HRINZ HR Conference 2012 Student Ambassador Highlights – Paru Krishna
What an experience! I would never have imagined that as a student aspiring to make it into the human resources profession that I would receive such an amazing three days to meet some of the most talented people that New Zealand holds in its HR field. I think I can speak on behalf of the other student ambassadors when I say that we were welcomed and faced with an unbelievable amount of warmth by all the delegates and organisers present at the conference.
Noted professionals like Ravi Kalpage were especially welcoming to the students and it was great to be faced with such enthusiasm towards what we study and our plans for the future. As a student I was eager to learn a lot from this conference, but was apprehensive about how I should or could contribute to discussions that were centered mainly around peoples’ real-world HR experiences. However, I found the whole conference experience to be extremely interactive and that was possibly the most important fuel to my learning process over the course of the three days. My opinions were not only valued, but also actively sought out by others. Particularly helpful was the way in which the topic of diversity was related to numerous facets of HR.
My most memorable session was the New Ear’s Resolution taken by the wonderful Taruni Falconer. Not only was the content of her presentation especially riveting to me, I loved the way she presented it by making us speak in a new language ‘Redunduncia’. Through this new language/communication exercise, we were able to understand the dynamics through which language and communication operate. Taruni made me realise that we take for granted the ease with which most of us can communicate and the sheer importance and impact that this has in human resources.
Another session that I found particularly relevant to the current New Zealand context was New to New Zealand by Angela Atkins. Coming into a new country and starting in a new job, having to learn the hard way about all the differences that exist between New Zealand and your home country, can be daunting and difficult. Discussing all the issues that arise for migrants was a real eye opener. It hit a lot closer to home when I thought about all the issues that my parents might have faced when entering their first jobs in New Zealand nearly two decades ago. It was then that I realised that perhaps small, often overlooked practices such as a buddy system can make a world of difference to a migrant as well as their family. It was with relief that I then noted that the firm I am going to enter next year is also employing a buddy system for all new graduates entering their programme. This made me understand that efforts to welcome and help orientate migrants to their new job and new country should not just be limited to a migrant context. With more and more companies developing more highly distinct and unique cultures, it is arguably becoming more important to have some form of buddy system for any new entrant into a firm, regardless of whether they are new to the country or not. An interesting discussion also ensued about whether New Zealand was a ‘collective’ or ‘individualist’ country. I was surprised to find that my discussion group was divided in two over this debate. It was interesting to listen to justifications for various arguments and to also eventually realise that our answers were completely subjective to our own experiences and upbringing.
One of the most inspirational and memorable speakers of the conference was Pete De Jager on his Change Management session. His questions of ‘Why?’, ‘What’s in it for me?’, ‘What do I do differently?’, ‘What won’t change?’, What might go wrong?’ and ‘How do we deal with chaos?’, were very relevant to the constant change that we go through on a daily basis, whether it be in universities, in organisations or in the wider context of the community. The most interesting observation made by Peter was that with change, there is always chaos and that this is something we need to embrace as it is nearly always inevitable. Instead of fighting hard to suppress chaos, we need to learn from it. I found this concept to be so simple, yet it still seems to baffle people when change results in chaos.
However, I have to say that the most precious thing I gained out of this wonderful conference experience are the new friendships that were formed. Getting to know and spend time with the other student ambassadors was a very exciting part of the conference. The six of us from all over New Zealand came together with such ease and comfort. I truly feel that my conference experience was made all the more richer because of the amazing, talented people that I was fortunate enough to get to know over the course of the HRINZ Diversity Conference, 2012.
HRINZ Student Ambassador The University of Auckland.