Interview with Ralf Hocke - of Spring Messe Management, the organiser of Zukunft Personal Europe

Zukunft Personal Europe was celebrating its 20th edition and has become one of the biggest HR Tech events in Europe with over 18.000 visitors and hundreds of exhibitors.

We got the opportunity to interview Ralf Hocke - CEO of Spring Messe Management, the organiser of Zukunft Personal Europe – about the event, his personal experience and of course HR Tech.




1. It is already the 20th edition of Zukunft Personal Europe, the biggest HR Tech gathering in Europe. Why was the event created in the first place and what has changed over the years?

HR software became increasingly common in human resources departments in the 1990s. It especially reformed payroll accounting and human resource administration. The demand for such products rose steadily because digitalisation allowed us to deal with quantitative tasks and process standard services much better, much faster and more easily than before. So the time was ripe to bring together people and products on a platform.

Over the last twenty years, HR has changed enormously from a primarily administrative role to a strategically structuring role. The Zukunft Personal Europe has accompanied and supported this development. With its unique symbiosis of an interactive presentation programme combined with suitable product solutions and exciting network opportunities, it has gradually become the leading expo event in the European HR sector over the last twenty years.


Today, it is no longer regarded as just a human resources exhibition but is also a catalyst for any issues relating to human resources and corporate transformation.


2. Why should anyone visit Zukunft Personal in Cologne this year? What is the unique value for the visitor?


As a leading exhibition, the Zukunft Personal Europe showcases the entire HR process. This is also reflected in our exhibition themes: recruiting, corporate health and the digital learning experience as well as the marketplace for human resource services and the Future of Work Village.


This year, we have developed the concept of the Future of Work Village still further in collaboration with our partner, Design Offices.


The exhibitors will be presenting their services under one of the four headings:

  1. Tools & Methods

  2. Leadership

  3. Culture & Mindset

  4. Skills & Competences


There are numerous lectures and discussion rounds on every aspect of digital transformation on the Future of Work Campus.


We also have some high-calibre international keynote speakers, including the bestselling author John Strelecky, for example. He will be transferring the key messages from his bestseller “Big Five for Life” to human resource management and change processes.


Another highlight is the Start-up Village. With over 100 exhibitors from ten countries, it is the biggest and most international HR start-up hub in Europe.


3. What is your personal view? Is there an evolution in solutions and/or audience?


The core issues have not changed substantially. For example, recruiting has always been a dominant theme right from the start. Software and hardware and also learning and training are also sector trends that continue to be highly relevant.


Both the recruiting and the hardware and software halls are now booming marketplaces underlining their economic power. This development is particularly driven by the digitalisation of the entire HR process: from job applications on paper to online job markets and applications sent via mobile devices.


4. What drives your passion for HR Tech?

HR and exhibition organisers are people businesses, and everyone has some point of contact with HR, either through their private or professional lives.


I really enjoy bringing together people and markets, being constantly up to date as a platform provider and being able to shape the development of this sector. It is also incredibly exciting to see how digital transformation is affecting every area of a company.


5. As an HR Tech expert, what is the best advice you can give anyone regarding HR Tech and HR Tech implementation?


Technology can be an enabler of company transformation if it serves to simplify processes, streamline structures and increase efficiency. The important thing is that it is used and introduced sensibly. And last but not least, people must be able to use the technology and use it for their own purposes.


All in all, it is a huge transformation project in which people need to be involved from the start, otherwise it just won’t work. Companies therefore need to allocate enough time and money to ensure staff receives adequate training.

Thank you Ralf Hocke.

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