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Tell Us About It: SHRM22 Annual Conference & Expo

    Several SHRM Topeka members attended this year's SHRM22 Annual Conference & Expo in New Orleans, and I wanted all the details about this great event! Lisa Carlton, Ruth Harjo and Lara Watts, along with Makala Navarro, Kansas State Council Director-Elect, shared their feedback.


                                                             Ruth Harjo and Lara Waits

    What were one or two of your favorite sessions?

    Lara's favorite sessions were "HR Revealed! Transforming from Support Role to Strategic Leader" presented by Steve Browne, SHRM-SCP and "Seven Steps for Creating Bulletproof Documentation" presented by Allison West, Esq. SHRM-SCP, AWI-CH. She shared her favorite quote from Steve's session,

    "Cows run away from the storm while the buffalo charges toward it - and gets through it quicker. Whenever I'm confronted with a touch challenge, I do not prolong the torment, I become the buffalo." - Wilma Mankiller

    Lisa's favorite sessions included, "Rise and Shine: HR's Defining Moment is Now!" presented by Johnny Taylor, President and CEO of SHRM. According to Lisa, Johnny is a vibrant speaker who is so knowledgable in the ways of HR. He discussed causing the effect, being the thermostat instead of the thermometer, and to make the change, don't just report the change. 


    Lisa also highlighted the closing session with President George W. Bush interviewed by Johnny Taylor. President Bush, with a true sense of humor, talked a lot of about his family and their positive influence on him. 


                                          Lisa Carlton, Makala Navarro and Stacey Moeder

    Makala also noted Johnny Taylor's session as a favorite, with Johnny discussing how COVID showcased HR's value to an organization by handling the crazy velocity of change. According to Makala, "Every single thing we do in our practice could have historical significance. He shared the findings of an ancient tablet that showed employee names and absences and their reasons for absence. A tablet that’s estimated to be be over 3000 years old – detailed how a man (a man!) missed work to care for his family – thus laying the foundation for FMLA and parental leave. Think on that."

    Makala also listed Arianna Huffington's session, "Shifting Mental Health Awareness into Action in the Workplace," as a favorite of hers. Makala stated, "Her message about showing that you care as a leader isn’t about being nice and benevolent – rather, it’s a business strategy. Employee wellbeing is paramount to a productive workforce and should be a priority for all leaders. Especially today." Makala also loved her idea of “60 second resets” – to periodically take a moment to reset with a focus on gratitude, mindfulness, and movement.  


    Were you able to network with other professionals?

    Attendess were able to meet and talk with other HR practitioners from all over the country everywhere in the conference, from the Volunteer Leader's Lounge to while in line for coffee. Being able to meet with other HR professionals in your specific field was another major positive! Ruth noted that there is such a huge sense of community at this conference, and you can both meet new people and reconnect with others you have met in the past. 


                                                         Lara Waits and Lisa Carlton

    Would you recommend that other HR professionals attend the annual conference? 

    Makala said, "100%! It’s an entirely different experience than at a local or state function. All are good, but the reach for speakers and presenters at the national conference is different. And the ability to engage in conversations and learn from others from all over the place is great. If you’re a volunteer leader – the connections at national conference are awesome, but this conference is for everyone. That said – don’t skip the Kansas SHRM State Conference!"

    Lisa absolutely recommends attending because it is the best for networking and you get to check out the vendors in the exhibit hall. Plus, if you're certified, you received 27 professional development credits! If you are not, there are many opportunities to work on getting ceritfied.

    Along with recommending the conference, Lara also recommends wearing a good pair of walking shoes! 

                                                                Ruth Harjo and Lara Waits

    Any other comments or feedback that I can share?

    Lara: "Make sure you go in with an open mind and come back with goals of things you learned from the sessions." 

    Lisa: "Every year they offer a theme and this year's was Talent Acquisition during the Great Recession and DEI initiatives. I learned a lot and hope to go back next year!" 

    Makala: "When it comes to national conferences there are a lot of options based on your focus area. With the cost of these programs running $1300 - $2000 just to attend it is an investment. Use your time there wisely. Maximize your learning opportunities. We were able to earn 27 PDCs at national. That’s awesome. But if you don’t have the budget for a national conference, the Kansas SHRM State Conference offers almost as many PDC’s (sometimes more!) for a much lower price."


    Start Planning for Next Year's Annual Conference

    If you're ready to start planning to attend next year's SHRM Annual Conference in Las Vegas, you can find all the details at! The lowest registration is currently available and if you are a volunteer leader you can save an extra 10%! 


    Written by Karina Dixon, Communications Director