How will artificial intelligence and other fast-growing technologies integrate into the practice of human resources (HR), known for its human touch? What are the key skills HR professionals will need, and how can they continue to update them as organizational expectations evolve?
These were some of the issues in the spotlight at the 2019 Human Capital and Technology Summit, “Unlock the Secrets of Successful HR,” held April 11-12, 2019 on the FIU MMC campus. The conference was co-sponsored by the International Association for Human Resource Information Management (IHRIM) Florida and FIU Business’ Master of Science of Human Resource Management (MSHRM).
The summit put FIU Business’ HR program at the center of a dialogue on the profession’s hottest topics, with 112 HR practitioners, technology providers, academic researchers, and FIU alumni and students participating. In addition to South Florida, the event drew speakers and participants from throughout the U.S.
“We want to begin talking about technology beyond operations,” said Marc Weinstein, academic director of the MSHRM program, who led the development of the conference.
“HR has had great efficiencies from technology. But now, tech is being used in the value-added arena, and we want to come together and tackle these issues,” Weinstein said.
The opportunity to engage with a variety of audiences drew participation from leading HR technology firms, who shared their insights into how the workplace could be transformed.
“Technology can develop insights, but when it comes to reading insights, technology can’t compete with us as humans,” said Fabio Fukuda, vice president for HCM transformation at Oracle. He spoke at the evening welcome session, which featured a plenary “Ted Talk” with representatives of SAP, Workday, Ultimate Software and CWC in addition to Oracle.
Working with data to derive insights, and using the data to understand trends, was a key theme of the conference. Replacing gut-level decision making with evidence-based decisions was another.
“Behind the data, there are human beings,” Fukada said. “Be careful.”
Sharing a wide range of insights.
Conference content went well beyond dealing with data, with insights into everything from using a phone to make employee engagement videos, to building the HR connection to the C-suite.
Faculty members from FIU Business’ Department of Global Leadership and Management (GLAM), which houses the HR program, served as moderators of panel sessions, with topics including blockchain’s role in HR, the impact of surveys, assessing the need for new technologies, what skills would be needed by the HR professional of the future, and how technology enables HR.
Integral to the summit were opportunities to network and share meals during numerous breaks in the two-day event, giving HR professionals from throughout South Florida the opportunity to interact not only with each other, but with FIU faculty members and students.
Jonathan Ross, president of the Greater Miami Society for Human Resource Management, said the conference was a great opportunity to connect with technology experts, current and former HR students and other HR professionals.
“The format allowed us to learn about the innovation happening in the field without feeling as if we were being talked down to,” he said.
Noting the diversity of both speakers and subjects addressed, Mick Collins, chair of IHRIM Florida said, “It was refreshing to hear new points of view and have the audience participate fully in discussions of how to apply these concepts to their own careers.”
Focusing on the needs of students.
One of the key features of the two-day conference was a focus the needs of current MSHRM students. Both in-person and online student cohorts attended the session, providing an opportunity to network in person with faculty and online colleagues.
The second day closed with interactive sessions on building an HR career that was designed for current students and alumni. Panelists from Cummins Inc., an Indiana-based company ranked #148 in the most recent Fortune 500, as well as Apple, Royal Caribbean and Comcast, were among those who shared an insider’s look at how to succeed in the HR job market and position oneself for a promotion.
- Prepare multiple resumes. Different positions will want to see different skills. Have several resumes ready to send and modify them to jobs as needed.
- Get the AI right: in an era when artificial intelligence sorts through resumes, pick up at least 20 words in the job description that fit your skills and repeat them in your resume.
- Seek out the recruiter personally. Recruiters want to hear from candidates that have done their research, understand the company and are genuinely interested in working there.
- Don’t send cupcakes. When you’re approaching HR, think substance rather than flash. Skip the gimmicks and focus on how your skills meet the position.
Juan I. Sanchez, department chair of GLAM, said the conference was an example of turning a challenge for the program into an opportunity. Online MSHRM students, most of whom hold down full-time jobs and many of whom live outside of South Florida, had difficulty attending the program’s previous in-person residencies. Providing a comprehensive seminar proved to be a value-added experience for all involved.
“By turning this residency into an HR conference open to all MSHRM students, alumni, FIU undergrad students, and the South Florida HR community in general, the MSHRM team, led by Marc, hit a home-run,” he said.
Both in-person and online students appreciated the opportunity to meet colleagues and learn from each other. Ivonne Mustiga, a student in the online program, noted that the summit was filled with insightful information.
“This residency allowed us as grad students to interact with experts and presenters who provided information on how we can further our goals in HR and our careers,” she said. “It was such a fulfilling experience.”
Vanesia Moodie, an online student, also had high praise, calling it “the most meaningful and impactful summit I’ve ever experienced.”
“The guest speakers were true experts in the field of HR and IT, highlighting ways we can stay on top of the latest trends in the industry. There was not one person who didn’t learn something new…. even the guest speakers learned from each other,” she said.
Said department chair Sanchez: “I foresee this conference having the potential to become South Florida’s premiere conference on the integration of tech and HR.”