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SHR Symposium 2023: Navigating the Future of HR, Connecting with Alumni, and Finding My Voice

By Katie Caffrey

October 23, 2023

Katie Caffrey

There’s a warm welcoming energy in the air when walking into a room full of human resources professionals. The SHR Symposium on October 6th was no exception. Our cohort of MBA students specializing in strategic human resources management had been eagerly counting down the days to this event for months. The symposium was a chance to connect with industry professionals, alumni, faculty, staff, and fellow students.

Unfortunately, the day before the symposium, I had lost my voice due to illness. Yet during the symposium, while I struggled to find my external voice, my internal monologue was stronger than ever. I was inspired by the future workforce trends that were discussed, including hybrid flexibility, sustainable performance post-pandemic, and the emergence of people experience departments.

With a focus on thriving in today’s volatile and complex workplace, the symposium was a gateway to understanding and shaping the HR landscape of the future. Our first speaker, Microsoft Senior HR Consultant Donovan Malloy, kicked off the day with an engaging presentation that detailed predicted HR trends over the next decade. One trend that stood out to me was quiet hiring, a term I had not heard before. Quiet hiring refers to constrained budgets that cause employers to saddle current employees with additional responsibilities rather than hiring additional talent. In this current economy, relatively scarce job opportunities coupled with the erosion of workforce social skills, particularly for Gen Z employees, can make it difficult for emerging professionals to establish their career paths. I believe the SHR Center and Wisconsin School of Business prepare students well for entering the workforce. Events like the SHR symposium encourage students to move outside of our comfort zones while networking with and learning from alumni who have established successful careers post-graduation.

Human resources professionals are naturally geared towards supporting others, which made for engaging networking conversations throughout the day. Symposium attendees from all different industries connected over our shared passion for talent management, employee engagement, DEI, and more. I was very excited to reconnect in-person with my mentor, Jordanna Kammerud, who is now the CHRO of Corning. She led an interactive and thought-provoking presentation about the ways in which organizational culture is the heart of business strategy. I appreciated the seamless integration of business strategy with talent strategy.

There were many compelling sessions throughout the day. One of the highlights of the day for me was the “I Wasn’t Expecting That” panel featuring SHR MBA alumni Marcus Alston, Rebekah Reese, and Berenice Rodriguez. What I found inspiring was the way each alum was willing to share their authentic career journeys including the good and the bad. It was reassuring to hear that while these alumni experienced some unexpected twists and turns in their career paths, their educational foundation from the Wisconsin School of Business had prepared them well to navigate these challenges successfully.

Overall, the Symposium was an invaluable opportunity for professional growth and networking. Throughout the event, we gained fresh insights into the dynamic field of HR, while engaging with industry experts and learning about rising trends, which provided creative fuel and motivation for the academic year ahead. Personally, I found that the insights gained from the symposium provided me with guideposts that will serve me well as an HR professional. My recommendation to people considering the symposium in the future would be to seize the opportunity to gain the same type of valuable insights I did. I’m already looking forward to attending next year’s symposium as an alumna!