Don’t give up and keep trying until you succeed

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The Society for Human Resource Management held its 65th Annual Conference & Exposition at the McCormack Place Convention Centre in Chicago from June 16 to 19.

The convention centre, which is the largest in the Unites States and one of the largest in the world, is located on the shores of Lake Michigan and the upper floors provide a spectacular view of the lake.

The impressive array of keynote speakers included Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Secretary of State and former US Senator from New York. Mark Kelly, former US astronaut, accompanied by his wife Gabby Giffords, former US Congress-woman and the victim of an assassination attempt in 2011 was also a keynote speaker.

The conference included a show by ‘American Idol’ Season One winner and world famous pop star Kelly Clarkson who entertained a capacity audience of happy conference attendees.

I’ve been attending conferences for many years around the globe but this is the largest I’ve been to so far. In all, there were 20,000 people in attendance. This figure included 1,000 volunteers, 700 exhibitors, more than 280 speakers and 15,000 attendees. They were 1,224 attendees from 78 countries outside the United States including 14 from Bermuda. The Caymans had 23, while there were 26 from the UK and 195 from Canada. The Caribbean was well represented with participants from Anguilla, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St Kitts & Nevis, The British Virgin Islands and Trinidad and Tobago. There may be more attendees from the Caribbean next year as the conference will be held in Orlando, Florida, a more convenient location for them. The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) were well represented as were the countries of the European Union. Some of the other countries represented were as diverse as Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan and Korea.

As there were over 200 concurrent sessions for participants to attend the conference organisers helped attendees select from this vast array of choices by breaking the sessions into the following six tracks: Business Management and Strategy, Compensation and Benefits, Employment Law and Legislation, International HR, Talent Management and Personal and Leadership Development. These tracks were further broken down into the following nine primary human resource competencies: Human Resource Technical Expertise and Practice, Relationship Management, Consultation, Organisational Leadership and Navigation, Communication, Global and Cultural Effectiveness, Ethical Practice, Critical Evaluation and Business Acumen. Audience levels were also indicated so you could determine if the session you wished to attend was at the proper level for you. The four levels indicated were early career (0-2 years of HR experience), mid level (3-7 years), senior-level (8-14 years) and executive-level (15+ years, the top HR job or VP role in the organisation).

One of the events I attended as press was a book launch by Globoforce. The CEO, Eric Mosley, author of ‘The Crowd Sourced Performance Review’, spoke at the launch of his book and also at the conference. I hope to write a review of the book in a forthcoming issue of The Royal Gazette.

The exposition, which takes place during the annual conference, is the world’s largest marketplace and this year’s was no exception. With over 700 exhibitor booths of various sizes there were numerous products, presentations, displays and networking opportunities to satisfy the most demanding human resource professional. There were also lots of gifts, including books, distributed by the exhibitors.

Unfortunately the opening keynote by Hillary Clinton was off limits to the press. However, I was able to attend the final keynote with Mark Kelly and Gabby Giffords. You have to be really selective to ensure you get the most out of a conference like this. I attended sessions on motivation, stress, leadership, globalisation, intercultural intelligence and performance review.

Space constraints do not allow me to go into detail on the various sessions I attended but I found them, for the most part, enjoyable and useful. I was particularly impressed by the final keynote delivered by Mark Kelly with his wife Gabby by his side. She also spoke. Mark is an inspiring speaker and described his childhood in New Jersey. He covered his rise through the ranks in a most modest way. Despite obstacles he pursued his dream. Therein lies a message for all of us: don’t give up, keep trying until you succeed. His description of viewing the earth from outer space would inspire space tourist travel. Gabby, who still has difficulty walking and talking, is an inspiration of survival and the never-give-up fighting spirit is indeed commendable. She continues to receive physiotherapy and speech therapy.

Paul Loftus is an industrial/organisational psychologist, an intercultural consultant and a freelance journalist. He has been conducting both public and in-company management development seminars in Bermuda for over 20 years. He can be reached on (514) 282-9111; ploftus@colba.net; www.paulloftus.ca

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Published Jul 9, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Jul 8, 2013 at 6:21 pm)

Don’t give up and keep trying until you succeed

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