Chairing the Australian Employment and Workplace Relations Summit: A huge learning experience

A few weeks ago I was asked by Jo Knox of HR Daily if I would be interested in chairing the summit. My first instinct was, ‘wow that would be a great development opportunity’ and I said ‘sure put my name forward’.

I got an email from the organisers and asked my boss what he thought. Just like he always does, he reminds me of all the things I’ve not thought of.

• Given I have a background in Learning and Development/OD would I have enough knowledge about all of the areas covered in the summit?
• How confident am I speaking in front of a group of my peers (and possibly very experienced peers?)
• Have I ever done anything like this before?
• Have I ever facilitated a panel of experts before?
• Had I gotten from the higher powers at my workplace?


Although I was a bit disappointed by the reaction, he was right. I hadn’t really thought it through. That week I got shingles, I had my first HR Club Sydney event coming up, I was busy as hell at work, and working long hours.

I left it a few days, because work took over, I was sick and I really didn’t want to make a decision. I wanted to take the opportunity, but was it a risk I was willing to take?

A good friend of mine always says to me “the only way to get over scary things is to do them”.

Yep, I'd rather jump out of a plane than speak in public

Yep, I'd rather jump out of a plane than speak in public

In not really thinking about it too much and not wanting to pass up the opportunity, I spoke to my boss about it and in promising to study up on the topics he allowed me to do it.

So the week went on, I buried myself in work and found myself on my way to Melbourne for the summit. I kept thinking positive and reminded myself that I had done the research.

I woke up in the morning had some breakfast, and although I was feeling a bit nervous I was also excited about doing the job. The crowd took a little while to warm up but after the first speakers, and a few lame jokes on my part, I was happy every time I got up there, even when my boss came to watch!

I had a great time, I met some wonderful people from the audience, the speakers were engaging and I learned a lot.

I was however feeling a little ill all day. My stomach was cramping and I felt nauseous. My boss bought me some buscopan and I thought I’d be ok. I keep pushing through but with about ten minutes to go, I just couldn’t keep going and I rushed off to the bathroom just making it to be sick.

Ah well. These things happen and as another friend said ‘everyone gets sick’.

Anyway the moral of the story? Try your gut instinct and go for it. The only way to get over scary things is indeed, just to do them.



Filed under Events, Learning and Development

2 responses to “Chairing the Australian Employment and Workplace Relations Summit: A huge learning experience

  1. Thanks for sharing this Jess – very gutsy – so glad you did it! It’s always good to challenge yourself and do things you don’t feel quite confident or capable of doing, only to make it through (relatively) unscathed :).

    • hrclubsyd

      Yeah it is a good feeling afterwards and so that makes it all worthwhile. It is also good learning to make mistakes along the way 🙂

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