HRD Summit USDisruption in the World of Work: A Virtual Experience – Event Summary: IBM, The Financial Times and more

Disruption in the World of Work: A Virtual Experience - Event Summary: IBM, The Financial Times and more

HRD's landmark, debut virtual event featured talks, CoLabs and panel discussions with some of the brightest and best in the world of HR.

Thursday 9 April 2020 marked HRD’s first ever virtual summit – Disruption in the World of Work: A Virtual Experience. In a working world defined by disruption, it is vital that business leaders are prepared to adapt, and so we dedicated this event to the exploration of this very principle, bringing our digital community together for half a day of learning, discussion and reflection.

More specifically, our primary focus was how leaders can leverage today’s technologies to respond smartly and efficiently to the ever-changing business landscape. Helping us to deliver this in a professional, engaging manner were a hand-picked selection of top industry professionals, sharing their experience and expertise to offer invaluable guidance.

With over 900 HR professionals from around the world registered and present, the stage was set for this industry-first, landmark event to commence.

Kicking things off in style was Ben Eubanks, Principal Analyst, Lighthouse research, taking centre stage and delivering a compelling and engaging session. Entitled Training for Adaptability: The Human Skills AI Can’t Automate, this session focused on how leaders can both leverage AI technologies and utilize the human qualities of workers in order to get the best of both worlds.

Delivering succinct a presentation and offering various examples of research and case studies, Eubanks primarily explored the man vs machine debate, outlining how attendees can apply this to the skillset of their workforces to achieve the greatest level of efficiency possible.

“In spite of a big push in technical skills for a lot of companies, soft skills such as communication and adaptability are still important,” he said.

He went on to exemplify how AI and humans can have a symbiotic relationship in the workplace, pointing out that machines are more suited to finding errors in a thousand lines of code, whereas humans possess a higher level of emotional intelligence.

“AI is best suited for those repetitive tasks that have a high incidence of human error,” he said.

From here, we transitioned seamlessly into the day’s second session; a delegate-led panel discussion with Eubanks as the host. Here, we offered delegates the chance to pose their queries to our speakers and receive authentic, tailor-made advice.

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Forming our panel for this session was Marcy Axelrad, Principal, Wayfair and Amit Parmar, VP HR, Unysis, both offering words of wisdom and answering each query in a thorough and enthusiastic manner.

“The big challenge we are facing right now is how to keep our remote workers connected,” said Parmar, reflecting on how Unysis has felt the immediate impact of the disruption. “We’re just trying to stay human as much as possible.”

Offering her own perspective on this matter, Axelrad said: “Despite the disruption, there is no time where we have seen such innovation than right now. The collaboration is incredible, and I appreciate it every day.”

With the event’s half-way mark approaching, our next session, Leading into The Unknown: Designing for continuous Transformation, focused on the importance of leadership during these unprecedented times. Carina Cortese, Principal, SY Partners, took to the stage to lead this session with confidence and eagerness.

This session also doubled up as one of our fantastic CoLab experiences. To replicate this, delegates were automatically split into groups of five and redirected to a new video chat window. There, they would reflect on the speaker’s insights, and would have the opportunity to share these thoughts with the wider group once directed back to the original session.

But first, Cortese delivered an insightful presentation of her own thoughts on designing for continuous transformation.

“Transformation is not something you do once and then you’re done,” she said. “You have to continuously transform to keep up with new competitors, with new crises, with new change.”

“If you can build an organization fit for continuous transformation, then you can tackle any of the unknowns that we encounter as we move forward.”

Next, delegates gathered for our final session and second panel discussion of the day. Lead by Michael Hocking, Deputy Editor, HRD Connect, this session was entitled Defining the Leaders of Tomorrow; an insight into how future leaders can effectively shape the direction of work.

To provide yet more invaluable expertise, Hocking was joined by Chuck Heaton, Senior HR Consultant, Talent IQ and DeRetta Rhodes, SVP People Capital, Atlanta Braves.

“One of the key things will be organizations doing analysis on their reaction during the crisis. How effective were our communications and infrastructure?” said Heaton, reflecting on how leaders can move their organizations forward post-crisis.

Rhodes weighed in on this same issue. “One of the things that we need to do is become very proficient in agility. This really is critical in both the near-term and short-term,” she said.

Concluding, she added: “The reality is that everyone is feeling the same way. So, if you show vulnerability and transparency as a leader, it can go a really long way.”

And so, having undergone four engaging sessions and explored the full spectrum of coping with disruption in the world of work, HRD’s first ever virtual experience was a success all round.

But aside from these main events, there was plenty more on offer for delegates during the day. Most notably, we integrated two, forty-minute long Roundtable & Peer-to-Peer Networking sessions throughout the course of the day’s schedule

During these sessions, delegates were given the opportunity to participate in virtual group discussions with one another, airing out any concerns, questions and thoughts on the topic of disruption.

What’s more, we once again boasted a prestigious line-up of hosts, including HRD Thought Leader Jill Christensen, The Financial Times’ Kirsty Devine and Headstart’s Tom Price-Daniel.

hrd summit us virtual

Finally, we also incorporated a bonus Q&A session which comprised a brand new format for HRD; our first ever HRD Unchained.

Hosted once again by Michael Hocking, this session offered delegates an exclusive opportunity to ask any burning questions surrounding the topic of disruption in the world of work. Returning to the stage to help remedy these concerns was Ben Eubanks, who was also joined by Nanci Taylor, VP Enterprise Business Agility, IBM.

In the absence of co-location, we believe this virtual event provided delegates with the closest possible thing to a conventional summit experience, and a great outlet for those attempting to navigate through these unpreceded times.

Couldn’t make it this time, or just hungry for more? Fear not – we are already hard at work in hand-crafting our next HR virtual experience. Expect more details in the near future!

Subscribe to HRD Connect for daily updates on the future of work, including thought leadership, video interviews, the HRD Live Podcast and more.

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