#SHRM18 Interview with SHRM Chief Global Development Officer Nick Schacht

Nick Schacht is a highly experienced executive with more than three decades of experience in professional services, education, and corporate learning and development.  He has a history of driving product innovation, growth and profitability and he has led organizations operating worldwide.  

Nick is Chief Global Development Officer for SHRM, the world's largest HR professional society. Before joining SHRM, Nick was the founder and CEO of KnowCyber, a learning and development company focused on improving the cybersecurity-related skills of people in all types of organizations worldwide. Prior to KnowCyber, Nick was President and Chief Operating Officer for PetroSkills, a provider of training and development services to the worldwide petroleum industry.  Prior to that, he was CEO and President of Learning Tree International, a publicly traded provider of IT and management learning and development.  Nick was also the President of Global Learning Systems, a start-up focused on e-Learning and digital content.  He served in a variety of capacities at ESI International, culminating in his role as President when ESI was sold to the Institute for International Research (IIR) and then as Group President for the Americas for IIR.  He has been a Research Fellow at the Logistics Management Institute, and began his career as a U.S. Navy Supply Officer, on the headquarters staff of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program.  

Nick graduated with honors from the U.S. Naval Academy, and holds Master's degrees in Administration from the University of Maryland University College, and Information Systems Technology from The George Washington University.

While your official biography is posted above, what’s one “fun fact” about Nick Schacht that’s not on your resume?

One “fun fact” about me is that although I chose to attend the US Naval Academy instead of pursuing a degree in music performance, I’ve been fortunate enough to have performed a solo on stage at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

You have an extensive career background in learning and development. What are the new trends in this area that HR should be paying attention to?

Today’s key trends in learning and development center around continuous, lifelong learning that maps directly to competency development. Many employers now craft job profiles as an amalgam of competencies. [Competencies are a combination of knowledge, skills, and behaviors that reflect more what is “done” than what is “known”.] Individuals are placed into roles based on a “best fit” with the competency profile, and then these organizations work to close “competency gaps” that remain between an individual’s competency profile and the job profile.

Competencies evolve with changes in technology, business, competition, etc. And to advance in a career, an individual’s competencies also need to expand and advance. Lifelong learning, largely as a result of work-based learning, enables this profession.

Even further into the future, I expect we will see educational institutions adapting to this competency-based lifelong learning philosophy. Rather than broad, omnibus degrees, students will develop a competency and skill portfolio at every stage of their education. These portfolios can then be mapped to available job profiles, indicating for which jobs a student is currently qualified, or what competencies need to be developed to qualify the student for a desired position.

As Chief Global Development Officer, the SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition is one of your most significant responsibilities and this will be your first official SHRM annual conference as a senior leader for SHRM.  How is your perspective on this conference different, now that you are looking at it from the inside, out?

For me, the key difference in perspective is the amount of collaboration that is absolutely essential to holding a successful Annual Conference and Exposition. Virtually every organization inside SHRM contributes to the event – and without those contributions, as well as the contributions of our local chapters and hundreds of volunteers, we could not hope to be successful. Of course, this collaboration must be ongoing throughout the year; although our Annual Conference and Exposition takes place during a short few days in June, the planning, preparations and work required for execution require every day in the year – as an example, the earliest planning for this year’s event in Chicago began back in 2011.

What impresses you most about the work that your Meetings and Conferences team does to produce a SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition?

What impresses me most about my Meetings and Conferences team is the way they make the almost impossible look easy. They handle myriad details involving the flow, program, accommodations, feeding, customer service and entertainment for nearly 20,000 people. They plan the event at incredible levels of detail – always looking for what might go wrong (and how that can be prevented), and how to learn from previous events. The team’s goal is that each event should be better than the last – and they’ve set a pretty high bar for themselves!

Why is the SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition so important for HR’s professional development and for the development of the HR competencies that will meet the emerging needs of organizations?

The SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition is the world’s largest professional development event for the HR profession. At this event, attendees can find resources, ideas and information on everything from required compliance processes to cutting-edge innovations from the profession’s thought-leaders. Perhaps most important to many attendees is the opportunity to network with their peers – to learn directly from the experiences of others, and to reinforce that although every person’s challenges are unique, nobody is alone in the HR world.

It’s exciting that SHRM18 will have 47 different international delegations attending this year. Why is this diverse, global attendance so important for the conference and for HR.

Well, it’s going to be even more than that – it will be at least 50, and we’re still seeing new delegations registering to attend the event every week. What’s unique this year is that we are also hosting the World Congress of the World Federation of People Management Associations. This is a biennial event which rotates its location around the world. So we are playing host not only to the SHRM international delegations but also to the leaders of HR professional associations from around the globe. We expect to have close to 2,000 international delegates attending the WFPMA event and SHRM’s Annual Conference. Their participation reinforces our understanding that HR is truly a global profession that requires a global perspective.

What are you most looking forward to at #SHRM18?

Of course, I’m looking forward to our exceptional keynote speakers, and the incredible combined wisdom of all our session presenters. I’m also looking forward to seeing in action some of the innovations we’ve made in how we’re managing the conference. But most of all, I’m looking forward to connecting with our members, and the participants in SHRM18. Every chance I have to interact with them, I learn more about the “on-the-ground” challenges faced by our profession, and I come away with ideas of more things SHRM can do to assist them.

What are your favorite things to do while visiting Chicago and what recommendations can you share with SHRM18 attendees?

Well, definitely attend a Cubs or White Sox game (both teams are in town in and around SHRM 18). Get some real Chicago deep dish pizza or enjoy Chicago’s other world-class dining options. But I’m not a Chicago native, so I’d recommend you listen to what these other SHRM staff members have to say – they know Chicago way better than I do!



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