Some tips and stories from #SHRM19Blogger Paula Harvey.
This will be my nineteenth consecutive SHRM conference and fourth time in Las Vegas. The other three “Vegas” SHRM conferences were in 2007, 2011, and 2015. Each one was unique in my reason for attending and the interesting experiences that I had. The first time I went to Vegas was as a broke, recent college graduate as I was moving to Los Angeles for a new job. The second time was as matron of honor at my sister-in-law’s wedding while corralling my twin two-year-olds in 1994. By 2007, I was ready to visit Las Vegas as a HR professional.
2007- “Winning Professionally” conference. I was really excited to attend this conference as it was the first time for me to go to Vegas for a conference. Since my twins were in high school and I was working on doctoral studies, I had to go on the cheap. So we found an economical hotel that we thought was in walking distance of the convention center. We realized that it looked close on the map, but in 100 plus degree temperatures a mile walk was not possible. So don’t rely on a map as places are so much bigger in Vegas especially hotels. If you are not at a hotel on the SHRM shuttle bus route plan to Uber/Lyft to the convention center. Also wear comfortable shoes and your feet will thank you. A SHRM employee advised me to buy Gold Bond foot relief lotion for my aching feet.
The 2007 conference was a milestone conference for me as I really learned the value of networking. I had recently earned a certification requiring global credits to maintain. I attended every global session possible. In the session “Key Labor Laws in India”, I got there early and sat on the front row and met the speaker Debi Saini. She introduced me to a gentleman who organized conferences in India which gave me the opportunity to headline a safety conference in India a couple of years later. You never know who you might meet at a conference and what opportunities might emerge from that new contact.
2011- “Innovative Solutions for What’s Next in HR” conference. This was the year of embracing technology. SHRM rolled out the mobile app for the conference which was innovative at the time. Many sessions were held on social media. We had a Tweet Up event as attendees were highly encouraged to tweet about the conference (my twitter handle is @Paula4Harvey). Michael J. Fox gave a keynote speech that was so inspirational that there were very few dry eyes in the audience. His book “Always Looking Up” is awesome.
The highlight of this conference for me was an unexpected event. Our local Charlotte area SHRM chapter president, Rhonda, had recently lost her husband to illness. She was grieving, but said she wanted to attend the conference. She is a huge Keith Urban fan. He was the entertainer at the conference and “wow” did he ever put on an amazing concert. He went out in the audience all over the conference hall. I urged her forward and he sang straight to her and kissed her on the cheek. She said she wouldn’t wash her cheek for a week. It was such a “WOW” moment.
2015- “It’s Time to Thrive” conference. This was a great theme for me having just uprooted my whole life and career to move back to Texas from North Carolina to be near family. My daughter (conference roomie/sidekick) had just graduated with her degree in HR, so she was embarking on her HR career. She says the annual SHRM conference is our annual mother-daughter adventure. We usually stay at Treasure Island as we love the pirate theme. I also brought my new job’s HR manager, Christina, with us for her first SHRM annual conference.
This conference was so inspirational especially seeing it thru the eyes of two millennial HR ladies. They were overwhelmed by the exposition hall and the hundreds of vendors for the 15,000 attendees. I had to warn them to not grab all the giveaways as they will be hard to take back. They both loved the Smart Stage presentations as the presentations contained useful bite-sized information from practitioners and experts. My daughter became a Steve Gilliland fan-girl. She had seen him speak at previous conferences, but she was so inspired by him in Vegas that she attended all his sessions.
Some of my takeaways from this conference were to wear comfortable clothes for 100 degree weather. It will be hot, so dress accordingly and bring extra clothing as you may need to change for evening events. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated. Also plan ahead for your evening events, as many shows are sold out weeks in advance especially if you want good seats. The conference app is great to plan which sessions you want to attend. Have several options in case the room is full or you decide the topic is not what will be useful to you. Please be respectful if you get up and leave in the middle of a session.
2019- “Creating Better Workplaces” SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition. This year I will be blogging, tweeting #SHRM19Blogger, and captaining the SHRM Foundation FitBit #HRAwesomeness team. My hopes are to continue growing my HR network and learning about innovative information to bring back to my organization.
See ya in Vegas!!!
#SHRM19 Here I come! --Paula
Paula H. Harvey, MBA-HRM, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, GPHR
Vice President of Human Resources & Safety, Schulte Building Systems, Inc.