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We came, we saw, we conferenced: HRPA 2010

By February 2, 2010August 6th, 2019Uncategorized

Last week, Career Edge Organization conquered the Human Resources Professionals Association’s Annual Conference and Tradeshow – aka HRPA 20X.

We not only took up post at the tradeshow as an exhibitor, we also had eyes and ears in the conference. So if you couldn’t make it out this year, no worries! Let us fill you in.


More than 3,500 business professionals attend the HRPA Conference and Tradeshow annually, making it Canada’s top HR event and one of the largest HR events in the world.

The event boasts 120+ workshops for professional development and over 250 exhibitors offering the latest and greatest in HR products, solutions and services. Attendees included everyone from HR students, to HR managers as well senior executives and business leaders. And, of course, we were there too!

Keynote highlights:

We already told you about Mitch Joel, one of my personal favourites. HRPA 20X had a great lineup of seasoned speakers that were ready to inform and entertain.

As the first Keynote of the conference, Dr. Nick Bontis took the main stage on Wednesday morning to talk about “Harnessing the Power of Collaboration.” What did we learn? That “unlearning” is the key to collaboration – clearing space in the mind in order to make room to learn something new.

A great example of this is how recruitment strategies continually focus on Type A personalities as the ideal candidate when actually, Type A’s aren’t always the best collaborators Stereotypically hungry for power, Type A’s are more concerned with climbing the corporate ladder and hoarding information. He stressed the importance of revisiting HR strategies to ensure diversity of thought and perspectives so that each team member can contribute the organization’s goals in a unique and collaborative way.

Wednesday afternoon we listened to Bertice Berry, PhD, sociologist and award winning lecturer, deliver a funny and inspiring presentation in “Renew, Re-energize and Re-engage.” A celebrated, best-selling author, we are eager to pick up her newest book, The Ties That Bind: A Memoir of Race, Redemption and Memory.


On Thursday morning we attended “HR Transformation” with David Ulrich, a business professor at the Ross School of Business and University of Michigan. Ulrich has written fifteen books covering topics in HR and leadership.

On stage at the conference, David Ulrich discussed how he has helped shape thinking on hot to transform HR practices so that they are aligned to customer needs, and integrated around organization capabilities. He described how the next generation of HR Transformation is more tightly linked to corporate strategy and to creating business value through HR service that address a company’s most strategic challenges. That means anticipating critical workforce trends, shaping and executing business strategy, identifying and addressing people-related risks and regulations, enhancing workforce performance and productivity, and offering new HR services to help a company improve and grow.

Friday morning, professional speaker Jeff Tobe delivered an energetic presentation that challenged us, the audience, to see beyond existing paradigms to communicate and solve problems creatively. He also emphasized the power of asking the right questions and listening between the lines to effectively relate an organization to its employees’ goals. He encouraged HR professionals to “colour WAY outside the lines” in order to thrive in a changing global market.

Ali Velshi, CNN’s chief business correspondent, closed the conference on Friday afternoon with some fascinating insights into his experiences as iconic finance journalist. He spoke candidly about his experiences in Hurricanes Ike and Katrina, and about being ahead of the recession at CNN.

Workshop Highlights

Having recently conducted our own Gen Y Study, we were excited to kick off Wednesday morning with Cheryl Cran at “Boldly Lead Gen X, Y and Zoomer Generations in Your Workplace.”

One of the key takeaways was how technology itself often creates the biggest divide between the generations, who fall into one of three categories: techno savvy, techno efficient or techno adaptive (we think there may be a fourth: technophobe!).

She also discussed how Gen Y has gone through a school system that provided a more flexible work environment and encouraged a more creative, well-rounded approach to learning rather than the “three R’s” of their predecessors (reading, writing, and arithmetic).

HRPA 20X offered so many great options it was difficult to select workshops, however Lynda Goldman’s session stood out because it was about integrating immigrants – something we take a keen interest in due to our Career Bridge program for Internationally Qualified Workers. What we particularly liked was a 7-step checklist for inclusiveness in the workplace (check our blog in coming weeks for a full post on this!).

Wednesday afternoon ended with an encouraging presentation from HRPA on accelerating the integration of internationally educated human resources professionals, based on findings from a research project aimed at understanding the challenges and barriers they face. Among their findings, the study showed a significant need for post-employment coaching and that middle managers need access to cultural competency training.

Thursday’s highlights include a session from PepsiCo, presenting a case study on their journey towards promoting diversity and inclusion. In talking about their successes, Career Edge Organization and Career Bridge were noted several times as being a significant part of their strategies to attract and retain talent.

Maria Escobar, MBA, Manager, Talent Acquisition and Diversity and Inclusion, PepsiCo Canada, also emphasized the importance of senior leadership’s involvement and promoting awareness across the company. PepsiCo developed a national strategy which was locally executed, bearing in mind demographic differences. The central involvement of employees was a key component of the sustainability of their efforts.

On Friday morning, we heard from coach/consultant Chuck Bolton who enlightened us on how to work efficiently and bond within a team. He tackled everyday issues such as how to address conflict, and the “rotting fish” issue (lingering issues need to be dealt with within 48 hours before the relationship is irreparable).

In the afternoon we attended Julian Chapman’s “supersession,” entitled “Mining Talent: From Competencies to Capabilities.” He stressed that with the departure of Boomers in the workplace, Managers should place more emphasis on Talent Management (rather than Performance Management) which takes an integrated approach that considers future capabilities and relies on mentorship and succession planning.

Finally, Patricia Murray, LLB, Barrister and Solicitor at Hicks Morley LLP delivered an important workshop on accommodation and took the discussion beyond accessibility and physical disabilities. Instead, she focused on the unique challenges of accommodating employees with childcare needs and those with mental health disabilities – two increasingly common workplace issues. She reviewed legal principles such as the duty to accommodate and provided an overview of the new Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, a significant change that occurred in the summer of 2008. The key message to employers here was to be proactive or take action as early as possible, because waiting until the last minute could have legal consequences and negatively impact your image as an employer of choice.

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our presence at the HRPA conference and our time at the booth was equally satisfying. It is always a pleasure to represent our organization and get out from behind our desks to meet people face-to-face. Many of the visitors to our booth were employers or alumni (former interns) that were thrilled to connect with us and share their personal success stories.


We can’t wait to do it all again in 2011! In the mean time, visit our blog again as we continue to elaborate on some of the key findings from our sessions, such as tips from Chuck Bolton, legal updates on accommodation, the “7-step checklist for inclusiveness in the workplace,” and much more!