By Dr. Marie Gould Harper
Program Director, Management at American Public University
This week I will participate in one of my favorite events in one of my favorite cities. I am attending the annual Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) conference and Exposition in Chicago to learn what is trending in the field.
I am always impressed by the pre-organization of the conference. The staff has worked seamlessly to make things simple for us attendees. A special treat this year was being able to check in to the conference at the airport baggage claim section where the planners had set up a registration booth. Saved us all a lot of time!
I am eagerly anticipating the next couple of days. My intuition says “get ready by being rested.” I expect a deluge of information and new contacts that will influence my “what’s next?”
What is creating the excitement?
- The people – It wasn’t until I landed that I realized the two people sitting next to me were attending the same conference. Both were excited and shared why they were attending. One individual attended the conference last year, the other person was a first-time participant. It was nice having the opportunity to meet people from my area before the events started. We could keep in touch with one another and share what we learned.
- The sessions – The diversity of the tracks and types of sessions is one of the best features of the SHRM conference. There’s something for everyone. No one can say that there is an area of the HR field that is not covered during this event. You control what you want to take in, and SHRM gives you an opportunity to retrieve information from the events you couldn’t attend.
- The culture – I have been to this conference three times in Chicago. I’m not sure why, but there appears to be a high level of enthusiasm every time SHRM comes here. Being hosted by a welcoming city can make a big difference in your experience. Everyone seems to be relaxed, and I believe one factor is the helpfulness of the volunteers.
- The activities –In the past, we have always had a high-level event/concert, and we have one again scheduled for this year. However, we also will have the opportunity to participate in fun events such as a step challenge using our fitbits and also our version of “The Amazing Race.”
- The opportunities – During lunch, I ran into another set of people who also came from my area. Not only did we have the chance to get to know one another, but they also invited me to attend some of their chapter meetings when we return home.
In addition to the scheduled events, some groups are sponsoring evening networking events.
However, the bottom line is the potential. When I combine all of the points mentioned above, I see success, the success of a conference aimed at making a difference in the lives of HR employees in the workplace. This is our opportunity to gear up and develop our skills to help workers transition to the next level in their career lives.
Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to be your eyes and ears because I plan to share with you what I learn here from the various speakers and new interactions.
About the Author
Dr. Marie Gould Harper is the Program Director of Management at American Public University. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Wellesley College, a master’s degree in instructional systems from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate in business from Capella University. She is a progressive coach, facilitator, writer, strategist and human resources/organizational development professional with more than 30 years of leadership, project management, and administrative experience. Dr. Gould Harper has worked in both corporate and academic environments.
Dr. Gould Harper is an innovative thinker and influential leader, manifesting people skills, a methodical approach to problems, organizational vision and ability to inspire followers. She is committed to continuous improvement in organizational effectiveness and human capital development, customer service and the development of future leaders.