Conference Season (Part One)

There was a time before I started working in the university environment that I attended local and national conferences on a fairly regular basis, sometimes I was one of the people coordinating the action behind the scenes, other times I was one of the attendees. After moving into the university environment, where I worked at one of several campuses in a larger system for a number of years (six and a half if we’re counting), conferences stopped being a thing for me. Budgets were tight, priorities were elsewhere, and so on. That’s not to say that I didn’t make efforts to stay current or network – I was actively involved in local HR developmental opportunities both in and outside the higher ed space, but I only attended one conference in my time in campus HR. But if you’re a reader of this blog, you may know that I moved from a campus role to a university system role last summer (a role that has evolved and grown since) and priorities are different here. We’re looking at the big picture, we’re concerned with strategy, when I say “big data” I don’t get glassy eyed stares, needless to say my new job (which isn’t all that new anymore) is pretty amazing.

The people, the environment, the culture, the opportunities are all more than I could have expected; part of those opportunities includes the ability to focus on the professional development of both my team and myself. Which is truly awesome and means that those conferences I’d all but forgotten about are back on my radar.Each of the last two weeks has found me in the fortunate position to be sitting in breakout sessions, and super sessions, and talking about best practices with others in higher education and also industry HR.

First up was the the Towers Watson HR Service Delivery and Technology Forum – where I had the opportunity to sit down with subject matter experts, peers, and consultants to dive deep into the above referenced “big data” conversation. I presented to a generous audience on how my current organization has met the unique challenges of Healthcare Reform facing those in higher education HR; I met HR leaders from organizations like Nike, Pitney Bowes, Coach, Whirlpool, Target, and countless other great organizations along with finding myself in a unique situation to meet, greet, network, and pick the brains of a handful of outstanding higher education HR leaders from the likes of Penn State, University of Pennsylvania, Northeastern University, University of Colorado-Boulder, University of Colorado System, McGill University, University of Chicago, University of California-Davis, and many others.

To top off the event, I had the opportunity to listen to Sally Hogshead, participate in her Fascinate assessment (the topic of a near future post), learn a bit more about myself (and some of my team), and be on the receiving end of an advance copy of her new book How The World Sees Youa text I can’t recommend highly enough.

After four days (of learning, networking, and ogling the finest Scotch library I’ve ever seen) I hopped a flight home (a much easier experience than my flight to the conference which found me potentially missing connecting flights, booking and cancelling tickets while driving to the airport, and getting randomly picked to participate in a test of the TSA’s new PreCheck system) with a brain full of new insights, evolved opinions, and amazing new contacts, only to turn around a few days later and make the drive from my homebase in Saint Louis to Kansas City for the CUPA-HR Midwest Regional Conference.

Check in tomorrow to read about my time at CUPA Midwest, a late night dinner with a keynote speaker, a rehash of my poor dancing ability, and where else I think I might end up over the next couple of months.
The Human Resources Field Guide
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