I was filled with excitement to be attending our first HRD Summit in Birmingham this week. Since launching LACE, we’ve been to many such events, but none with quite so many senior professionals in one place! We were attending this year in a very unique position: as exhibitors, speakers, facilitators and attendees. This gave us a chance to experience the conference in all its many facets.
There’s no doubt that the ICC caters incredibly well for a conference of over 1500 people. Slick entrance and registration, good apps to guide you around and help you connect. The app’s messenger function even led to me re-connecting with a long-lost friend now out of corporate life and looking for connections. The layout of the event worked well with many of the halls in use for talks and discussions. There were some nice touches too – in the open lecture areas there were ‘silent disco’ style headsets to aid the audio visual.
The quality of speakers was unrivalled. Day 1 saw Danny Harmer, Master of the HR Guild and CPO of Metro Bank, opening the event. Josh Bersin led discussion groups and speakers like the HRDs of Diageo, Unilever and Bupa to name but a few. I had the privilege of chairing a panel on the changing face of OD in organisations, with 3 amazing HR Leaders from Thai Union, KP Crisps and Selfridges. What did these speakers all have in common? Their view that the time of the Human had returned to HR. That we now needed to embrace engagement, happiness, wellbeing and recognise that this is the secret to productive and winning organisations, if combined with clear purpose and strong leaders. Mr Branson, you weren’t wrong!
In the afternoon, I was fortunate enough to be asked to give a ‘lightning talk’ about tech adoption in one of the 15 minute break-out sessions. Making sure our clients get the very best from their tech programs and can achieve as close to full adoption of their software is something that at LACE, we’re really passionate about, and you can take a look at some of our previous articles on the topic here and here.
The exhibitors in the newly re-vamped tech village faired less well in terms of footfall. In the technology areas we spotted a few old friends: Peachy Mondays and Arctic Shores; as well as some great new finds, including the Engage platform for VR conferencing and teaching (a firm favourite of ours).
My favourite part of the day was the live twitter feed interview with Emily Sexton-Brown, Editor of Content for Contentive. Positioned alongside the HR giant, Ian Williams HRD at the British Council, we discussed HR, the Future of Work and Ian’s favourite topic…Brexit. It was a great experience to debate and discuss these hot topics which are shaping our world today.
Networking over all during the day was tough, as it always is in lecture led events, but in the evening we attended Contentive’s unveiling of the HRD Awards shortlist and had a chance to mingle with the leaders of HR. It was great to see old friends in a relaxed environment, and to be introduced to new ones who will become long term friends of LACE I am sure.
Overall, a big thumbs up, we had a blast, heard great speakers and met old and new friends – what a great way to start the year!
Author: Aaron Alburey