This year’s CIPD Ireland Student Conference was focused on empowering the next generation of HR leaders. Our opening address came from Mary Connaughton, Director of CIPD Ireland who introduced the theme of the day and shared some valuable insights and trends in HR practices in Ireland.

In an ever-changing industry, Mary noted the new drivers of change within the world of HR, and the emergence of continuously advanced technologies in the form of artificial intelligence, robotics and the human-machine relationship. Sharing research from the World Economic Forum, Mary shared the key skills we need for the coming years, and also addressed how CIPD’s new Profession Map has been shaped by this vision for the future.

Mary also revealed some of CIPD Ireland’s key findings from their HR Practices Survey which detailed many key areas from the skills shortage to employee engagement, also paying due attention to the ongoing issue of the Gender Pay Gap.

Building on this introduction of the topic from Mary, Senator Ivana Bacik was up next, to discuss the behind-the-scenes work which has brought the Gender Pay Gap legislation to the fore, here in Ireland.

Senator Bacik, who initially drove this topic in to the spotlight of Irish legislature, shared the journey that she and the legislators have been on, in progressing the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill to where it is today. Ahead of International Women’s Day, this session was as timely as it was engaging, and very well-received by the audience.

Next up, were CIPD Ireland HR Award winners, ESB, presenting their ‘Journey to 'check-in' at One Dublin Airport Central.’ This huge project, which saw the ESB HR navigate an office move from Stephen’s Green to Dublin Airport, was an award-winning example of change management and an inspiring story of collaboration across all levels of the business.

Mary Mangan, HR Consultant at ESB, showed attendees the power of Neuroscience in business, and how ESB used this to leverage the power of their people to drive success on this project. Joyce Farrell, Senior International HR Manager, guided us through the projects implementation and success, while Ollie Brogan, Managing Director of ESB, concluded this session with his learnings and tips from a top-level perspective.

And before breaking for lunch, we were delighted to welcome our panel of CIPD HR Award Rising Star finalists, to share their advice and tips for the students and early career professionals. 

Marcie Green (HR Business Partner, The Taxback Group), Rebecca Connolly (HR Generalist, Callan Bacon), and Claire Walsh (Associate HR Business Partner, Zendesk) discussed their experiences to date, and how to build a career in HR. A hugely interactive and engaging session, this provided attendees with many takeaways to apply to their own journeys in HR.

Returning from the break, we were joined by Stephanie Atkinson, HR Director European Functions & Culture Change Lead at Kelloggs.

Stephanie guided attendees through the journey that Kelloggs undertook to transform their culture, including an exceptional quote from Peter Drucker, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” This carefully-structured and well-mapped grass roots project was hugely informative and again proved to be a highly popular insight in to the work of such a major brand.

EY were our next company to present, as Caroline McAniff, Head of Employer Brand & Recruitment, and Enda Daly, Recruitment Manager, detailed the project which saw them win this year’s Talent Management category at the CIPD Ireland HR Awards. 

In October 2015, EY set out on a 3 year project to build their employer brand and transform candidate experience, to attract better talent, and through innovation, give them the best possible candidate experience. Caroline and Enda gave our attendees detailed and engaging insights in to the major success of this project, another well-received insider guide to the achievements of a well-established business. 

Concluding the first half of the afternoon, was Loughlin Deegan, Partner at ByrneWallace. His exceptionally-titled “From banded hours to Brexit” employment law session gave our students and early career professionals a well-received update in to legislative changes in the HR space.

Another very engaging and interactive session, which drew many questions from our audience.

Breaking up the afternoon with some activities to get everyone energised and out of their comfort zone, was Niall Ronan, Founder of Titan Wellness, and former Ireland, Munster and Leinster rugby player. With everything from trust falls to dance-offs, this quick session gave everyone a boost before the final segment of the day.

Building on the energy on the room, Rory O’ Connor, Senior Account Manager at LinkedIn, gave our attendees some tips on how to win at social engagement, and how to rock their LinkedIn profiles to all-star status.

Detailing the journey from passive member to employee, to brand ambassador, Rory provided great hints and strategies on how HR professionals can maximise their success on LinkedIn.

And last but not least, our final session of the day was brought to us by Tony Vickers-Byrne, Chief Adviser HR Practice at CIPD. Tony’s reflective and heart-warming session on the role HR in the development of truly compassionate leadership, shared insights on everything from wellbeing and absenteeism, to leadership strategy and staff retention.

Closing with the importance of staff voice, Tony’s presentation provided a light-hearted and thoughtful end to a terrific day all-round.

We had dynamic range of speakers from across varying sectors and their bios can be download below:

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