A Recruiter in Blockhouse Bay

I’ve waited a week or so before writing my wrap up for the day at the inaugural #nzlead unconference last week as I didn’t want to compete with blogs which were very likely to be much better than mine and I also needed to let my sunburn abate to a comfort level where I could type freely once again.

Like most other people who attended – I really didn’t know what to expect from Amanda Sterling’s creation which in her usual manner was different, creative and pushed people’s thinking and expectations into a totally different direction. My only experience of conferences has been in corporate style conference centres or hotels where you generally don’t get any fresh air for the best part of 10 hours and you know the agenda, speakers and order of service weeks in advance. By the end of the day my concentration levels have usually nose-dived to the point where I struggle to stay upright in my seat.

So once I saw the weather forecast for the day however, I can honestly say I was really looking forward to getting outside in the fresh air to meet new people, reconnect with some established contacts and learn a whole heap about where the HR profession is.

I thought I would be an outsider as I am a recruiter, as I don’t technically work in HR. It’s always a good health-check to see what the HR profession honestly thinks of us external recruiters of course. From what I could gather I was one of three external recruiters with the bulk of attendees understandably being in ‘hands-on’ HR roles or HR management roles. But I can honestly say that not at any point did I feel like I was ‘on the outside looking in’.

Here are a few of my thoughts in good old bullet-point summary format:

The location and style of event: Personally, I thought it was awesome. I found the more relaxed setting made me relax more and I didn’t feel like I was ‘on show’ as I have felt at other conferences. The scout hut and surrounding rural area chilled everyone out and like a good interview – the more relaxed you are, the more you get out of it. We even had wifi shipped in for the day.

The ‘unconference format’: I liked the idea of this as there was no set agenda – just a few starting points to develop sub-categories, or ‘tracks’ from. The reality was mixed for me. I liked the fact that we could engage nearly all day so no long periods of listening to one speaker. I did however feel like I missed out on a lot of good stuff that was discussed in the other tracks. Maybe in the future the track leaders can put a blog together between them summarising the outcomes of their track?

The catering (always the most important category for me by far): Amanda absolutely nailed this in every possible way. Healthy, light food (with a few treats thrown in if you want), no set meal times as such. Help yourself to tea/coffee, water and juice throughout the day and home brew by @kiwirevo (Amanda’s husband) at the end of the day. The kids also enjoyed their healthy leftover for lunches for two days afterwards.

The team kit: jeans, chucks and t-shirt (supplied by Amanda): Awesome. I even wear the t-shirt casually which I never do with free stu

ff you get from events. It’s a really cool design.

Value for money: Compared to the price tag of other conferences – this was exceptionally good value. I know it wasn’t about the money necessarily for Amanda as this was a big day in the ongoing building of the #nzlead community. But it was really good value.

The general ‘feel’ of the HR profession: Admittedly the people there were those who are genuinely interested and engaged in taking the HR profession forward. The point was made several times that it’s the people who weren’t there that provide many of the challenges in terms of creating opportunities for HR as a profession to evolve and grow. On the whole though, the energy, creativity, passion, humour and down-right down-to-earth approach of virtually everyone there left me feeling refreshed, positive and confident that the path that Amanda and others like her are treading is the right path for the HR profession to tread.

Overall my message to Amanda: Job spectacularly well done. I know you put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into organising the day and I think it certainly exceeded the expectations of all who attended. More of the same please next year



And I’ve not even mentioned social media once ….

Can you guess which feet are mine??