SHRM16: All About Preparing for the Coming Political Storm


As 2016 is the year of a presidential election, it was quite fitting that SHRM’s Annual Conference and Exposition was held in Washington D.C.  While storm clouds may continue to gather and brew on our political horizon, the weather and atmosphere for SHRM was quite the opposite.

We are lucky that the HR and Benefits industry has SHRM because it doesn’t just attract industry professionals seeking to improve themselves – but to improve others and the industry we are in.

What better example of that than a presentation by Sal Khan of the Khan Academy. Sal spoke about the humble beginnings of his career as an educator - starting off as a means to tutor his cousin online in mathematics - and growing into what’s known now as the Khan Academy. The academy video channel has millions of subscribers and his work has led to him being listed by Time as amongst the 100 most influential people in the world in 2012.

This got me thinking about our roles as HR leaders and employee benefit advisors and what makes our industry so special. Much like Sal, we too are driven by a desire to improve the human elements of organizations across the country. At HUB International, for example, many of our employees specialize in communicating and educating employees to better understand their benefits options as the ACA continues to turn much of the benefits world, as we knew it, upside down. Flunking your math test will lead to a bad grade average. But aren’t the potential consequences for an employee flunking their benefits enrollment by selecting a bad plan choice far, far, greater? The importance of SHRM’s work, and our work as industry professionals and educators, goes on.

Another terrific (and very topical) highlight of the event was a heated ‘crossfire session’ between CNN commentator Paul Begala and Fox commentator and Daily Caller editor, Tucker Carlson, on the coming presidential election.  Perhaps inevitably, their opinions on what the answers to some of the looming health care compliance issues we face differed greatly. Whatever your opinion of our presidential candidates – and the likely winner, I’m sure you’ll agree that the need for cool heads and our services as educators will remain whoever wins.

I have the great honor of being a co-chairman of SHRM’s next conference in 2017 – an event that will be held here in my hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana.  As you’d expect, the Louisiana Chapter of SHRM is eager to put on a great show of charm and hospitality for everyone that can make it down here. Whatever storm clouds pass over D.C. this November, we can all look forward to a tactical refresh and regrouping of our craft in The Big Easy.

Jim Casadaban, MBA

Senior Vice President, HUB International Gulf South


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