Day 1 of i4cp’s 2012 Conference Goes to the Birds

OK, the title of this blog is an inside joke for conference attendees, so if you have friends or colleagues joining us in Scottsdale they can fill you in later. Avian distractions aside, Wednesday’s kickoff set a wonderful tone for the days ahead. With Scottsdale’s natural beauty as a backdrop and the exceptional care provided by the staff at the Fairmont Princess Resort, this year’s conference promises to surpass even last year’s highly-rated event.

Sprinkled with samplings of i4cp’s research, peer insights and new service offerings, day one set the stage for a five-star conference that has become a premier learning event for those charged with maximizing human capital performance. With well over 100 member companies represented, networking and sharing began early and continued throughout the day, guided by insightful sessions led by some of HR’s most respected speakers and practitioners.

John Boudreau, well know thought leader, professor, researcher and director with the Center for Effective Organizations was the keynote presenter with a session drawing from his latest book Transformative HR. Attendees were guided through the paradigm shift of viewing HR and people management as a strictly tactical and necessary expense to a future of the function that is increasingly strategic and a transformative catalyst that’s vital to organizational effectiveness. Driving this transformation is the emergence of evidence-based decision making that equips leaders, managers and employees to make talent decisions that align with bottom-line focused, overarching strategies.

Second on the roster was Deloitte’s Chief Learning Officer, Bill Pelster, who led attendees through the development of Deloitte University. While the decision to invest in the $300 million dollars state-of-the-art training and leadership center in Westlake, Texas was a contentious and counterintuitive move in the age of eLearning and training technology (as Bill put it “bricks over clicks”) , Bill shared how the decision is now paying dividends in both increased development capabilities and as a magnet for new talent. To the other learning professionals in the room, all I can say about this session is “Jealous much?”

Next up were two interviews with two outstanding leaders, Jay Deutsch, CEO of Bensussen Deutsch & Associates, Inc. (BDA) and Joseph Garbus, VP of Organization Capability at The New York Times Company. These candid and open discussions with best-practice practioners put a very human face on the challenges and power of organizations that view employees as people first and vital talent second.

After a short break for lunch where roundtable discussions kept the learning and networking flowing, the group reconvened with an excellent session that focused on showing how HR creates economic value for the organization led by Karl-Heinz Oehler, Hertz’s VP of Global Talent Management. Far from being a function that’s an expense to be tolerated, this engaging presentation showed how HR is an integral component of the value chain. Attendees learned how to translate HR outputs into tangible financial results as well as innovative ways for HR to model the financial impact of human capital interventions on the business results.

After that was a panel discussion featuring Patrick Dunn, Director of HR Operations for Merck; Cassie Brown, VP of HR Operations and Employee Relations at Scripps Networks; and Pat Insley, SVP of HR for Lincoln Financial Group. This lively discussion provided ample food for thought on human capital technology selection in an age where market consolidation is a seemingly daily occurrence that makes the Holy Grail of an integrated technology platform for all human capital data tracking an increasingly complex and confusing arena of shifting pitfalls. This session didn’t tell attendees what to buy, but focused on teaching them how to buy. One key takeaway: Interface is not integration.

The final session for day one came from Larry Milan, Vice President of Global Talent Management and Jacqui Robertson, Head of Multicultural Business Development for ING. This session focused on a framework for looking at culture as it relates to the effect of strategy and mindset. When it comes to making strategies happen, it’s the organization’s culture and driving mindsets that can either support or completely derail an initiative. Key takeaway: Promote a culture that embraces an open and flexible mindset, which allows for fluid shifts in strategy. Also, what works for executing strategies in one culture might not work in another, so keep your own mindset flexible if you want to positively affect change.

Capping off the day was a social gathering with desserts, nightcaps and a completely entertaining comedy performance by corporate comedian Greg Schwem, whose Comedy with a Byte styling was a perfect stress buster after a full day of learning, sharing and taking everything way too seriously.

Along with these informative and interactive events was the overriding hallmark of i4cp’s annual conference, the opportunity for organizations to openly and candidly exchange information in a safe, vendor free setting. Although the conference has just begun, i4cp members are already networking in the collegial spirit that makes this a singular opportunity that’s been highly prized by our members since the first conference of i4cp’s predecessor – the Human Resource Institute – in 1972.

As the week progresses, we’ll keep you updated.

And speaking of conference ratings, i4cp premiered to its own conference crowd a new rating feature that will help members make the difficult decision about what events to attend. If you’ve ever wondered what your peers were saying about human capital management industry events, take the time to browse, rate or comment on conferences past, present and future. This new i4cp offering is also an ideal place to connect with peers and let others know what events you’re planning to attend. Check out past conferences and see what’s on the horizon before dedicating precious resources. While you’re there, make sure to let us know what you’re thinking about i4cp’s conference so far.

Eric Davis
Eric received his master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Marshall University in 1996. He has had 20+ years of workforce experience in a variety of fields. Before coming to i4cp, he worked as a laboratory technician for DuPont, a conference planner for Marshall University, the public relations manager for the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Technical Manufacturing, and a graphic designer for COX Communications.