Strategic Talent Acquisition Conference 2015: Recap

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Author: Randi Kenney | Source: HCI | Published: July 1, 2015

Last week, HCI’s Strategic Talent Acquisition conference took place in Boston with over 500 HR professionals and vendors in attendance. Attendees had the opportunity to participate in engaging workshops and hear exciting talks from HR leaders from some of the nation’s leading organizations. Though I myself was not present in Boston, I had the privilege of viewing many of the talks through our Virtual Conference platform.

The energy and momentum of the conference was contagious even for remote attendees, as the folks at the conference kept the #HCIEvents hashtag alive with thoughts, ideas and photos over the course of the entire event. The theme of this year’s conference was “Reinventing Talent Acquisition for Business Alignment,” and speakers from leading national and international companies shared innovative practices and processes for finding and retaining talent in a 21st century business environment.


The biggest takeaway for me was the reminder that talent acquisition is, at its core, a function of people. The changing technological universe is allowing us to automate and get better at nearly every function of the talent acquisition process, but we as professionals still need that human connection to build culture, network and continue to grow personally and professionally. This is part of the reason why our conferences are so much fun—I got to do a lot of learning from my desk, but I still missed out on the invaluable conversations with colleagues and peers that took place over the course of the event.

Despite that, I want to share some of the highlights of the presentations. At an event with this many big names and big companies, it’s difficult to condense everything I really learned, but here are a few things that stood out.


Innovative companies can change our social foundations.

Renee Atwood, Head of People for Uber, shared an amazing story about how their efforts to hire globally have transformed the lives of women in Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, females are banned from driving. Public transportation and taxis are unreliable, and having a personal driver is expensive. In this country, 80% of riders are female. They no longer have to wait for their husband or brother to get home from work to merely take care of errands. This wasn’t the intention of Uber when the company was founded, but it’s an unintended consequence that is making the world a little better.


Disrupted plans can be the best plans.

Montage sponsored a panel on video interviewing featuring their clients ESPN, Humana, Robert W. Baird & Co. and Ferguson Enterprises. Unfortunately, Kevin Stakelum of Humana was unable to attend the conference in person so Montage had the opportunity to utilize their own video-enabled software to connect with Kevin remotely and allow him to participate in the panel. It was a great way for Montage to showcase their solution and reinforce the importance of leveraging technology to adapt to changing needs.


Culture eats strategy for breakfast, and lunch and dinner too.

In his opening remarks on Day 1, Bill Taylor (co-founder of Fast Company and author of Practically Radical: Not-So-Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry and Challenge Yourself) said it best--your company is your culture and your culture is your company. In the closing keynote speech, Lori Russo of TripAdvisor brought it home when she discussed reinventing TripAdvisor’s employment brand. Lori had her A-Ha! Moment on her first day as a recruiter—TripAdvisor needed a hiring culture. And they built that culture, one candidate at a time, whether they intended to hire that person or not.

These are just three brief highlights from a full two days of thought leadership, HR expertise and talent acquisition innovation. We’re already laying the foundation for next year’s event, and we hope to see all of our HCI members there for stories like these and more.