Each year, students from MSc Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations and MSc International Human Resource Management and Comparative Industrial Relations can participate in a two-day conference which offers them the chance to meet industry professionals. This year the Conference took place virtually with two panel discussions.
This year's panellists included representatives from Barclays, Fujitsu, PwC, CIPD, Liverpool John Moores University, Making Space Charity and Alliance Manchester Business School. Each session was followed by a Q&A led by the HR Student Representatives, Kaitlyn Wang, Antonello Bellanova and Ziwei Liu.
We recently caught up with HR Student Representatives Antonello Bellanova and Kaitlyn Wang, Class of 2021, on their experience at the Conference this year.
What did the conference cover?
"The conference covered a wide variety of topics. Essentially we started by discussing the impact of COVID-19 on the people profession and effective strategies to manage people in a time of disruption and uncertainty. Other topics covered were the disruptive impact of technology and A.I., whether or not it will replace people for certain jobs, inside and outside HR.
"We also covered some of the issues related to remote working arrangements, the opportunities and limitations and how to combine such working arrangements with people's needs and wellbeing inside the workplace. Then there has also been a section where we have spoken about practical advice to approach the job market and in general, the shift that students may face from university to full-time work.”
What were your top 3 highlights?
"1. The best advice when facing the situation of managing uncertainty is to make/nurture connections and build relationships with people. Networking building is very important and I have extended my network and made connections with all HR professionals on LinkedIn.
"2. Soft skills are becoming absolutely essential for the workforce of today and indeed tomorrow, it is increasingly becoming the hard skills. Abilities that employers are looking for are communication skills, building relationships, adaptability, leadership skills, know how to motivate others, managing boundaries, working intensification and etc.
"3. Resilience is the key. Life doesn't get easier especially at the moment (Covid-19), but we need to take every advantage to learn everything possible and become stronger and more resilient.”
"1. The link shared by Gemma Dale about the possibility that robots will 'steal' our job: https://willrobotstakemyjob.com/
"2. The advice provided by Samantha Lubanzu on speaking in 'financial and quantitative terms' to be more persuasive as HR professionals inside the company. Also, to highlight the potential 'if not' financial loss, in the sense that, for instance, 'if we don’t implement this HR policy, X will happen and it will cause serious financial harm of 'n pounds' to the organisation’.
"3. Lastly, even if in general there have been incredible insights by every guest speaker, I would say that I particularly liked the general focus on HR professionals in this time of crisis. If during the 2008 financial crisis CFOs were the 'heroes' of the company, during humanitarian or a public health crisis such as COVID-19, the role played by CHRO and HR Managers shines brightly and reminds everyone about the importance of having an excellent and reliable HR department inside an organisation.”
How was your experience at the conference and leading the Q&A?
"This was my first time chairing a conference like this and I think it was a valuable experience. I learned how to properly manipulate the flow and pace of the whole meeting, I also learned to make sure that every speaker is involved and engaged in the discussion, and keeping track of the time during the meeting to ensure to finish on time. Another important meeting chairing skill I have gained is to adapt the order of subsequent questions according to the answers given by the speakers in order to ensure a smooth flow between two questions.”
"It has been my first time leading a Q&A conference, especially the first time engaging with so many successful HR professionals. Kaitlyn and I really worked hard to manage the meeting and plan the questions ahead by also being aware of pressing time limitations.
"We planned and created the questions based on the specific work background and interests of each and every speaker. We also thought about the importance of creating a positive, warm and at-ease environment, where everyone spontaneously joins and participates. I must stress that we received outstanding feedback from guest speakers, University stakeholders and fellow students. For this reason, we have been incredibly happy, because, in the end, our hard work and preparation has paid off.
"The idea of the meeting itself is outstanding and I cannot thank enough Rebecca Roberts and Joanna Hughes for organising it, also I thank Jenny Rodriguez and Becca for giving us the amazing opportunity of leading the conference. It meant a lot for our professional growth both as student reps and as future HR professionals. The final promise that we made to our guest speakers? 'Next time as colleagues!'”