Inside HR: It’s a Wild Rush of Conferences in the Fall — Especially HR Tech

Editor’s Note: Inside HR will occasionally explore events and other interesting things happening in the world of talent management and HR.

HR’s Fall conference season comes quick and goes fast.

Unlike the Spring season, which has a leisurely 4-5 months to unravel, the Fall events start right after Labor Day and race ahead until early November, or so — a rapid, two month sprint before we run into the start of the holiday season.

On Sunday Oct. 18, the biggest (and some would say most important) HR Fall event cranks up — the annual HR Technology Conference & Exhibition at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Although it’s not quite the same without the irrepressible Bill Kutik at the helm, Steve Boese has stepped into’s Bill’s large shoes and managed to keep the event both relevant and moving ahead. More on that in a bit.

The HR Technology conference was built into a "must see" event by Bill Kutik.

The HR Technology conference was built into a “must see” event by Bill Kutik.

But there are a number of other significant HR and talent management events in the Fall as well.

Significant Fall conferences

ERE, the parent company of TLNT, has two of them — Fall SourceCon, which played to yet another record crowd of sourcers and talent acquisition professionals last month in Dallas, and the Fall ERE Recruiting Conference that is being held later this month (Oct. 26-28) at the Omni CNN Center Hotel in Atlanta.

There’s also a big LinkedIn event called Talent Connect that took place this week in Anaheim, although I don’t know much about it because a) I’ve never been invited; b) Never have attended; and C), It really doesn’t seem to have much to do with HR.

There are also other events going on, some that I have attended in past years but have long since forgotten, but the point is that  there are a lot of HR and talent management related conferences taking place in a brief, two month  period.

I get to a lot of conferences in the course of a year, and I’m always looking for new, interesting events to attend. That’s how I ended up in New York City last week at Michael C. Fina‘s first-ever Engagement in Healthcare Summit.

It was a day and a half event, sort of like how The Conference Board used to schedule their events (back when I attended Conference Board events), and the short-and-sweet schedule combined with the intimate crowd size (maybe 50 people were there) made it both informative and charming.

The quiet charm of “smaller” events

I know there are a lot of “smaller” HR and talent management events out there, but I seem to get stuck just going to the bigger conferences, like HR Tech, WorldatWork and the SHRM annual conference in June. They have their good points, but just the sheer size of those events makes it hard to dig in and really connect with many people.

That’s what made the Engagement in Healthcare Summit such a pleasure.

It was small enough that you could really meet and get to know everyone else there. Plus, it was short enough — it started at 4 pm one day and was over by 3:30 pm the next — that it worked well with most everyone’s busy schedules. Add in that there aren’t a huge number of talent management events held in New York City, and well, you can see why it was an event that was  well-received.

Plus, the speakers were sharp and engaging, and that’s not a given at ANY talent management conference.

Alexandra Valentin, Corporate Director of Culture Transformation at The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center, kicked things off by walking everyone through how Ritz-Carlton recruits, hires, and trains super-engaged employees so they will totally embrace the Ritz-Carlton culture. And, Joseph Cabral, the Chief HR Officer, at the Cleveland Clinic, talked about how an accomplished medical facility like the Cleveland Clinic continues to engage it’s employees to maximize the best possible outcomes for patients.

These are big league talent management professionals with great credentials who have something to say that we can all learn from.

Michael C. Fina is a rewards and recognition company, but clearly, they are willing to step outside the box by doing something like the Engagement in Healthcare Summit. Kudos to them, and to other companies, that are willing to dig in and put on some of these smaller, but in some ways, more relevant and meaningful events. They are a growing and highly relevant part of the market.

Next week, it’s HR Tech in Vegas

But, as much as I like the smaller conferences, you can’t get away from the big ones — like HR Tech.

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I missed HR Tech 2014, but I’ll be at the 2015 version next week in Las Vegas, and it’s a good thing I am because it’s moving back to Chicago (yikes!) for 2016. I’ve written before about why I hate Chicago as a conference city, and if anything, it is worse now (more crime, more taxes) than it was when I complained about it back in 2013.

Great restaurants aside, Chicago is a conference city you want to avoid if at all possible. Your company budget will thank you.

Of course, Las Vegas doesn’t sit well with a lot of people either, for a lot of reasons I won’t go into here, but one thing about HR Tech in Vegas is that it is an easier conference to navigate, and a lot cheaper on the expense account, than when it is in Chicago.    Plus, you get to see things in Sin City that you just don’t get at any other HR event anywhere else.

And don’t forget — HR Tech is the single place to be if your organization is thinking about purchasing any new technology anytime soon. It is THE place to be to check out products and make comparisons, because everyone who sells technology in the HR and talent management space is there.

So, I really like the Fall conference season in HR because it is short, mostly sweet, and sometimes new and different (thanks Michael C. Fina!).

But check back with me about all of that around this time next week after I have returned from another HR Technology conference in Las Vegas. I may feel differently if I end up losing my lunch money at the craps table.

John Hollon

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.