HomeEmployee ExperienceCultureHRD Summit/Europe 2018 speaker highlights

HRD Summit/Europe 2018 speaker highlights

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We’ve just got back from this year’s HRD Summit/Europe which was held in Amsterdam on 22nd and 23rd May – and what a great couple of days it was. This year’s key themes were agility and the future of work. Full of inspiring speakers with lived experiences sharing their knowledge with their peers and revolutionising the way they manage and lead others.

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The two days were face paced and bursting with brand new innovations and content. Speakers from 43 countries joined, hoping to implement the learnings from the conference within their own working cultures.

Day one highlights

Dr. Susan David, Top 50 Thinker and keynote speaker addressed the complex subject of emotional agility within organisations and how leaders need to have a clear understanding about how emotionally agile their workforce is.

David told the audience about how her father sadly passed away when she was a teenager and how this allowed to her begin building her own level of emotional agility, having been encouraged by her teacher to write down her feelings. David said this was a rarity and wasn’t usually encouraged to open up about her feelings. She then explored this idea within the workplace, when you are emotional about something it’s almost like people don’t have the time to deal with the issue, both the person going through the issue and those around them. David urges this notion to change.

“There is no innovation without the discomfort for potential failure.” – Dr. Susan David

Following David, Erwin van Lambaart, CEO, Holland Casino shared the transformational journey that Holland Casino has been on and how managing thousands of people through colossal cultural change comes with unpredictable challenges, these challenges included 1000 redundancies, strikes and a fire that broke out in one of the casinos.

Lambaart shared his leadership approach, he always keeps in mind the need to:

– Understand and feel
– Build and rebuild
– Encourage continuous change

Tobias Kodel, Head of Leadership 2020, Daimler

In this highly engaged session, Kodel spoke about the revolution in leadership happening at Daimler with the use of high engagement and embracing the digital age.

CoLab Workshop: Working in an agile and collaborative way for the connected age

In this lively and interactive session, Kim Atherton, Chief People Officer, Ovo Energy and Perry Timms of PTHR explained how agile working needn’t be intimidating, they showcase ways in which all companies could adapt to this new way of working.

Highlights from HRD Summit/Europe 2018

To round off the day we heard from the Executive Panel: Curators of the New Business Landscape – The Future of Work.


The panel consisted of Kim Atherton, Chief People Officer, Ovo Energy; Agnes Jongkind, Global Vice President Human Resources, Deutsche Telekom AG; Nico Orie, Vice President HR Strategy and Operations, Coca-Cola European Partners; Rosa Lee, SVP, Global Human Resource Management, Bosch and Wanda Hope, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Johnson & Johnson.

In the final session today they pinpointed the trends that are set to disrupt and impact the business landscape as well as discuss ever-changing world economy and what this means for the future of work, some fascinating insights came out of this session including Wanda Hope sharing the need to diversify in all companies, she said: “Don’t only think internally, we need a workforce that reflects our markets. This is a value we should all share.”

Kim Artherton agreed, saying: “We need an entire range of people making up our workforces. One of the most important skills for the future is complicated decision making, which requires experience and life skills – diversify your workforce.”

Day two highlights

Building an Inclusive Culture – a focus on belonging: Wanda Hope, Chief Diversity Officer, Johnson & Johnson

Wanda Hope’s keynote speech inspired the audience as she spoke about her mother who protested for American civil rights in the 1960s. She explained: “These values have shaped who I am today – the fight for equality and fairness is just as important today.”

Johnson & Johnson surveyed 7000 employees worldwide to form a co-created diversity and inclusion plan, ensuring that it included everyone’s vision.

Hope said: “Johnson & Johnson is over 130 years old, and half of the first 15 employees were women – we’ve always been diverse.”

Keynote speaker – The Future of Work: Cyrus Akrami, Head of Marketing Development, Workplace @ Facebook

During an exclusive interview with Akrami, he told HRD Connect that one of the biggest challenges facing today’s business leaders is managing those who are remote or mobile, and the need to educate everyone about what the future of work looks like. We know technical advances are ever growing and changing but Akrami urged how people are the fundamental part of any organisation.

“Be passionate about your people, the people in your company are going to be the next leaders and future CEOs. The people mean everything. Bolster communication and understand how to solve relevant problems. The future of work isn’t built on technology, it’s built on people”

Drive a truly strategic and impactful people strategy: Anouska Bold, Global Head of HR Strategy, Philips

Bold opened her talk with the statement, ‘let’s all be curious’, because curiosity can only lead to learning, growth and change.

Bold spoke about Philip’s, who classify as a health technology company intend to improve the lives of 3 billion people by 2025, and will do so through technology and responsible leadership.

As a general rule when looking at strategy and understanding the business needs, Bold explained: “Start with the ‘why’ at the core of everything you do. Then explore the ‘how’ and then arrive at the ‘what’ – this should always be the order.”

Neuroscience-informed culture as an enabler of digital transformation: Rebecca Winter, HR Director, Microsoft

In this neuroscience-based talk, Winter spoke about the need to make rational and well thought out decisions. Sharing a fun fact about Mark Zuckerberg, she said: “Mark Zuckerberg wears a grey t-shirt most days and has multiple versions of them. He does this to save decision making, ensuring these small decisions don’t clutter his mind.”

She then discussed the dopamine and cortisol levels within our brains. The dopamine exerting happy emotions, and the cortisol stressed and unhappy emotions. At Microsoft they associate dopamine with a ‘toward state of mind’ and cortisol an ‘away state of mind’, she asked business leaders to question whether their leadership strategies trigger the ‘toward’ or ‘away’ state of mind among employees.

“We need both intuitive and insightful leadership. Leaders who do both are making better-informed decisions.” – Rebecca Winter

We can’t wait for next year already! 

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