While many people were celebrating Earth Day on April 22, we in the Strategic HR Management Center were celebrating the return to a full-house, in-person HR Summit. That thought alone gave us something to smile about in advance of the conference, yet as expected, the day held much more.
Our annual event began with Academic Director Charlie Trevor welcoming the group and providing a brief history of the Center and its staff. He surprised the group with an announcement: we hired our first full-time Center Director this month! Tanya Hubanks was greeted with a warm round of applause and gave a brief hello even though her responsibilities officially begin this summer.
The first presenter was attorney Jennifer Mirus from Boardman and Clark LLP. Jennifer has been working with employment law for years. She kept us engaged (and nearly in disbelief!) through many interesting and astonishing stories about different experiences with harassment law, disability law, and arrest and conviction record discrimination. Her talk resonated with implications for the HR professionals in the room.
Tom O’Rourke (’85), a Principal in Management Consulting from RSM US LLP, was our second speaker. His humor-punctuated session focused on leading practices in talent attraction, onboarding, and retention. Some takeaways based on Tom’s analysis of the field and his cutting-edge data collection from his consulting work: flexibility is the new sign-on bonus, move milestone celebrations from 1 year to 90 days, and formally say “thank you.”
Our last session addressed how world and business trends are shaping the work of human resources. Jordana Kammerud (’00), EVP and CHRO of Strategy and Transformation at Claire’s Stores, Inc., energetically led us through trends as recent as the Russia/Ukraine invasion. Jordana drew on our communal expertise by having attendees work in groups to grapple with an engaging case study that tied together concepts from her talk.
After the conference, alumni of the MS-Industrial Relations program and the SHR MBA program gathered with current students and staff of the Strategic HR Management Center for a luncheon. Silly activities and shenanigans created by our first-year students made for easy conversations and a lot of laughter.
Thanks to our engaged participants, the return to an in-person conference was a success by any measure… especially the smiles.
Linda Barrett is the Assistant Director of the Strategic HR Management Center.