I’m so excited to meet Jennifer McClure at the annual SHRM conference this year – June 17th through 20th in Chicago. I chose to interview Jennifer because she is an inspiration to me at this point in my career. I am a member of the DisruptHR Buffalo planning committee, in a new role as an external recruiter, and a first time attendee of the annual SHRM conference, so her insights below were so wonderful! The amazing speakers are one of the awesome reasons you should attend #SHRM18 this year. I hope to see you there!
Jennifer is a full-time professional speaker and business advisor. She helps leaders embrace the future of work and leverage their influence to create positive, lasting change in and through their organizations. More information can be found at https://jennifermcclure.net/about/
How did you come up with the idea for DisruptHR and why do you think it’s a great forum to create change within the HR field?
Way back in 2013, I was having lunch with a friend of mine, who was the Founder of a local HR Technology company – Chris Ostoich. We were chatting about things that we’d like to do in the future, and I mentioned that I would like to eventually hold an event in Cincinnati that was a bit different than traditional HR and recruiting conferences – not something to replace them, but to add to the opportunity for people to network, learn – and have fun.
At the time, Chris was the local organizer for Ignite events in Cincinnati, so he came up with the idea of using the Ignite format (5 minute presentations, all with 20 slides that advance every 15 seconds) and worked with his team to create an event that would be fun, interesting, and “disruptive” – in terms of an alternative to traditional conferences and events. DisruptHR was born.
We held our first event in Cincinnati in December 2013, with no expectation that it would grow beyond that one event. However, people loved it! My friend, Mary Faulkner (who is also speaking at SHRM18) attended our first event, and asked if she could hold one in Denver. Then once we shared the videos of the Cincinnati and Denver Talks online, people started contacting us from all over the world wanting to hold an event in their city. As of February 2018, we’ve licensed 124 cities to hold DisruptHR events in 28 countries, and the movement continues to grow!
I think DisruptHR events are a great forum for change, because they incorporate fun, information, inspiration and connection – in a short time frame – and at a price that is affordable (sometimes free) to attend. We encourage anyone who works with people to attend – so that’s everybody – not just HR & Recruiting folks.
By getting the broader business community talking about talent and the future of work, we’re exposing people to different ways of thinking, and the opportunity to build relationships with people that they might not otherwise meet. I love that about DisruptHR!
Since I work in Talent Acquisition, I have to ask: what was your favorite aspect of working as an Executive Recruiter?
Surprisingly, I went into working as an Executive Recruiter as a skeptic about the value of the role. After years of working in corporate HR, and always having responsibility for recruiting, I took it personally if I had to bring an external recruiter in. I felt like I had failed, and no one could find people that matched the culture of the companies I worked for, or were the best fits like I could.
Thankfully, in my new role, I worked with a great mentor, who helped me to see the value that our process could add to company, the quality of candidates that we could identify since that was our focus and expertise, and he also taught me how to build relationships with clients and candidates – and not see the process as purely transactional.
I loved partnering with my clients to get to know their business, understand their culture, and really get to the heart of what would make a candidate successful in the role. Since that was my full-time job, I was able to really excel at that, and it helped me to see that I had been wrong to view the relationship with external recruiters negatively in the past. I guess you could say my favorite part was discovering where I’d been wrong – and ultimately seeing the light – so I could help others avoid the same mistakes.
What are your favorite volunteer activities or ways to give back to the community?
DisruptHR is actually a volunteer effort for me – and all of our community organizers. I spend dozens of hours each week stoking the fires of the movement, and I love encouraging others to get involved, get their message heard, to share their expertise, and to grow their networks. It’s very rewarding to hear stories about how people have challenged themselves to get out of their comfort zones, through organizing, speaking, or attending DisruptHR events.
One of your sessions at SHRM 18 is “Re-Inventing Human Resources: A Roadmap to Meet the Challenges of the Future and Achieve Success.” I’ve been hearing a lot about the future of HR and how HR always needs to be looking ahead. Why is it so important for HR to be forward thinking?
I truly believe that we have reached a point where the people in our organizations provide the biggest opportunity for competitive advantage, and as such, HR leaders are positioned to significantly impact their businesses if they can unlock the potential that lies within the workforce.
To do this, we’ve got to be thinking about the future, the future of work, and what’s new/what’s next. We won’t be able to compete in an increasingly competitive and changing global workplace if we stay the same.
The best HR leaders will be thinking about the skills that their workforce will need in the future, and putting programs and processes in place to develop or acquire those skills. They’ll also be thinking about how work gets done now – and in the future – and identifying what will be necessary to connect employees to the company, the culture, and their work.
Another one of your sessions is: “Defining and Communicating Your Personal Brand to Help Your Career and Your Organization Grow” – without giving too much away, what are you most excited about sharing during this session with attendees?
I love sharing this program with HR leaders, because they often don’t understand, or don’t feel like having a strong personal brand is necessary for them to be successful. For some reason, many HR pros feel like their work is best done in the shadows.
If I can help HR leaders to see how being known and recognized as an expert in their profession, and in their business, can help their organization to be recognized as an industry leader, and attract top talent, then the fact that by doing those things they can also grow their careers is just icing on the cake.
Even though you’ve attended the conference many times in the past, what is one thing you’re looking forward to again, and one new thing you’re looking forward to doing this year?
I love speaking at the SHRM Annual Conference, because it’s a fantastic opportunity to connect with so many people that I may only know through social networks, or online interactions. It’s great to meet in person. I also enjoy seeing many old friends, and familiar faces there each year.
I love attending as many sessions as I can at the conference, as well. I consider myself a life-long learner, and the annual conference provides such a wide mix of learning opportunities. I can learn from world leaders, best-selling authors, and experienced practitioners all in one place. You can’t beat that!
Any advice for first time attendees?
Study the conference schedule, and create a plan in advance. Make sure to build time into your personal schedule for networking and connecting, as well as time in the expo hall and bookstore.
It’s tempting to fill your schedule with sessions to attend, and forget the other aspects of the conference, but you’ll be missing out if you don’t take advantage of the full experience.
And of course, attend one or both of my sessions. That goes without saying!