When I think back over the course of my HR career thus far (now nearly two decades long….yikes! When did that happen?), I can say with certainty that there were distinct moments in time that helped to define and shape the course of my career. These times may not have been “moments” in the context of minutes, hours, and days, but they were moments in time in the context of transformational periods – some more finite in nature, and some that were a bit more of a slower evolution. But regardless of the manner in which they happened, the outcome was the same…they provided a crossroads where afterwards my career trajectory changed in a fundamental and noticeable way.
I never planned for a career in HR. I was a marketing major in college, interned with a professional sports team and was adamant about pursuing a career in marketing to some extent upon graduation. A series of circumstances found me in a temp role in the HR department of a well-known and prominent locally headquartered company (spoiler alert – it’s the same company at which I still work today!). I was ultimately offered a full-time, permanent position within the HR department; and I took it, thinking it was my foot in the door to other opportunities, hopefully within marketing. It wasn’t until several years later, under the leadership, guidance and encouragement of a new boss, that the lightbulb went off and I finally saw a compelling career path in Human Resources. It was a realization that HR was so much more than my initial perception of it. That not only could I do it, but that maybe I even wanted to do it. Breakthrough Moment #1.
Fast forward to approximately 10 years later. In the midst of the hype surrounding and the onset of the proliferation of social media, a fairly new colleague introduced me to the wonders of Twitter. I was in awe. Through the connections I was able to make, I opened up a whole new world of HR professionals with whom I’d have never otherwise crossed paths. I gained exposure to new trends and ideas I may have missed having worked in the same environment for so long. I met; I connected; I started blogging. I had opportunities to get involved in events I would have never known about. And I learned. I became a far better HR professional than I could ever have imagined because of what I was being exposed to and was, therefore, able to bring back to my job. Not only have I been able to become a much bigger contributor to my company’s overall success through what I’ve learned, I’ve also had the opportunity to contribute to the profession as a whole outside of my company. My career went down a path I never imagined existed just a few short years ago. Breakthrough Moment #2.
The key to these breakthrough moments was an open mind, a willingness to try something new, exposure to ideas and the opportunity to keep learning and growing, and leveraging the knowledge of those around me. The theme for the 2016 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition is “Breakthrough,” and it offers just these things: exposure to new ideas through a multitude of sessions; the ability to network and leverage the knowledge and experience of thousands of other HR professionals; and an opportunity to get outside of your everyday environment and maybe think about things just a little bit differently. Maybe it will be something that one of the keynote speakers - Alan Mulally, Mike Rowe, Amy Cuddy, Paul Begala, Tucker Carlson, and Sal Kahn - says that will inspire you. Maybe it will be an actionable takeaway from one of the hundreds of concurrent sessions that you can apply back home. Maybe it’ll be a tidbit from a Smart Stage presenter, or something that someone you meet says that will alter the way you approach something at work. Or maybe just being there and absorbing all that the conference has to offer will start your own slow transformation that will ultimately lead to your breakthrough moment.
The possibilities are nearly endless.
See you all in Washington, D.C. in June!
For more information and to attend SHRM 2016 Annual Conference & Exposition, visit www.annual.shrm.org.