Tales from ATC2020 DIGITAL

Well here I am, a week after, big coffee on my desk and still trying to collate everything I’ve seen at the Australasian Talent Conference (ATC). 

I love this time of year, but as we all know this year is a little different. It is footy season, and we can’t go, it is school holidays, but they just went back to school and it is ATC season and I can’t go to Sydney to attend and visit my tribe. I have to say though, that the ATC team and wider community really rallied, built the event which will have between 400-600 attendees to an online juggernaut, at any one time there were over 900 people watching.

Kudos to all. It was a different experience, as I have mentioned online, the food wasn’t as good, the drinks were OK, but lacked the stimulating conversation that normally goes with them and I’m still waiting for someone to give me the wifi password. They would be my biggest concerns.

I am sitting here surrounded by notes, my laptop is flooded with screenshots my next challenge is to find a way to make sense of it all and channel the inspiration into something worthwhile.

I have been known to go through the conference topic by topic, speaker by speaker. I won’t this year as the content was so vast, well… no one would read for that long. That is just for the topics I watched, there is a whole treasure trove of information which I will hopefully get access to in the near future of the other rooms. Luckily my working hours are flexible and I am between bingeing Netflix series.

The details were well thought out and the majority of technical snafu’s were sorted. I struggled to work out the “Chat room” (could have been me as I am not the most technically proficient person in the world) but the chat is on the side of each presentation and the ability to ask questions when you thought of them not at the end of the presentation (and not having to put my hand up to do so) was one of the highlights for me. So many engaged people adding to the value the presenters were dropping.

“They really got all the juices flowing, the brain connected and the emotions on edge. Mykel Dixon was just spectacular.”

You get stuck in your own little Recruiting or Talent acquisition bubble easily enough so seeing people with different lenses, ideas and practices is worth the price of admission by itself.

Antonia Jennings (from Pegasystems) talking about changing Talent Acquisition to Talent Advisory was a great example of that. We all want TA to step up the corporate ladder a little, Antonia was able to articulate a method, a structure and proof that it is doable. Enlightening.

As if by design this was followed (for me) by Rebecca Houghton, one of the smartest HR/TA ladies I’ve met, with one of the most engaging and interesting presenting styles spoke about broadening your own career to give it the uplift you need to bring more value than purely supply (not that there is anything wrong with that).

These two sessions really made my brain tick, they were towards the end of day two, so my brain was already over ticking, this just moved it into meltdown.

I need some structure. The start to each day was magnificent. Starting with the “welcome to country” addresses to Mykel Dixon talking and a wonderfully crafted video, the entree was worthy of the main meal. They really got all the juices flowing, the brain connected and the emotions on edge. Mykel Dixon was just spectacular. I had never heard him before but his poetic style had me glued to my Chromebook and set the scene, and let us not forget the sign-a-long video from Melbourne Health. I think there was many an ATC living room getting some tears sprinkled on the floor.

A few key themes kept appearing, increasing my curiosity and now need to learn more. Glen Cathey, as always “wowed” everyone (well everyone where I was sitting anyways). His knowledge as a sourcer is second to none but his ability to look at new ways of thinking and adapt to our profession, blows my mind. His discussion around Deep learning, AI, chatbots with the rider that we still need some level of human interaction will stick with me, probably cemented with the fact that he appealed to my inner juvenile in me calling the Randstad bot, Randy. Randy 24*7 made me giggle.

Katrina Collier hit my screen soon after, always thought provoking “In a world of Technical overload, who is really winning?” Buyers market, sellers market? Is it easier for candidates or businesses? A circular conversation which really depended on your point of view as to where the winner would lie.

“Human Centered Design, Transformations to an agile way of working were heavily featured too, so really cool things being worked on. It raised lots of questions, gave some answers and looked pretty cool.”

A big focus of the conference was Diversity and Inclusion, the business reasons behind it and how to really integrate this into your business beyond pure tokenism. The conversations around this topic started to broaden my mind. I like to think I am open-minded, some of these chats had the ability to make me feel uncomfortable a little, to question myself. This can only be a good thing. Right?

Human-Centred Design, Transformations to an agile way of working were heavily featured too, so really cool things being worked on. It raised lots of questions, gave some answers and looked pretty cool. 

However, the underlying theme to these transformations seemed to be the people. Not the people within the business but the candidates. The candidate experience is something very topical at the moment, probably driven even more by the amount of Recruiters out of work and actually seeing how poor lots of systems are in dealing with this. I feel that this is an area, post-Covid, which will really take off. The count down is definitely on.

Alastair Schirmer coined the phrase I enjoyed the most in the conference, the “OODA loop.” I’d never heard that before and it is really fun to say. If I can use it in context I’ll seem really smart I think – “Observe, Orient, Decide, Act”. I know I can do it!

If you are a TA nerd and love a session on Market mapping and sourcing, then the session from Martin Warren and Simon Townsend would really excite you. (no offence guys, I mean that with love) I am, it did. The detail, the thought process the depth that they utilise to build market maps is extraordinary.

Bill Boorman. I think it is hard to have a Rec conference and not to mention this guy. An old mate of mine, but he has forgotten more about the topic of Recruitment than most of us actually know. He surprised us all by actually showing us (by accident) what is under his hat. That thing never comes off. A highlight for me.

Bill thinks not just outside the box, but way beyond the country the box is actually in. He is tracking data, he is using technology, he is feeding the rough sleepers and spoke to us from his car at 1.30 am, not just out of the pub as we would normally expect, but from finishing feeding people.

A wonderful speaker, a great person and if you get a chance to see what he was talking about. Take it! He spoke again about the movement away from an “employee value proposition” towards an “Individual value proposition”. It resonated with me, and something I need to keep front of mind.

The break out sessions of yoga, pilates, Dave Carman reinforcing learning and Paul Jacobs being Paul Jacobs were great touches.

The vendors/sponsors were an eclectic group. I met companies who were new to me. It was awesome to see so much great home grown innovation getting involved in our talent community. It is inspiring. If only I had technical nous or a budget. Watching this with my TalentVine hat on, I got the feeling we were in great company. Everyone trying to make the function better.

If you can talk Trevor Vas, Jo Vohland and the team into getting a look at the presentations if you weren’t part of the conference, it is well worth the effort.

I’d like to congratulate the ATC team, thank them for hosting and persisting to deliver something I won’t quickly forget.

Oh look a puppy….

This article first appeared on TalentVine blog on 29 June 2020.

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