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HR’s license to drive innovation

Earlier this week, I had the privilege to attend the HRO Today Forum and compete in (and win) the iTalent Competition. The forum is much more than just the competition; it’s a gathering of the best talent leaders in North America for knowledge sharing, recognition and action. The attendees of the HRO Today Forum are often the keynote speakers at other conferences, which means the speakers at this event were phenomenal. You all welcomed me in conversations with open arms and minds. We talked, shared, debated and engaged on many levels.

This year’s theme, “Driving Corporate Strategy,” truly came through from day one. A focus on a total talent strategy resonated with the audience as our workforce is no longer simply full time employees (FTE) with clear demographic lines. Today about 50% of the workforce is contingent, coming in to our organizations via other channels and 34% of the overall US workforce are millennials.

Day 1

The candidate experience

Tracey Richardson and Jay Stoelting of Agile-1 led us through improving the candidate experience by expanding career options:

  • Consider the message you are sending to your total potential applicant pool when your career page is screaming we only care about you if you are a FTE.
  • Simply by unifying your career site to highlight every opportunity a candidate has to join your organization will improve your brand, the impression you make on non-traditional candidates and increase your conversion from contingent to FTE employee status.


Craig Fisher of CA technologies and Allegis Global solutions met happily with murmurs of reluctance as he presented us with the growing role that AI is playing in HR via bots, candidate matching algorithms, and improving search capabilities. He reminded us that these technologies should be used for what they are good at: one such benefit is immediate 24/7 response time to applicants asking questions about their application status.

Achieving total talent through tech

Closing out the day a panel of solutions providers and CHRO Laurie Dalton of gategroup spoke to closing the gap using technology to make total talent a reality. We looked critically at where the gaps still are begging for a solution and where technology is already addressing some of the challenges.

My thinking here is that providers and companies both have a role to play here. I believe that data is currency—currency that you can and should spend. No matter how many disparate systems you employ, companies need to truly own their data. Aggregate it, look at it, focus on it’s integrity. Know what you have, know what you don’t have. Use this knowledge to your advantage, startups and solutions providers have a major role to play in aggregating and leveraging data to bring insights directly to your fingertips as you need it.

There will never be a single platform to solve all of your needs, not if you want each solution to be innovative, specialized and the best at what they do. Companies that do this well, like Textio, will change the way you think about the power of your data. You’ll stop receiving and immediately deleting the reports that flood your inbox from all of your providers and rely on the real time insights that inform your decisions as you make them.

Day 2

Congrats to Francine Katsoudas!

The winners of the CHRO of the Year awards from last night’s gala were announced during the opening remarks, and with great pleasure I’d like to congratulate Francine Katsoudas, SVP Chief People Officer at Cisco for winning the Lifetime achievement award! I’m very familiar with Francine’s team since Cisco is a Textio subscriber. It’s such a pleasure to work with everyone at Cisco; the impact Francine has on the organization is immeasurable.

Check out @HROToday’s Twitter feed to find out all the winners in a number of different categories.

There were also so many wonderful sessions I couldn’t possibly cover them all here but I wanted to highlight some of my favorites:

Engaging with purpose

Shannon Schuyler, Chief Purpose Officer at PwC captivated the audience with her talk on engaging with a purpose. I hung on her every word. No longer can we retain our employees if they are not connected with their individual purpose, the purpose of the company and at the intersection of these two: the purpose of their role; this purpose needs to connect the world and their community.

The main take away from the remaining day 2 sessions was the importance of aligning our HR initiatives in real time with the business strategy. The business cannot simply set a strategy that has a fall out number of employees to hire without understanding the state of their people. Plans that used to last for 3–5 years are now updated yearly, that means we need our Talent leaders in the strategy conversation.

Awards lunch and iTalent Competition

We celebrated the leading talent in the room at the awards luncheon for the Talent Acquisition Leader of the Year awards, the videos of each of these finalists nominations were moving and inspiring. I was happy to hear that another one of Cisco’s team won an award: Jill Larsen, SVP Talent Acquisition, People Planning, and Services.

After a huge Textio win at the iTalent competition, the evening ended with the HRO Today Magazine party. And quite the party it was, Chicago’s improve comedy troupe Second City does not disappoint. If you are ever in town I highly recommend going to a show.

Day 3

With the whirlwind of the past few day’s and the loss of my voice, the third day was a great listening day for me. The predictive analytics session on optimizing nurse staffing was eye opening. The shortage of nurses is a well know problem and the technology that is being used to source the needs for our healthcare before we know we need them is impressive.

Among other topics, one that particularly resonated with me was the need to target existing employees with employer branding efforts. We do it every day at Textio ensuring everyone not only knows our brand but represents it, as we grow this internal branding has been particularly beneficial for me.

Closing out the conference we recognized and celebrated the Healthcare Program of the Year Awards and eagerly reviewed the MSP Baker’s Dozen Survey Results with PeopleScout taking home the #1 spot.

I’m looking forward to working with you all in the future!

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