When I think about Arizona, I can’t help but start humming “A Horse With No Name,” there’s no good reason other than it’s lines about wandering through a desert. My experiences with the home to one of the coolest Scotch libraries in the country, Camelback Mountain, more amazing golf courses than I can imagine has been exclusively via conferences. The first time I set foot in The Copper State I didn’t leave the airport, rather I was rushing from one end of Phoenix International to the other hoping not to miss my connecting flight home after a surreal few days working the floor at an industry conference in my corporate days. After several long days and late nights, I was a bit shell-shocked and starting to reconsider what kind of organization I wanted to continue my career in (note: I shortly thereafter moved to the non-profit sector before landing in higher education).
A couple of years later, the non-profit I was working for at the time hosted their annual leadership conference in Phoenix. It was a wholly different experience where I spent several days networking, learning, and leading colleagues from across the country about how we as an organization could be better, serve our constituents in new and greater ways, and better connect to our mission. It was an awesome week that felt like a second tipping point for my career as I better realized what kind of organization and culture I wanted to work in and what kind of work and impact I wanted my career to have.
Many years later I found myself in Scottsdale attending and presenting at a vendor hosted conference focused on HR service delivery and technology; I left the meetings with a renewed professional vigor and a head full of ideas that have led to an evolved HR Service Delivery function at my university and the development of our People Data and Analytics team. It was here that I was introduced to the insights of Sally Hogshead and a year later in an equally sunny locale the amazing knowledge bombs of Michael Bungay Stanier.
And in a few short weeks I find myself headed back to Arizona for the CUPA-HR Higher Education Symposium where I have the fortunate opportunity to sit on a keynote panel with the likes of Peter Cappelli, Allison Vaillancourt, and David Blake following Dr. Cappelli’s Symposium opening keynote presentation and then co-presenting with colleagues from the University of Missouri System as the final workshop/presentation on “Isolation is no longer an option: Why HR must work across functions to be the strategic business partner it needs to be.”
I hope to see some of you there, I hope to walk away having learned as much as I have shared, and I suspect I’ll come back with new ideas, notions, and perspectives that will change me, my teams, and how we do the work we do.