Tag Archives: AHRI National Convention

Jack Welch Says HR Managers Have the Most Important Job in America

Earlier this week I wrote a post “Banking on People”, which outlined David Morgan’s speach at the AHRI National Convention. He made a number of genuine statements about how important people are to your business and how important it was for him as a CEO to work extremely closely with the HR Director.

Additionally, Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, was the opening keynote speaker at the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) 61 st Annual Conference and Exposition in New Orleans this week. He says that HR managers have the most important job in America and that CEOs should value their HR managers as much as their chief financial officers.


I think the fact that highly succesful CEO’s in America and Australia are openly coming out and making these statements is so powerful and is necessary in order to drive a change in the way that leaders in the business view Human Resources.

Read more on Jack’s speech here



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FL!P Peter Sheahan speaks about mindset flexibility at AHRI National Conference

Peter Sheahan

How do you stay ahead in a world where ‘fast, good, and cheap’ are just the price of entry for your clients, customers and staff? What is the X factor you need to differentiate your offering – and what will it be tomorrow? How will HR add the most value to business in this market and what will HR need to do in order to be seen as a genuine partner and not just a consultant, or worse, a support function to the wider business?
This session was a must for leaders who want to stay on the cutting edge and future-proof their business. It outlines how the world is changing, and what the mindset of the business leader needs to be to adapt to that change. HR professionals and senior executives will be inspired and informed, and be ready to blitz the challenges that lie before them.

Peter was a highly engaging and interesting speaker, and this was important as he was towards the end of Day Two of the AHRI National Convention. He started out by telling us that the number one skill needed by Senior Leaders was what he called ‘Mindset flexibility’.


‘Mindset flexibility, not proprietary expertise or resources will define the successful businesses and leaders of the future’.

Mindset flexibility is about ‘flipping’ the norms or what we have been complacent with, and being challenged. In times of high-speed change and complexity, a new philosophy for strategy and leadership is needed. Peter argues that the real money is made in the cracks and that we are conditioned by past experiences (choosing to stick with the way its always been done) and being conned by media into believing that success or failure is a result of the economic conditions.

The biggest take out for me from this presentation was when he used the “Values Jam” from IBM as an example of flipping the way HR does things.

In a time of great change, IBM felt like it needed to revaluate its values for the first time since it was founded. They said they needed to “affirm IBM’s reason for being, what sets the company apart and what should drive our actions as individual IBMers.”

The CEO did want this dictated from the top and wanted everyone engaged in the process. So they created the “values jam”. For 72 hours they invited all 319, 000 IBMers to their global intranet for a discussion on the values at IBM.

The CEO said that people were brutally honest and that “some of what they wrote was painful to read, because they pointed out all the bureaucratic and dysfunctional things that get in the way of serving clients, working as a team or implementing new ideas.”

The result was:
• Dedication to every client’s success
• Innovation that matters, for our company and for the world
• Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships

What an amazing organizational change experience to be part of. So go ahead and get yourself FL!Pped today!

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Future Files: a history of the next 50 years. Richard Watson speaks at the AHRI National Convention

Richard Watson
Check out his blog.

Richard Watson

Prediction is a dangerous game – the future is never a straight, linear extrapolation from the present. Unexpected innovations and events conspire to trip up the best-laid plans, but predicting is better than not thinking about the future at all.

Widely acclaimed author and futurist Richard Watson makes provocative forecasts about how the world and the world of work might change in the next half-century as he examines emerging patterns and developments in society, the economy and business.

Richard Watson is a futurist- and what exactly is a futurist you ask? Richard said it is essentially someone who thinks about the future. Pretty simple explanation, but don’t we all think about the future in one way or other?

More specifically Futurists, or futurologists, are those who speculate about the future. He says that we can’t predict individual events, but as a futurist he looks at broad waves and patterns to predict what may happen.

In his presentation, Richard argued that there were four key drivers of change in the next 15 years; namely globalisation, demographics, technology and the environment and these are explained briefly below.

Growth of outsourcing
Rising job mobility
High skill jobs under increasing pressure

Ageing workforce
Declining birth rates
Skills shortages- more leaving Australia than those entering
Gen Y impacts- (Gen X and Boomers struggle if they can’t physically see their workers so workplace needs to get more flexible)
Gen i- millennials etc will expect a much more flexible workplace
Immigration- we’ll need to increase people that come in to compete
Baby Boomers retiring


The internet will be more sensory
Pace of change will increase
Increased automation i.e. smart machines
Growth of virtual worlds
Rising IT enabling distance working and collaboration
Rise of robotics
Web 3.0

Demand for natural resources rising
People more aware of sustainability issues
Procurement taking on strategic significance
Tightening regulation
Rising transparency expectations
People are beginning to make decisions on social, ethical and environmental decisions

So what does the future of work look like?

It is faster… more global… more polarised (with technology and incomes)… there will be more part-time work…there’ll be more specialists….more machines…more stressful!

Finally I’ll leave you with Richard’s tongue-in-cheek “Extinction Timeline”.

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Banking on People: David Morgan

David Morgan is the former chief executive officer of Westpac Banking Corporation (1999-2008). Prior to Westpac, Dr Morgan worked at the International Monetary Fund in Washington and the Federal Treasury as the senior deputy secretary. In 2009, Dr Morgan was named a member of the Order of Australia for service to the finance sector as a leader in the development of policies affecting the regulation of financial institutions, corporate social responsibility, and economic reform.

I really enjoyed David’s talk because although he touched on the GFC, unemployment and what his thoughts were on the situation; his overwhelming message was that your frontline people are your brand and that you need to look after them because not only are you nothing without them, but it makes good business sense. Customers don’t trust companies; they trust people- that is why your staff are so important. He also noted that when you have employees whose values align with the organisation, they’ll essentially manage themselves. He appeared to be a great leader during his time as CEO at Westpac and listening to him made part of me wished I had been there to experience that journey as well.


For instance, as CEO he went around Australia with all the DECISION MAKERS in the company, visiting ALL their sites, TWICE a year and spoke to ALL the frontline leaders at Westpac. Why? Because this was the best vehicle to communicate the vision and get feedback from the frontline. He also had a company hotline, where at certain periods of the day anyone could call and talk to the CEO, because he didn’t want to be divorced from the frontline staff. Finally he said that out of all the executives, he spent most of his time with the HR director, and that their offices were always next to each other. In how many companies do you know of where HR has such a prominent seat at the table- let alone right next to the CEO?

He also spoke a lot about ethics and corporate responsibility, arguing that they are demonstrably important to business. Moreover, he articulated that corporate social responsibility is a value adding strategy. Check out the Westpac website for some info.

Finally, he argued the importance of looking after your top 10% of talent. It’s important to do this during a boom because of the scarcity of talent but also in an economic downturn because your top 10% of talent will still have the options to go somewhere else. This is why he also said companies should avoid knee jerk reactions with regards to compensation and that the top 10% of talent should be exempt from hiring and pay freezes.

Overall David was fantastic to listen to because it was really proof of what is possible with the right leadership.


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Beyond the creatives: managing all your talent in a time of uncertainty

Sir Ken Robinson
Internationally-renowned expert in the development of human potential in business and education

This was an amazing start to the conference. Ken was an incredibly engaging speaker, really funny and he even managed to bust out a Perth joke in his opening address. I’ll admit whilst I was laughing at his jokes I did think he slightly resembled Austin Powers father with his English charm!

On a more serious note, Sir Ken Robinson is an internationally recognised leader in the development of creativity, innovation, education and HR through his work with international governments, Fortune 500 companies, not-for-profit corporations and some of the world’s leading cultural organisations.


The biggest take out for me was about being creative and reaching your potential. I think in HR sometimes we are too busy putting out the fires and we forget that the real basic aim is to help people perform at their best, and this involves them being creative and reaching their full potential whether they work in marketing, sales, engineering, finance or IT. Our culture has certain presumptions about creativity (about who is creative and who isn’t) – but Sir Ken argued that everyone is and has the capacity to be creative; it’s just that some people have discovered their natural creative abilities and some haven’t. There is a lot you can do to be more creative everyday. Anything can be creative whether it’s a process, product or system.

He made us think about the world and how it changes constantly. For example, kids who start school this year will retire in about 2070- what will the world look like in this time? The thing is we don’t know and the point is- we can’t keep using the same ideas and assumptions about HR today to use in the future. Everyone in the organisation in fact needs to think differently in the future and that’s the reason why creativity is so important. With the turbulence of the market and the rate of technological change we need to make innovation and creativity systemic in what we do.

So what is creativity? Sir Ken argues that imagination is the roof of human consciousness and that creativity means putting your imagination to work. Being creative is a practical activity. It’s the process of having original ideas that add value. It’s about fresh thinking and adding value to what you do. Innovation is putting good ideas into practice.

He then spoke about how in the past HR has been seen as primarily a service function but now more than ever needs to be seen as strategic, and that we need to challenge what has been taken advantage of in the past- the things that are commonsense and habitual because this is precisely what kills creativity.

It made me really think about what I am doing every day in my role, and that I need to be constantly thinking how we can be doing things differently. We can’t always be saying ‘that’s the way it’s always been done’ and we need to be open minded about new ideas.


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AHRI National Convention 2009

I’m extremely excited to be attending the AHRI (Australian Human Resources Institute) National Convention next week which is being held at the Sydney Convention Exhibition Centre.

AHRI National Convention

It launches this Sunday at 5pm with the Cocktail Reception, and the actual Convention is on Monday 14th and Tuesday 15th June.

Check out the program here .

I’m probably most excited to hear Lee Hopkins speak on the secret business of social networking and Peter Sheahan, who is an author and expert in workforce trends and generational change.

Can’t get to the main conference? Then check out the exhibition for the latest HR and people management solutions. It’s free, but you must register here.

HR products and services on show:
• Learning and development
• HR/IR publications
• International HR management
• Organisational design and development
• Employer branding
• Employee relocation
• Attraction and retention
• Corporate health providers
• HR software solutions
• Performance and reward
• Occupational health and safety
• Recruitment and assessment

There are also meet and greet dinner’s being organised for delegates after the Cocktail evening on Sunday night. I think I’m going to head to the Blackbird Cafe so let me know if you are heading there too.

Of course if you can’t get to these events I’ll be tweeting as much as possible (follow the hashtag #AHRI09) and blogging when I have time!

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