HRINZ Weekly Wrap-up: Conference Edition
Welcome back HRINZers! As I’m sure you’re aware, the NZ HR Conference has now been and gone for another year. It’s an exciting, exhausting, exhilarating time for the HRINZ Office Team, and this is going to be my attempt to wrap up the event in about 1000 words. This is, of course, impossible but I’ll give it a shot! My apologies to all the great speakers I won’t get to mention…
It all began on Wednesday for us as half of the team headed down to the TSB while the other half managed the meetings of the Board and Branch Presidents Advisory Group which took place. It’s the only face to face meeting of the BPAG during the year, so it’s pretty great to have them all together in the same room!
First up at the TSB was the somewhat dreaded bag packing which, with all hands on deck, we actually got through in a reasonable amount of time. This was followed by the setting up of the registration area, and then it was time for exhibitors to begin their pack-in! By about 5pm, most of the hard work had been done and it was time for the Melbourne Business School Welcome Reception followed by the President’s Dinner which is a chance for HRINZ to say thank you to those who have been significantly involved with the Conference.
Thursday morning saw the bulk of the delegates arrive and the excitement build – it was show time! Funny man Ben Hurley got it all off to a roaring start with his entrance in a Chewbacca mask and had the audience laughing in no time.
After hearing from our National President, Rachel Walker, and our CE, Chris Till, it was time to jump into the first session of the day with the fantastic Dr Ian Williamson of Melbourne Business School. I have seen Ian present before and he has always impressed. This time was certainly no different. Talking on thriving during disruption, Ian had the audience fully engaged, providing both research and case studies to share his message.
Dr Williamson is a hard act to follow, but Dr Jason Fox certainly had no trouble at all! This self-proclaimed introvert shared his unique view on motivation which matched his very unique and creative slides! Jason suggested that instead of a New Year resolution, we should all pick a word that represents what we want to achieve or how we want to live for the year. Dr Fox’s word for 2015 was ‘pirate’, and he sure was swashbuckling!
While delegates were moving in and out of sessions all day, next door the NZ HR Expo was in full swing. With 46 exhibitors, it was the biggest HR Expo ever to be held in Wellington and the venue was dressed up to be suitably ‘spacey’ by the brilliant team at Red Pebble. Two Expo games and huge array of prizes on offer ensured that the Expo was buzzing, especially during break times as hungry delegates swarmed the Strategic Pay Café and visited as many exhibitors as possible. There were a number of innovative stands this year, including the HRINZ space lab (managed by Christine and Saasha) however, the best stand award was won by H2R for their summer soft serve ice cream truck!
Day One wrapped up with the ELMO Conference Dinner, at which an exciting new partnership was announced with ELMO Talent Management Software (further details to come on this shortly). Delegates were transported to outer space and enjoyed a night of dining and dancing under the stars.
Having the morning session after ‘the night before’ could be considered a big ask, however it anyone was up to the task it was the amazing Dr Louise Mahler. If early indications are anything to go by, Louise was the standout speaker of the Conference. Not only did she have the audiences in stiches for a good portion of her session, she also managed to leave us with some real, practical tips and advice on how to use voice and body language to our best advantage. Ladies – we all know how to shake hands properly now, and men – well, you know what not to do!
Lunch time on day two saw the Expo prize-giving take place, at which a very long list of awesome prizes were given away by our generous exhibitors. HRINZ also gave away a number of prizes and a big congratulations to Shannon Horn who won a free place at the 2016 NZ HR Conference!
So with the Expo all done and dusted, exhibitors began the pack out while delegates headed into the final, much anticipated session with Sir John Kirwan. There’s honestly not much I can say really to describe how brilliant John was. Speaking on such an important topic, mental illness, he was warm, genuine, relatable, funny, honest and moving. In between the dancing (to Kiwi classic ‘How Bizzare’) and the hugging, Sir John’s message was simple and clear – depression is not a weakness, it’s an illness. Despite the difficult nature of the subject, the session was enlightening, uplifting and inspiring – the perfect way to end the Conference.
So after a brief farewell from Chris, that was it! Delegates slowly dispersed back to the corners of the country from whence they came and the event was all over for another year. As the AV crew, theming company and Expo builders began their pack out, the magic of the event disappeared and, like a dream, it was almost as if it had never happened!
Luckily for us, the event lives on in the new found knowledge of the delegates and in the connections and networks developed over the two days. There’s also a fair amount of photographic evidence of course, so be sure to head over to the HRINZ Facebook page to check out the photos. HRINZ was also sent a copy of all the photos taken in the photo booth at the dinner, however, in the spirit of ‘what goes on tour stays on tour’ I’ll be keeping those ones safe!
Tired, but fulfilled, the Office Team made their way home on Friday for a weekend of rest and recovery. Of course relief is fleeting for as soon as one event ends, planning for the next one begins. But you know what? I can’t wait! Bring on 2016!