, and industrial gas industries.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity to be a part of a company with industry-leading people, products, solutions and customer service,” McDonald says.  “Bridgestone has a palpable pro-employee work environment. It’s a company that puts people first and acknowledges its employees as drivers of progress. It’s an honour for me to be part of the Bridgestone family.”

“A key objective for me is to support the company’s commitment to the realisation of a sustainable society by delivering value added partnerships through the people division,” she adds. “Increasing female representation in a male dominated industry across the various occupational levels is another area where I would like to contribute in a meaningful way.”

McDonald believes that transformation has to be intentional and must be part of an organisation’s cultural fabric. “Companies, their leadership and employees need to have a heart for fully embracing all aspects of transformation. The people function plays an important role in strengthening the company’s transformation commitment and building an inclusive and diverse culture where all employees feel like they belong.”

Recognising that optimisation plays an important role across every function in a company, she says she will strive to find technological solutions that match Bridgestone’s business needs and support better and more effective ways of working.

McDonald is an accomplished HR leader who has worked for several organisations who have gone through different forms of growth and transformation. She has held a variety of HR roles with increasing responsibility, most recently as the General Manager of HR at an industrial gas company, Air Products South Africa. Prior to that she was employed by General Electric for more than five years in a number of different HR roles. She has won awards for internal customer service (Air Products) and for being an integrity ambassador (GE). She is skilled in the development and implementation of HR strategy, HR leadership, talent management, HR operations, employee relations, and manager and employee engagement.

Her preferred leadership style is one of coaching and helping her team find novel solutions to the different challenges they may encounter. Outside for the workplace, McDonald is family focused and relishes spending time with her husband and two children.