Meet the #SHRM18 Bloggers

Meet the #SHRM18 Bloggers

HR thought leaders share their insights on everything from how HR is shaping work to where to get the best hot dog in Chicago.

Christina Folz By Christina Folz May 16, 2018

​This year, more than 60 HR practitioners, educators and business owners will not only blog about SHRM’s Annual Conference & Exposition in Chicago, but will also help shape the profession through their words and influence. Learn more about the individuals who are expanding HR’s world in this special section, in which members of the blog squad share their insights on everything from how to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace, to where to get a good slice of deep-dish pizza in Chicago. For the full list of bloggers, and where to find them on Twitter, visit Also, be sure to follow the #SHRM18 hashtag on social media for more blogger hot takes—before, during and after the big event.

Worlds Are Expanding

When the bloggers were asked how HR pros can succeed in 2018 and beyond by “expanding their world”—the theme of #SHRM18—their responses fell into a few categories: 

Be future-focused. “We need to be able to look beyond our current day-to-day responsibilities and why HR has historically existed and begin to anticipate what our roles should and will be as the world of work evolves,” says Jennifer Payne, SHRM-SCP, HR manager at Tops Markets in the Buffalo, N.Y., area and editor of the Women in HR blog.

Know the business. “I cannot emphasize this enough: Know as much as you can about your employer’s business, including its products and services, compliance concerns, and culture,” says employment attorney Jonathan Segal with Duane Morris in Philadelphia. “I bristle when I hear the term ‘HR business partner.’ We don’t say ‘accounting business partner.’ [It should be] ‘HR partner’—full stop.”

Get uncomfortable. “There’s an old quote that says, ‘Do something that makes you uncomfortable every day,’ ” says HR pro turned consultant Sharlyn Lauby, creator of the blog HR Bartender. “HR professionals can expand their world by investing in themselves and putting new skills to work.” Being curious is a great way to jump-start your own learning. Or, in the words of Renee Robson, a performance and capability manager at Widex in Melbourne, Australia, it’s about “constantly asking, ‘What is it I don’t know?’ ” 

Build broad networks. “Twenty years ago, when I was early in my career in HR, I was focused only on my company and my HR team. That was a mistake,” says Trish McFarlane, author of the HR Ringleader blog, who adds that cultivating relationships with HR and business professionals from different organizations was key to her development. Huntsville, Ala.-based HR assistant Jazmine Wilkes agrees: “Networking is no longer the 5:30 cocktail [party] where people try to sell themselves to you for an hour—and, if it is, you’re in the wrong room.”

‘Diversity in this world keeps me up at night, or maybe I should say the lack of diversity. Too many people in charge don’t value every human life; too many are in leadership roles simply because of their name, and not what they’ve done for an organization. By the same token, too many people are in leadership roles because of money being thrown at the higher-ups. Diversity isn’t as difficult as we make it out to be, and HR does hold some responsibility for this problem.’

—Jazmine Wilkes, Huntsville, Ala.

What To Do In Chicago...

If you’re headed to #SHRM18—or just planning a visit to Chicago—
consider making a stop at one of these blogger-recommended landmarks.

Wrigley Field 1060 W Addison St.

The Second City Improv Troupe 1616 N Wells St.

Portillo’s hot dogs 100 W Ontario St.

Architectural River Boat Tour 112 E Upper Wacker Dr.

Cloud Gate “The Bean” In Millennium Park

Navy Pier

Garrett’s Popcorn 27 Jackson Blvd

​Deep-dish pizza at Giordano’s 1340 S Michigan Ave

Michael Jordan’s Statue 1901 W Madison St

​Click for a detailed map

...and What Not to Miss at #SHRM18

“Sheryl Sandberg. Sheryl Sandberg. Sheryl Sandberg. Did I mention Sheryl Sandberg?” 
—Jonathan Segal, Duane Morris, Philadelphia 

“I love the Smart Stage. The presentations are smart, sharp, well-constructed and over in less than 20 minutes. What’s not to like?” 
—Mark Fogel, SHRM-SCP, Human Capital 3.0, greater New York City

“Steve Browne, Joe Gerstandt and Jennifer McClure remain the freedom fighters of the volunteer HR tribe who are committed to ensuring people leave their sessions inspired to make an impact on their organizations.” 
—Dave Kovacovich, BI Worldwide, San Francisco

“I’m a big fan of early morning ‘rise and shine’ sessions. A couple have caught my eye: ‘Surfing the Silver Tsunami’ and ‘Playing Politics: The Psychology of Getting Things Done.’ I’ll be the one in the back of the room with a venti dirty chai. LOL!” 
—Sharlyn Lauby, author of the HR Bartender blog

‘I believe the fundamental purpose of HR is to help others. If you’re in this field, you have the opportunity to change lives for the better. I’m talking about listening to the needs of others and finding ways we can help them unlock their potential, both personally and professionally. To intentionally set out to do good for others. To see potential in someone, even when they don’t, and help lift them up to achieve something wonderful. When we do this, we become leaders.’

—Christopher Orozco, Win-River Resort & Casino, Redding, Calif.

HR by Any Other Name

​Our bloggers weigh in on the best name for the function currently known as HR.

It’s About People, People

People Partnering. 
—Renee Robson, Widex, Melbourne, Australia 

People Strategy. “Everything we do affects people as critical resources for the company.” 

—Kelly Marinelli, SHRM-SCP, Solve HR Inc., Boulder, Colo.

People Acumen. “It’s all been about having a strong acumen as it relates to people and their behavior. ‘Human resources’ still conjures thoughts of compliance, policy creation and being the ‘people police.’ ” 

—Trish McFarlane, author of the HR Ringleader blog, St. Louis

People Operations. “It’s easy to separate HR from the rest of the business (marketing, IT, engineering, etc.), but HR is truly an operation and just as important as any other department.” 

—Claire Petrie, Remedy Intelligent Staffing, Buffalo, N.Y. 

People Experience. 
—Ben Watts, Watts Next, Queensland, Australia

People Services. “I think what we do with and for people is more important than what we call ourselves. We need to spend more effort and energy attending to what we accomplish with, through and for others.” 
—Melanie Peacock, Double M Training & Consulting, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, area 

People. “Very simple. I firmly believe that artificial intelligence, bots and other automation will enable HR to be more human, not less, by taking away some of the repetitive tasks and allowing higher-touch HR.” 
—Ben Eubanks, Lighthouse Research, Huntsville, Ala.

It’s a Human Thing 

Human Capital. “We need to value humans as much as we value money. You need capital; resources are often optional.” 
—Jonathan Segal, Duane Morris, Philadelphia

Department of Human Enablement. 
—Paul Hebert, Creative Group Inc., Huntsville, Ala.

Human Resources. “I don’t have a problem with the name as it stands, although I view it from the perspective that we are resources for the humans we serve rather than that we manage the humans as resources of an organization.” 
—Kristina Minyard, SHRM-SCP, Ignite Education, Huntsville, Ala.

Other Monikers

Workforce Solutions. 

—Lina Le, SHRM-SCP, Y. Hata & Co. Ltd., Honolulu

Organizational Leadership or Employee Relationships. “I believe leadership and HR must be aligned, and everything we do should be built on the relationships we cultivate.” 

—Christopher Orozco, Win-River Resort & Casino, Redding, Calif.

Performance Empowerment. “I think we are the catalysts for encouraging the best work to drive business results.” 

—Jennifer Payne, SHRM-SCP, Tops Markets,  Buffalo, N.Y., area

The Conscience of Your Organization. “But seriously, I don’t think we need a name change.” 

—Mark Fogel, SHRM-SCP, Human Capital 3.0, greater New York City

HR and #MeToo: Where Do We Go From Here?

In recent months, HR has become a target of criticism for not doing enough to address sexual harassment in the workplace. We asked the bloggers: Is this a fair critique? What more should HR do? Here’s what they had to say:

“Most of the criticism of HR is, in my view, misplaced. Not every HR practitioner is strong, but that’s true in every profession. You don’t read about the thousands of cases where HR delivers prompt and proportional corrective action. In other instances, HR fails because senior leaders don’t value it. 

I believe the actual and perceived value of HR will increase as a result of #MeToo. And HR is more likely to be effective if it looks not only at compliance but also culture, as SHRM CEO Johnny Taylor has emphasized repeatedly and correctly.” 

—Jonathan Segal

“HR must partner with leadership to create and maintain an atmosphere of trust and transparency. And when our leaders refuse to lead, we must be ready and willing to speak truth to power.”  

—Kelly Marinelli, SHRM-SCP

“Sure, some HR departments are not transparent or supportive. But others do their part. If people don’t come forward, HR can’t read their minds. It is our society that holds victims back from telling their stories. #MeToo was a vehicle of confidence. I’m glad it worked for those who didn’t feel they had a voice.”
—Lina Le, SHRM-SCP

“While it saddens me that poorly executed HR saddles all of HR with this critique, I must say I think it’s 100 percent fair. HR should be viewed as a department that gets things done and that can be trusted with sensitive issues. We must hold each other accountable to this standard to help the profession move forward.” 
—Kristina Minyard, SHRM-SCP

‘While it may sound like a contradiction, the most important way to expand your world is to make it smaller! What do I mean by this? It’s about the importance of making meaningful and personal connections to others. By forming these deep and empowering relationships (i.e., making your world smaller), you actually open up opportunities to learn with and from others, thereby expanding your competencies, knowledge and world. The power of connection through interpersonal relationships is a passion of mine.’ 

—Melanie Peacock, Double M Training & Consulting, Calgary area, Alberta, Canada

Who's Your Hero?

The breakdown of who most inspires the blog squad.

My father was a big believer of personal integrity and doing things right the first time. He taught me so many values that are key in HR.                                                                           
—Andrew Marcotte, SHRM-CP

My grandma taught me everything I know about being fierce and confident.                       
—Kristina Minyard, SHRM-SCP

My daughter has broken through stereotypes women of my generation were saddled with. She’s a civil engineer making her way in what used to be a male-only field.                  —Mark Fogel, SHRM-SCP

I left one of our NASHRM luncheons at which Heather Kinzie, SHRM-SCP, COO of The Strive Group, spoke knowing without a shadow of a doubt that I was in the right career.  
—Jazmine Wilkes

Patrick Lencioni changed management by being brave enough to look at areas other executives and consultants thought were beneath them, including vulnerability, humility and the power of asking questions.       
—Ben Watts

Joan Hukari was my HR mentor and the best boss I ever had. She is the reason why I chose HR, why I am certified and why I am always willing to help a fellow practitioner.     
—Gemma Toth

Boxer James J. Braddock, aka “Cinderella Man,” fought to provide for his family during the Great Depression. After winning the championship, he returned to the welfare office to repay his debts. 
—Ben Eubanks

Because of the leadership of President Barack Obama, I was able to marry my husband and our union was legally recognized on a federal level. 
—Anthony Paradiso

With passion, persistence, dignity and intelligence, Martin Luther King Jr. changed our world for the better.
—Jonathan Segal

Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, fought tirelessly for years to make sure sexual violence was addressed at the community level. 
—Anne Tomkinson

The courage and grit that Helen Keller had to draw on to succeed against so many odds are unfathomable. 
—Kelly Marinelli, SHRM-SCP

Baby on Board

‘The founders of Invisalign weren’t dentists. Uber wasn’t created by taxi drivers. Airbnb wasn’t created by hoteliers. And yet now they dominate their industries after completely upending them.

The digital disruption means that everyone’s specialty is at risk of being toppled by someone else who doesn’t necessarily know your business and industry well. But it turns out that’s an advantage, because they’re not constrained by the same limitations you place on yourself.’

—Renee Robson, Widex, Melbourne, Australia

Not a Quick Fix

‘This is why I don’t write as much about employee engagement anymore.

I don’t want to be complicit in fertilizing the kudzu of “thought leadership” around employee engagement choking out true value.

If there is an executive who isn’t working on engagement in their organization, then they don’t deserve my content and, truth be told, they are probably actively ignoring engagement to boost some selfish financial measure.

Bottom line: Another article pointing out the benefits of engagement isn’t going to change anything. Until the corporate world understands that engagement is a manager issue focused on one-on-one human connections and NOT a system or software solution, we will continue to push this rock up the hill. And I’ll continue to shake my head when someone publishes another groundbreaking tome on why only purple M&Ms drive true engagement.’

—Ben Eubanks, Lighthouse Research, Huntsville, Ala.



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