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Dirk Buengel

Associate Professor of Practice
Dirk Buengel
2057 Pamplin (0233)
880 West Campus Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Focus Area(s) 

Leadership, strategy development & implementation, management consulting, organizational development, change management, business sustainability 


  • Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany, 1991
  • MBA in Marketing & Finance 



Dirk is an accomplished, broadly qualified, and internationally experienced senior executive with a proven track record in achieving profitable and sustainable growth in various global Fortune 500 companies. His experience is extensive and diverse – from working in different regions (Europe, Latin America, North America), managing different business models (innovation-driven specialties business and commodity business) to working in different industries (engineering & electronics, fast-moving consumer goods, chemical industry, consulting). Dirk’s leadership approach is to translate vision and strategy into operative results with and through people, creating a high-performance and customer-centric organization that is winning in the market. He also has a strong background in human resource management, management consulting and people & organizational development.  

Dirk started his career at Siemens in Munich, Germany in 1992 in Human Resource Development and then moved on to an operative role as Purchasing Manager in Global Procurement. 

In 1995, he joined Henkel in Duesseldorf, Germany where he held positions in International Management Development and as HR Director for one of Henkel’s six divisions.

In 1999, Dirk joined Cognis in Monheim, Germany where he spent five years as Vice President of Human Resources leading HR & Corporate Communications in Europe and heading the company’s global talent management and corporate recruitment function.

From 2004 to 2007 Dirk transferred to Mexico City, Mexico to become the General Manager of Cognis leading a multi-SBU business in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. 

From 2007 to 2010 Dirk lead the North American business of Cognis’ Care Chemicals division out of Philadelphia, PA.

In 2011, Dirk took over the leadership of the newly created Care Chemicals Division in North America after BASF, the world’s largest chemical company, acquired Cognis. As Senior Vice President, he led an organization with approximately 1,000 employees, annual revenue of $2bn, ten production sites and five innovation centers. In his six years at BASF, he developed and implemented new business strategies, drove above-market growth, supported partnerships with key customers, restructured under-performing parts of the business and developed the organization and culture. He also served as a Board Member of the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) and the Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA).  

As of 2017 Dirk works as a self-employed management consultant providing guidance and support to clients in the life science industry and other businesses. His consulting expertise includes strategy development and implementation, sustainability, business transformation, change management, organizational development, leadership development & coaching, and M&A projects from due diligence to post-merger integration. He also works as a management consultant for the international consulting firm SustainUp. SustainUp works as transformation architects with senior executives in the intersection of business sustainability and strategy. Dirk offers strategy coaching for companies that aspire to transform their business to the next level of sustainability. He coaches and consults leaders on how to integrate sustainability into strategies, business models, organization and managerial control with core areas in strategy baselining, strategy refinement, strategy alignment and a strategy-focused organization.

Educational Background 

Dirk graduated from Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany in 1991 with the equivalent of an MBA in Marketing and Finance.


A native from Duesseldorf, Germany, Dirk lives together with his wife, Kelly, and their Goldendoodle, Toby. Dirk loves sports (running, spinning), soccer (following his favorite team, Borussia Dortmund), good food, theater, music and traveling abroad.