This year’s Human Resource Summit was held over 2 days from 19th to 20th May. It hosted a myriad of themes with five different breakout sessions: HR, Talent, Retention, Strategy and C-Suite. Much discussion was dedicated towards shifting company policies to align to what Generation Y wants. In fact, Gen Y was a topic of keen interest throughout the Summit, and it comes as no surprise as Gen Y employees are projected to make up 75% of the workforce by 2030. Other subjects discussed included workplace culture and how to create a global workforce, as well as the restructuring and redefinition of the HR function in companies.
As a student, attending the HR Summit was not only humbling, it was also an eye-opening experience. “It was a very good experience because I got to understand and listen to stories on what Human Resources was like in the real world,” said Siew Ming from DHRMP 04. The sentiment was shared by her classmate, Chun Hua, who said, “The experience we have gotten from the HR Summit was certainly an eye-opener; it get me interested in joining the HR world in the future.”
It was not just two days of constant exposure to knowledge but rather two days of experiencing how the terminologies we had read off our lecture notes came alive through the various keynote speakers, and how the entire concept map of all the HR functions fell into place. Many such concepts were articulated skilfully by the various keynote speakers, such as there would be no employee retention if the performance management system and career progression path were not already well-established; and that there would be no successful recruitment and retention outcomes without good company branding.
The centre of the convention centre was designated for companies to set up exhibition booths and promote their various areas of skills/expertise. There were over 130 booths with a vast majority dedicated to Human Resource Information Systems that were going to revolutionise the way information would be stored, accessed and used. Many of the systems were able to churn out statistical data that would empower companies to spearhead new projects to enhance their policies and solve pertinent issues in their companies.
There were also many companies that could provide training and development solutions for staff. Some of the solutions were able to analyse employee competencies and provide advice on how to build up the perfect team. In fact, the rapid growth of such companies could be linked to the shift in HR demographics – more Gen Y employees in the workplaces. A study by the Asian Institute of Finance reported that Gen Y employees placed teamwork as their third highest factor when looking for a suitable working environment. With the increased emphasis on collaboration and teamwork, companies would be looking at building effective teams at their workplaces.
There was also an interesting blend of start-up companies that were trying to revamp the way HR management was looked at. For instance, Gametize, a newly established company, undertook it as their mission to impart knowledge to working adults in a fun way.
Most of us were impressed by what the booths could offer. Isabel Chan commented that “the booths were nice, the people really tried to capture our attention actively; their presentations were also very well thought through and informational”. Some companies went all out for us students to gain relevant knowledge. Claira Goh from DHRMP 04 said, “We managed to find out more about certain companies that we were interested in. One company took down my name and email address to send me more details about their way of doing business and recommended internship programmes for me.”
In a nutshell, the HR Summit had equipped us with relevant knowledge before we stepped into the workplace. Cindy Lee stated that she “gained insights from the HR experts at the Summit; outside of what we had learnt in school.” Some students, including Lim Wei Ting, felt that they had “learnt how to give an impactful presentation” and praised the speakers. “It is not easy, the presenters had done a really good job,” she added.
Truly, the speakers at the event were very friendly, and the students had numerous opportunities to interact with them. My group mates and I, for instance, were fortunate enough to bump into Ms. Wendy Axelrod, a keynote speaker from the Talent Room. She provided us with beneficial insights and taught us to look at our problems from various perspectives. Such networking opportunities were rare to chance upon, and we were grateful to learn from someone who had so much experience and expertise in the industry. Joey Kwan from DHRMP 04 stated that it was a “great experience - it provided us with a rare opportunity to not only listen to what the HR professionals have to share but also get to speak to them personally.”
All in all, the HR Summit was an exciting event that broadened our knowledge about the industry. More importantly, it catalysed a great respect for the impact HRM had on the business world. As Isabel sums up perfectly, “It was very interesting to meet HR people who shared the same passion as we did and most importantly, I learnt to appreciate the course we are taking.”