There are moments in life that you anticipate with great joy and fear: graduation, marriage, the birth of a child, a big promotion or a trip to a foreign country. Last week, I had the opportunity to experience traveling to China for the first time, and it certainly turned out to be one of those great moments of a lifetime.
I was invited to speak at the first HR Technology China conference presented by LRP Publications and China Star. The anxious feeling I had in anticipation of the trip and during the 22 hours of travel led to a great release of adrenaline when I finally landed in Hong Kong. With friendly, welcoming faces of industry leaders Madeline Laurano and Steve Boese to greet me, I was ready to experience all that China had to offer.
This was the first event put on by LRP and China Star ,and the results were nothing short of amazing. Held in mainland China in the city of Zhuhai, the trip from Hong Kong via ferry boat was invigorating. As I looked out at the Hong Kong – Zhuhai – Macao Bridge (HZMB) being constructed in the waters of Lingdingyang of Pearl River Estuary, I began to appreciate the development of the region. As far as the conference goes, with nearly 6,000 registrants mostly comprised of HR practitioners and leaders, the energy was palpable.
As I, along with a handful of speakers from the US, settled in to meeting the China Star team, we were amazed at the level of interest they had in our being at the event. We quickly learned that the formality of the relationship between the HR vendor, the event and the Zhuhai government officials was a close knit one. Several of us were invited to a special meeting with Liu Jiawen (Vice Mayor of Zhuhai), Wang Qingli (Vice Mayor of Zhuhai), Hua Fuzhou (President of China Association for Labor Studies), and many other important dignitaries of the Zhuhai municipal government. It was an honor to be welcomed and the experience was filmed and photographed for their local news. Quite exciting!
From there, it was a whirlwind of dinners, presentations, then then the main conference. Steve Boese welcomed everyone on behalf of LRP and kicked off the new event. The keynotes, including one by our industry expert Jason Averbook, were nothing short of inspired. The other keynote presentations, including one by former US Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, were filled with passion for HR, data, and the importance of technology. The realization that the Chinese hold HR in high regard, as many of us do here in the US, was a revelation. Some of the commonalities were the focus on:
- Talent Acquisition- Finding the best hires for an emerging market that is becoming more services dominated is a key priority.
- Branding– Employer branding that goes hand-in-hand with the extensive branding of the cities themselves is a focus. The combination made for an interesting juxtaposition. I believe that US organizations who embrace this approach may find an easier time with recruiting for either hard to fill positions or for staffing in cities that may have had a less desirable past.
- Engagement- Engaging employees is important globally. As I learned in the Middle East at the end of 2015, and in Europe and China in 2016, this remains one of the top concerns for business leaders, not just HR leaders. This tells me there is still a great opportunity for HR leaders, vendors, consultants and analysts when it comes to finding solutions to this age-old problem.
I shared with you the innovative, hard-working and proud side of the people I met in China in my earlier post about coaching. From the way this event incorporated students to the way they embraced all of us from the US, HR Technology Conference China gave the impression that it will be around for years to come.
As an added bonus, I was able to spend a few days in Hong Kong visiting local markets, restaurants, and stores. I was even lucky enough to spend a day at Disneyland Hong Kong! For anyone who knows me, Disney is one of my favorite places, so being able to see the Chinese version was just amazing!
I encourage you to follow the HR Technology Conference here in the US for more information about China next year. It is worth making a business case for, or for investing in your own career and making the trip.
Thanks again to LRP Publications, Rebecca McKenna, Steve Boese and the whole LRP team. Thank you also to China Star for the gracious hosting. Lastly, thank you to my US based HCM colleagues for making my first trip to China a memorable one.