Scotland the Blog: CIPD Scotland on Show: Part One

Having won the biggest accolade possible for a business conference at last year’s Scottish Events Awards, it was going to be hard to better the CIPD Scotland Conference experience, but the conference planning group rose to the challenge.

>The tools and resources that Google deploy are awe-inspiring, and their vision and insight is powerful.

We kicked off with a reception at Glasgow’s magnificent City Chambers, a reception hosted by Glasgow City Council and the occasion to recognise the splendid work of our conference planning group. CIPD Chair Dean Royles was on hand to issue a richly deserved CIPD PACE award to the team. Dean also presented Napier University’s Tony Reeves with an individual PACE award. I have lost count of the number of HR practitioners how have told me that Tony changed their perspective  through his great teaching.

Two dinners - one hosted for HR Directors and sponsored by Oracle, and one for our speakers and sponsors- illustrated the “working social” nature of our conference and set the tone of collaboration and insight throughout.

Day one saw CIPD CEO Peter Cheese set out how CIPD is transforming the HR profession by building and recognising professional capability. Earlier, yours truly had outlined our vision for harnessing the abundant energy and commitment of our Scottish volunteers, the CIPD Scotland team and partners to deliver our vision for Scotland’s Skilled Future.

Talking of vision Stephan Thoma, Google’s Inspiring L&D Director, had delegates rapt as he outlined their deeply analytical and evidence-based approach to managing and developing people in this cutting edge business. The tools and resources that Google deploy are awe-inspiring, and their vision and insight is powerful. However their approach  s deeply people focused and highly enlightened. Stephan is clearly smart enough to work at Google ,though he never did answer how to get out of a blender if you were shrunk to the size of a penny piece!

The conference breakout sessions this year were different. Recognising that people wanted longer sessions to reflect and deepen learning we were able to run several distinct streams. Employee engagement ,raising the flag of the excellent 'Engage for Success' initiative with Rebecca Normand and Liz Reilly (Scotland’s champion), was one such stream. Delegates could choose the 'Role of OD in Change Management' with perspectives from ex BT HRD Suzanne Hester and Rand Alhashimi from DFID, which I was told was a great session. I unfortunately couldn’t join in because it was packed to the gunnels. We could barely fit into the room as Perry Timms and CIPD West of Scotland's Chair Connie Hendy shared lessons from CIPD’s Hackathon.

We also had a great session on disruptive  leadership with some high flying insight from  both Henley Business School and Carole Benzie the MD of Aberdeen airport.

Throughout the extended lunch and break sessions our delegates were able to visit our stands and connect with our exhibitors and sponsors.

Day one was closed by Jeff Turner from Facebook who in his laid back style shared their compelling approach of how to engage generation F as they are known. Jeff heads up L&D for EMEA, and his honest, frank and self-effacing approach to the dilemma of managing across generations was timely and full of insight. I expect there were a huge number of “likes”for Jeff’s excellent session as indeed there where when we talent spotted him at our ACE conference last year.

With day one starting and finishing on a high note, it was time to show off our finery and for me to get South East Scotland's Vice Chair Keith Watson to help me put on a bow tie. Passing delegates thought they were witnessing a  scene from Downton Abbey!  The gala dinner was a triumph with a brilliant turn by comedian Jo Caulfield who gave her unique take on Scottishness and HR, all to hilarious effect. The raffle raised a decent sum for our chosen charity Combat Stress, supporting its brilliant facility near Ayr. There was a big presence from the military, encouraged by the great work that our Chairman, Donald Gordon, does with SABRE and the Army Personnel Council.

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