HomeHRD Summit EUHRD Summit Europe 2019: Day 1 – Patagonia, Uber, Erica Keswin and more

HRD Summit Europe 2019: Day 1 - Patagonia, Uber, Erica Keswin and more

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Day 1 of the HRD Summit Europe 2019 featured powerful sessions on the future of work from Patagonia, Uber, Erica Keswin, Shell, LinkedIn, Volvo and more.

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The HRD Summit Europe 2019 at the RAI Amsterdam kicked off today, with global businesses and leading HR gurus coming together to discuss the biggest challenges facing HR to crowds of people leaders from across the world.

An audience of 600 global HR professionals descended upon the RAI for day one’s series of exclusive keynote sessions, lightning talks, Match Meetings and more.

“At HRD, we understand that in this period of unprecedented change , that there is a unique opportunity for HR to influence the future of work”, said Rachel Montgomery-Young, Portfolio Director, HRD, welcoming attendees to the main auditorium on Wednesday morning, before HRD Summit Chair, Mark Ellis, roused the audience with a stirring opening address.

“We all work with people, and we know that people are erratic, but there are really endless possibilities, wonderful opportunities and amazing things we can achieve at people-focused events like this”, said HRD Summit Europe Chair Mark Ellis.

The first keynote session of the day was delivered by Erica Keswin, bestselling author of ‘Bring Your Human to Work’ and founder of ‘The Spaghetti Project’.

“I don’t think there has ever been a better time to be in the HR function”, said Erica at the beginning of a unique session, which focused on the importance of allowing space for real human interaction in the workplace, and on finding the “sweet spot” between tech and human connection in the workplace. Erica showed the audience stunning statistics into the impact of tech in our professional and personal lives – such as the unnerving fact that we will all spend 5 years on social media between the ages of 13 to 79.

But the tone of Erica’s keynote session was not negative – it was a call to action for HR leaders to do more to empower their people to strengthen real human interactions for business success.

“When we think of all the trends taking over the world, from AI to Gen Z, and the fact that we have companies with four or five generations under one roof, the impact that the people in this room can have in our organisations is endless.”

Erica gave the HRD Summit Europe audience a powerful demonstration of why the human aspect of workplace interaction is essential, with a healthy dose of tech thrown in, which had the audience in fits of laughter, as well as rapturous applause.

Erica Keswin’s opening presentation was followed by a unique keynote session delivered by Evelyn Doyle, HR Director EMEA, Patagonia, on the conscious organisation, and how Patagonia has embodied their core values of environmental and social consciousness in every aspect of their business.

Crucially, Evelyn demonstrated how Patagonia empower their people enable to embody these values by allowing them to be their true selves.

“Patagonia has been a real inspiration for me, because it embraces the blend of self at work”, Evelyn said. “It has a culture of bringing your whole self to work … many businesses work on the assumption that there’s a ‘you’ at work and a ‘you’ outside of work – Patagonia looks at this differently by saying ‘everyone can come to work'”.

Elsewhere at the Summit, Anouk Geertsma, HR Director EMEA, Uber, delivered a session on Uber’s journey of cultural transformation to a completely packed audience – with chairs having to be materialized from thin air to accommodate the crowd.

Anouk discussed the challenges she faced in transforming Uber’s culture, and the great positivity she has found in creating those tangible impacts in their organisation.

“I remember, one day I came into the office a colleague said to me, “Wow, it’s fantastic that you’re a new leader in the business and you’re a woman and a parent!” As great as it was to get that feedback, it meant that things weren’t great in terms of diversity in the organisation.”

“We were way too focused on business growth, at all costs, without thinking about the meaning of all of the people we interact with, both inside and outside of our workforce.”

Anouk revealed how Uber identified and treated the problems in their organisation “from the bottom up”, retraining their managers in the people skills needed to be great leaders, and transforming their culture at the level of their workforce.

In addition to insights on cultural transformation and consciousness in organisations, there was also a packed session on ‘Driving the Strategic Vision’ in HR using data and analytics from Esther Bongenaar, VP HR Data and Analytics, Royal Dutch Shell.

“I often get asked why we spend so much time in HR analytics”, Esther told another packed session, “My answer is the same reason we spend time in HR in the first place. That is, HR drives business value.

The session focused on Shell’s use of HR analytics to power people decisions to strengthen business success, and featured Lei Pan, Manager HR Analytics, Shell.

Day 1 closed with a huge keynote session on ‘Cultivating a D&I Mindset’, featuring Eric Way, Director of Diversity & Inclusion, Volvo, Janine Herman, HR Director, Diageo, Lisa Finnegan, Senior Director HR, Linkedin and Willemijn de Nooij, Global HR Director Refreshment, Unilever.

The session was an insightful discussion from different perspectives on making D&I a normal part of each employee’s everyday life, by taking a top-down and bottom-up approach.

“No matter where you are at in your journey, it is about ensuring your actions link in to your vision”, Janine Herman, Diageo, said.

“Have role models, have employees who are prepared to tell their stories – it’s incredibly powerful.”

“It’s not about soft skills – it’s about human skills”, said Lisa Finnegan, LinkedIn, “We as HR leaders have the hardest skills. We have to find a way to make everyone work together and feel included.”

Following closing remarks from Mark Ellis, attendees flocked to a drinks reception hosted by LinkedIn to relax, network, and enthuse about the key takeaways of Day 1, before getting prepared to return for Day 2 of the HRD Summit Europe 2019.


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