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SHRM 2012 Preview : 20 Must see Sessions (Who, What, When & Why)

SHRM National is arguably the largest gathering of Human Resource professionals in the world. An annual event organised by the Society for Human Resource Management, over 13,000 people are expected to descent on Atlanta, Georgia this weekend in advance of the opening session today, Sunday 24th June.

I was asked to cover the event as part of the official blog squad by my good friend Geoff Webb of SocialHR in Canada and I am thrilled to be here. The number of sessions that are running over the coming 4 days is overwhelming, but here are the top 20 sessions that I want to get to. Unfortunately I’m not going to be able to see them all as many of the best sessions clash, such is the diversity and choice on offer. So, in chronological order, here’s the sessions that I really want to see:


Best Sessions to Attend at SHRM 2012

Who: Condoleeza Rice, former US Secretary of State

Talking about: “Opening Session, Sunday”

Time: Sunday 2:30pm-4pm

Why? I don’t like her politics, don’t think she was a great Secretary of State but heck, it’s Condoleeza Rice, why wouldn’t you go see her? Seriously though, the woman is an uber-genius who oozes academic credentials and has written several books on world history and events. What she’s doing at a HR conference, I haven’t the faintest idea. Guess she was just available!


Jennifer McClure SHRM 2012Who: Jennifer McClure

Talking About: “Mega Session: From HR Leader to Business leader: Seven Strategies to achieve Maximum Impact in your organisation”

Time: Monday 7am-8:15am

Why:  I first met Jennifer at truManchester nearly 2 years ago, back before Social Talent even existed and she blew me away. With so many pretenders trying to talk about social media in HR & Recruiters, Jen shines as someone who really knows what she is talking about, always passionate and always insightful. Set your alarm clocks and get in early. Shame on SHRM for scheduling her session at such an unsociable hour and my commiserations to the other great speakers who have to go up against her (and there are many; 7am Monday is probably the busiest and best time slot of the week!).

Follow: @JenniferMcClure

Talent Anarcy Jason and JoeWho: Joe Gerstandt & Jason Lauritsen, Talent Anarchy

What: “Strategic Relationship Management: The Breakthrough HR Compentency”

When: Monday 7am -8:15am

Why: Joe and Jason kick ass, it’s as simple that. Any pair of presenters who encourage you to “Fly your Freak Flag” deserve our attention. I met Jason at truLondon in February and spent several hours drinking beer and waxing lyrical with him on a whole variety of recruitment issues from assessment to retention and he is a very intelligent guy who seriously knows his stuff. I have yet to see Jason & Joe present formerly but I’m really looking forward to it having heard so many great things from my friends and fellow bloggers in the industry. Bill Boorman now brings their book “Social Gravity” with him everywhere he goes and describes it as his “bible”. Can’t say more than that really.

Follow: @TalentAnarchy

Karen Kane Adecco SHRM 2012Who: Kathy Kane, SVP, Talent Mangement, Adecco North America

What: “Workforce Planning: Transitioning Today’s Needs to Tomorrow’s Must Haves”

When: Monday 7am-8:15am

Why: 2 reasons: the topic and the speaker. Workforce planning effects everyone, especially a recruiter like myself. Understanding the skills that we will need and being able to develop strategies to transfer knowledge between today’s workforce and the workforce of tomorrow are essential topics. Kathy is well positioned to speak on both having held senior HR roles with Motorola and Ikea before joining Adecco as Senior VP of Talent Management in late 2010. Definitely a session for the head.

Follow: LinkedIn

malcolm gladwell shrm 2012Who: Malcolm Gladwell, Author, contributor to New Yorker Magazine

What: Surprise topic, to be chosen by the attendees in advance!

When: Monday, 8:30am-9:45am

Why: The man is a genius.  Have you not read any of his books yet? Shame on you. The first Gladwell book that I ever read was “Blink” which was given to me by a good friend of mine who named her company after the book! His other books such as Outliers and The Tipping Point have re-defined how marketeers think about marketing psychology and Gladwell continues to defy conventions with his regular contributions to the New Yorker magazine.  Gladwell is the celebrity draw of the event, nobody can afford to miss this!

Follow: @Malcgladwell

Carrie Corbin SHRM 2012Who: Carrie Corbin, Associate Director of Talent Attraction, AT&T

What: “Talent Acquisition is about Great SEO”

When: Monday 10:45-12:00

Why: I had the pleasure of meeting Carrie for the first time yesterday but to be honest, her reputation had long since proceeded her across the Atlantic. When I’m training recruiters on how best to develop practical talent attraction strategies I regularly quote examples of how Carrie and the team at AT&T do it. I’m not only looking forward to hearing the story in person, I love the topic. In a world of social media too many people neglect good old fashioned search engine optimisation and I’m excited to hear what Carrie has to say on the subject. She will be joined by Nancy Holland, VP, Direct Employers Association whom I know nothing about but in such good company, I can only assume that Nancy also knows what she is talking about!

Follow: @thealphafemme

gerry_crispin shrm 2012Who: Gerry Crispin, Chief Navigator, Career XRoads

What: “Candidate as Customer: Myth, Malarky or Mission?”

When: Monday 10:45am-12:00pm

Why: Gerry is a legend in our industry; find me anyone who does not respect this man’s opinion! He knows everyone, has seen many pretenders come and go and he just speaks really well, full of intelligence and insight. His research has been nothing short of groundbreaking and Gerry sees the world as a planet of many cultures, business types and ideas (heck, he has traveled to most of it!). I’m thrilled to see someone represent the candidate at National this year and no better guy to tackle the issue. We chatted briefly yesterday and in that 30 mins I was stunned by Gerry’s stories of SHRM Nationals past including a fascinating story of his first event in 1996 when he presented on “HR & The Internet” where only 10% of his audience at that time had ever seen a website! Wow, talk about a guy who is always on the cusp!

Follow: @GerryCrispin

Kevin Dooley Deutsche Bank SHRM 2012Who: Kevin Dooley, Global Head of People Engagement, Deutsche Bank

What: “Brand & Behaviour = EVP: A Global Perspective on Recoding your Organisation’s Employee Value Proposition”

When: Monday 10:45am-12:00pm

Why: I’d never heard of Kevin before this week but I’m blaming myself for that. Kevin has worked his way up through the ranks of the HR team in Deutsche Bank over the last 13 years and now heads their People Engagement team globally, making him the guardian of the bank’s Employee Value Proposition. It ain’t easy to do this in banking environment, let alone a German owned bank! I’m looking forward to hearing what Kevin has to say on the subject.

Follow: @kdooley85

Scott Milligan Disney

This is not Scott, but when I googled his name, this guy popped up so here he is for all the ladies at SHRM12 today!

Who: Scott Milligan, Business Program Consultant, Disney

What: “Mega Session: Disney’s approach to Selection, Training & Engagement”

When: Monday 10:45am-12pm

Why:  It’s Disney baby! Seriously though, Disney rock when it comes to talent attraction and we featured them a few months ago in our Top 5 Facebook Timeline Images & Top 5 YouTube Career Channel posts. The immensely talented team at Disney are our heros when it comes to style and imagination in social engagement so I’m very excited to hear what Scott has to say on the subject. That and my three and a half year old son simply loves their movies!

Follow: LinkedIn

Who: Ignacio Herrero, Global Head of HR Business Excellence, Nestlé

What: “The Nestlé Global Talent Management Experience”

When: Monday 2pm-3:15pm

Ignacio Herrero Nestle

Why: I know very little about our friend Ignacio except that he has risen through the ranks of Nestlé having joined the multinational food conglomerate in Brazil before relocating to their head office in Geneva. I do know that the company is one of the largest consumer food brands in the world and that alone make me want to hear what Ignacio as to say about talent management. The “real” stories of employers vs the theories of practitioners are what this conference is all about to me and Ignacio’s session is going to particularly look at emerging markets and the challenges and opportunities that such markets present to employers when it comes to talent. Oh, and Nestlé make some seriously good chocolate bars!

Follow: @igfherrero

Ryan Estis SHRM 2012Who: Ryan Estis, Chief Experience Office, self-employed

What: “Mega Session: The Social Shift”

When: Monday 4pm-5:15pm

Why:  I’ve never met Ryan nor seen him speak but I believe both are a must. His reputation as one of the most inspirational and motivating speakers on the HR & Recruitment circuit is legendary and it doesn’t come from nothing. Ryan previously worked as Chief Strategy Office for global ad agency, McCann Erickson and his work with the employer brand proposition of the Mayo Clinic, AT&T and Microsoft changed the way recruitment marketing practitioners approach “the real” employer brand. Should be a roller-coaster of tears, emotion and engagement!

Follow: @RyanEstis


Jessica Merrell SHRM 2012Who: Jessica Miller-Merrell, Blogging4Jobs

What: “How Social Media Changes HR”

When: Tuesday 10:45am-12:00pm

Why? Now a firm favorite at SHRM events, Jessica is arguably the most Strategic thinker in HR in North America and thankfully she’s a heck of a nice person as well!  She lives and breathes this industry and works with some of the largest players in the market, helping to execute recruitment and HR initiatives that most of us can only dream of getting involved with. The title of her session this year makes this a must-see session for everyone attending SHRM National this year. No excuses, get there.

Follow: @blogging4jobs

Lara Tiam Intel SHRM 2012Who: Lara Tiam, HR Director Greater China, Intel

What: “Effective HR Practices in China”

When: Tuesday 10:45am- 12pm

Why: Again, I’d never heard of Lara before today but she is arguably one of the most senior HR execs speaking at National this week with responsibility for Intel’s HR functions across China, Japan and the Asia Pacific region. With her leadership, Intel China was ranked #1 or #2 in Employee Value Brand Proposition, a survey conducted by China HR Executive Board for the last 3 years. With all eyes on China at the moment, I’m looking forward to hearing Lara’s insights into the market.

Follow: LinkedIn

Matt Kaiser Ericsson SHRM 2012Who: Matt Kaiser, Recruitment Strategy Manager, Ericsson Australia

What: “Social Media: the Reinvention of Recruitment”

When: Tuesday 2:15-3:30pm

Why: Matt is a native Californian who recently moved to Melbourne, Australia where he now heads up Recruitment Strategy for Ericsson in Australia and New Zealand. Having spent a number of years working with NAS in California advising clients on talent acquisition strategy and employer branding, Matt is now working in-house, putting his money where his mouth is, so to speak! I love Social Media so I’m hoping he can inspire and enlighten in his session on Tuesday.

Follow: @mattkaisersd

Jason Lauritsen Talent AnarchyWho: Jason Lauritsen, Talent Anarchy

What: “Power and Politics in the Organization: Understanding the Game”

When: Tuesday 2:15pm-3:30pm

Why: I’ve already praised Jason and Joe earlier but just in case I don’t get to see their Monday session, I’m looking forward to Jason’s solo session on Tuesday where he discusses how HR professionals can harness politics to make the difference between effectiveness and irrelevance. No better buachaill (as they say back in Ireland!).

Follow: @JasonLauritsen

Lindsay Stanton SHRM 2012Who: Lindsay Stanton, Chief Content Officer, JSTN

What: “Convergence of Video, Mobile and Social Media in Recruiting & Employer Branding”

When: Tuesday 4pm-5:15pm

Why: Few people get video in recruitment like Lindsay gets it. Her company, JSTN, were one of the pioneers in the use of video in the recruitment sector and Lindsay never fails to dazzle audiences with her research, case studies and client testimonials to demonstrate how other organisations can leverage these technologies. She’s also apparently one of the sweetest women in the industry!

Follow: @myjstn


Who: Russell Kronenburg, General Manager HR, Jemena, Australia

What: “Go Glocal – Understanding and Responding to Global and Local Employee Value Propositions”

When: Wednesday 10am-11:15am

Why: Never heard of him and never heard of his company (shame on me!) but what a great title for a session! I’m a huge fan of internationalisation and love hearing great speakers in HR & Recruitment talk from a global perspective. Our second Melbourne, Australia resident on the list, Russell is going to be talking about how to build a global employer brand citing global research on employee brand value propositions and providing examples to show how other companies have implemented “glocal” policies. Should be fun!

Follow: @russkronenburg

Lance Jensen Richards, Kelly Services, SHRM 2012Who: Lance J. Richards, VP Innovation, Kelly Services

What: “Talentnomics: Nine Trends HR Must Get Right”

When:  Wednesday 10am-11:15am, Tuesday 10:45-12:00

Why: I’ve never met Lance but my good friend Zachary Misko, VP of Kelly OCG (and a really down to earth and smart guy when it comes to the application of social media and technology in the recruitment mix) raves about Lance and his “Talentnomics” concepts. On faith, I am trusting Zachary’s recommendation and will be absorbing the nine trends that Lance recommends we all get right in a post (or is that current) recession world. Lance previously headed up Kelly Services’ Global HR Consulting Practice so I am thinking that he knows his stuff!

Follow: @LanceJRichards

Steve Boese Oracle SHRM 2012Who? Steve Boese, Director Talent Management Strategy, Oracle with John Sumser (, Bob Hohman (CEO of Glassdoor) and Jeremy Langhans (Head of Talent Attraction & Employer Brand for Expedia)

What: Is Social Recruiting Really Working

When: Wednesday, 11:30am-12:45pm

Why: Seriously, do you really need to ask? Look at that line up! The best line-up by far of any session at SHRM 2012. Oracle are a client of mine, so I’m slightly biased but Steve is a super smart guy and the host of the HR Happy Hour Show; I haven’t met Bob yet but will be interviewing him on Tuesday and I love how Glassdoor have applied user ratings to the job board world and exploded into social with Facebook apps etc. John Sumser is a legend and a gent. I had the pleasure of meeting John for the first time earlier this year at truLondon and he’s a really smart guy who just loves sitting back and analysing all this social influence stuff. As for Jeremy, seriously good job title, he’s just bound to have some really interesting perspectives on this excellent panel discussion topic. If you’re not there, forget about you (said in a New York/ Italian accent).

Follow: @SteveBoese @JohnSumser @bobhohman @jer425

Kris Dunn SHRM 2012Who: Kris Dunn, Recruiter & Blogger, Kinetix, Fistful of Talent

What: “Developing your Influence to Drive Better HR Performance”

When: Wednesday 11:30am-12:45pm

Why: I don’t know Kris or much about him but it’s great to see a recruiter delivering a session at SHRM (recruiters are few and far between amongst the HR folk) and I love his blogs on Fistful of Talent (he was one of the founders) so I’m hoping that his session on Influence and how it can drive better HR performance packs a punch! With nearly 30,000 followers on Twitter and one of the most read blogs in our industry, he knows a thing or two about influence. Co-presenting will be Tim Sackett, EVP, HRU Technical Resources.

Follow: @kris_dunn

Who: Bryan Johanson, EVP, The Adler Group

What: “The HR Generalist’s Survival Guide to Recruiting Top Talent”

When: Wednesday 11:30am-12:45pm

Why: As COO of the Adler Group, Bryan is business partner of the infamous Lou Adler, one of the original thought leaders in the Recruiting space. I’ve never heard Bryan speak before but you don’t get to rub shoulders with the likes of Lou unless you know something about something! In this session, one of the last of SHRM 2012, Bryan will be taking us through his top 10 Recruiting Survival Tips &  the Seven Deadly sins of recruiting and what to do about them.

Follow: LinkedIn

And that folks concludes my Top 20 list of SHRM sessions so I guess you know where I will be for the next 4 days! Come say hello if you see me in a session or out and about. Now, what did I miss? Any other sessions that you would recommend that I attend?

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