Chicago: My Kind of Town

I love Chicago.  Between the museums, the water, the people and Topolobampo (one of my very favorite eateries ever), it is a city that I always look forward to leaving, just so I can look forward to coming back.

This year, I’m heading to the area (Oakbrook, specifically) for the 12th Annual Illinois HR Conference & Exposition August 21-23.  And while I will be presenting, I’ve heard me speak enough that I no longer consider myself to be part of my target audience.  But there is an incredible lineup at this event, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t share a little about the company I will be keeping.

I have had the pleasure of meeting many of the speakers and session leaders, and I can attest that they are all scintillating people.  But while I look forward to seeing them again and sharing witty banter and basking in their brilliance, I am drawn more to topics than the speakers.  Specifically, there are two sessions that I am really pleased to not be scheduled against.  Because honestly, if I were, I might skip my own session to listen to these.

Keynote: HR Wake Up CallChina Gorman
China’s strong belief that HR professionals are stronger and more effective business leaders than they are given credit for is based on 30 years as a business leader in the talent management sector. She’ll shine a light on the business savvy and expertise the audience currently possesses and builds a foundation for acting with greater leadership confidence.

That’s the conference marketing talking.  Here’s my take.

China is one of the sharpest sticks on the tree.  I’m willing to take leadership from her whenever I can.  But what I am really looking forward to here is that I know China to be a positive and driven leader, so I don’t expect to hear a lot of “HR is broken!” nonsense from her.  What I expect to hear are the ways HR has evolved, and how that makes our profession uniquely qualified to do some really great things.  It’s not about what’s wrong.  It’s about all the things that are very, very right.  And aside from that, any time I get to listen to China, it’s a win.  You’ll leave supercharged.

Concurrent Session: Uncharted Territory: Exploring the Dilemmas of Social Media – William Tincup

This is one of my favorite topics of conversation, and there are few people that can bring it like William.  I wrote a piece recently about the new layers of relationships with vendors and consultants, and have been fascinated with how slowly businesses catch up to changes in our environment.  With social media driving many of those changes, it demands that we stop and think about what it means to us, how we address it, and how we ensure we get the most out of these tools without putting ourselves, or our businesses, in harm’s way.  I expect this will be a great session for those who like to flex their critical thinking muscles from time to time, and I fully anticipate leaving with some answers, but also some really great questions.

While I am excited to see these two topics brought to life, it by no means should imply the other sessions are somehow lacking.  You can click here to see the entire list of keynote and concurrent sessions.  There’s not a bad seat in the house.

I am thrilled to be a small part of this amazing lineup, and giddy about getting to attend the sessions being offered.  If you are anywhere nearby, makes sure this is on your to-do list.  And if you make it, I hope you’ll stop in and say hello!



  1. Thanks Dwane, but plenty of people are looking forward to your session as well.

    • There’s so much good stuff in the lineup, I might not even show up for my own session. But I guess if anyone wants to hear it, I’ll share what I know. 🙂

  2. I’m collecting all the ways that I’m being described in conjunction with my session at the Illinois SHRM state conference this year. So far “Queen of HR” and “one of the sharpest sticks on the tree” are my two favorites.

    Like John, though, I’m really looking forward to being in Dwane’s session. His expertise, enthusiasm and experience make his session a must attend!

  3. Thank you, Dwane! I am looking forward to meeting you and all the speakers in person. I’ve enjoyed working with all of you! This is going to be our “best conference to date”!

  4. Dwane you bring a really interesting mix of non HR background to the table. We have plenty of HR to go around, so your wise mix of stuff outside HR, plus the lean perspective will no doubt be great stuff! I can’t wait to hear it.

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