As a local Chicagoan, I didn’t have to travel very far for #SHRM18, but it was still a new and exciting experience since I was a first-time attendee to the SHRM National Conference. I was fortunate to be able to attend the conference with two other colleagues - Tony Zamora, HR Manager, and Shannon Yates, HR Manager. Tony is a regular SHRM Blogger and he gave both Shannon and I an inside look at his partnership with such a great organization.
The SHRM conference is certainly an experience. I have never attended a conference so large – 22,000 people passionate about HR. With so many people and sessions to go with, you can’t help but feel a “buzz” around the event. The whole experience is motivating, and you wish you could be in multiple sessions at the same time to take in all the great content.
A few of my highlights:
- The Conference EXPO. We headed to the Exposition (aka EXPO) on our first day of the conference. The EXPO was an overwhelming spectacle with hundreds of vendors, helpful reps onsite, lots of information and giveaways! Some vendors were already familiar and others offered products/services I had never even heard of before. Going to the EXPO really sheds some light on the solutions that are available and could help any organization get to the next level. I have personally gone through the process of introducing a new vendor in the last year (with whom I connected with through the SHRM Talent Conference 2017), which ended up significantly increasing the efficiency of a particular process, and at the same price we were paying with the previous vendor.
- The General Session. To start, being in one room with 22,000 people is pretty incredible. It’s hard to even see from one side of the room to the other. The General Session started each day off with an exciting spirit and a few gold nuggets of information to remember. The keynote speakers each brought their own unique perspective and value to the conference. In particular, I very much enjoyed hearing Sheryl Sandberg speak about offering support to employees – asking questions like “what can I do?”, listening more than you speak, and being specific in your actions. I was inspired to pick up a copy of her book, Lean In, to learn even more.
- The Concurrent Sessions. I had a very hard time narrowing down the list of the sessions that I would attend when planned out my schedule for #SHRM18. For each timeslot, I had 3-4 sessions marked that I felt would be valuable to attend. I ended up organizing by topic area and scheduling that way, but the difficulty I had in making these choices is a result of the great content that is being shared at this event. I wish I could have cloned myself and attended all of them. Luckily, I did have other colleagues attending as well to share notes with.
The theme of #SHRM18 challenges HR professionals to “expand our world”, which certainly happened for me personally. After the final day of the conference, I was ready to review all my notes and break down everything I had learned.
My last points will be ones of thanks to those who contributed to my going to #SHRM18. I would like to express my appreciation to the SHRM contacts who made it possible for my colleagues and I to attend the conference - Mary Kaylor & Andrew Morton. To Tony Zamora, an amazing mentor and supervisor who extended the invitation for me to attend. Finally, to my employer for supporting my taking the time away from the office for this growth opportunity. Thank you all!