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Thoughts after the AHRI 2015 Conference

August 31, 2015


“It only takes one person to make a ripple of change”


I think this was the most powerful sentence I gained from the 2015 National AHRI Conference. Now that’s a big call given I attended two full days, the Friday workshop with Dave Ulrich and the opening keynote presentation by Rabia Siddique, who said the sentence in question.


What a fabulous array of presenters and topics  – something for every HR professional, whether you are a specialist or generalist, come from a small or large organisation, no matter your industry or sector. Sometimes it was difficult to choose which concurrent session to attend and it was great to be able to meet new people and catch up with those you hadn’t seen for a while and chat over lunch or afternoon tea about the session you didn’t get to attend and fill them in on the one you attended, that they missed out on.


I also used the opportunity to refresh my passion for the HR profession and attend sessions which truly reflect the components of HR I enjoy most.  I found that HR continues to evolve and grow as a profession and people (especially women) continue to enter the profession in big numbers and that many HR professionals struggle in the same areas that I do – too much routine and not enough focus on the creative and the strategic.


On reflecting with other delegates throughout the course of the conference, we felt  there was a large focus on strategy this year and many of the presenters, or ‘thought leaders’ as I heard them called a few times, talked about the biggest gap in an HR Managers job being the strategic component. In Adam Fraser and John Molineux’s session they reported from a study of over 800 HR professionals that strategic work represented only 10% of the work done by HR Managers.


In Dave Ulrich’s workshop about HR competencies for the future he said that currently there isn’t always an expectation for HR professionals to be ‘strategic positioners’, nor have they delivered in this area but this is the future.


He said  HR professionals need to be collaborative and be able to add value to the business by  having an  “outside-in” approach and interpreting business trends in the following areas –


  • Social

  • Technological

  • Economic

  • Political

  • Environmental

  • Demographic

In Nicholas Barnett’s presentation on “What is good HR: From the outside in” the message was much the same – that HR professionals must be future focused and customer centric and the biggest gaps in capabilities are being leaders in culture and change and being strategic architects or positioners.


So from a strategic perspective I have a lot more to read about and to consider about how to put some of these learnings into practice. I take heart from the statement that Dave Ulrich made that strategic can simply mean small changes or ideas that can make a difference over time.    That seems to tell me that it’s true that sometimes it can just take a ripple to make a change.


The presentation that had the most impact on me though was that given by Rabia Siddique. It was a personal and powerful story and the audience was enthralled from the beginning. Her story was about courage, determination and bravery but at the end she also spoke about how if each of us make a ripple of change we can make a wave – something that is really powerful. She said when it matters we should do something uncomfortable – speak up, stand up, challenge, be courageous and true to your essence. As a woman and an HR professional this was a truly inspiring message and one that will be important to share with others.


Thanks AHRI for giving me the opportunity to be inspired and refreshed, to learn and to meet other professionals.  Counting the days until the 2016  conference.

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