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The Musings of a HR Tech Marketer at Unleash World

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Ten years of Unleash (with a slight two-year hiccup) – Long live Unleash. Last week saw us back for the 10th edition of Unleash World primed with all you would expect – beautiful stands, dancing figurines, reception DJ’s and the very best of technology and content tailored for the European HR Community.

Inspiring first impressions of Unleash World Paris

Day one started with a sense of nostalgia and familiarity but also an excitement to see what has changed, who will be there, what will they be speaking about/showing and what will I learn over the next couple of action-packed days?

As the first mainstage opened, David Green did a customary show of hands. I was astonished to see so many hands raised as first-time attendees to the long-standing exhibition – a new audience was born.

A supporting and thematic Keynote

The opening keynotes set the scene beautifully for themes that rang right through every vendor pitch, every customer session and tech demonstration. The world has changed, it has not stopped yet and it is unlikely to anytime soon – it may actually speed up. We all need to be ready, to be agile and to adapt and for the first time - technology is not the only answer – it's about supporting and unleashing the human too!

While Costas focused on how you support humans in times of change (I agree, as he noted it’s more than the odd rousing speech), Peter Hinssen self-confessed owner of the ‘Apple Chapple’ spoke of what organisations can do to address the VUCA in front of them! These sessions while hitting many of the same themes (as guess what they are the things we are all experiencing), beautifully balanced the dichotomy of people and business as we approach the modern world of work.

Cornerstone Customer session

Next up for me, from the mainstage and busy exhibition hall to an altogether more intimate setting – the HR Transformation break-out, hosted by our very own Cornerstar and Unleash favourite – Mike Bollinger. Here we heard from Cornerstone Customer ASML (probably the biggest company you’ve never heard of) and specifically Laureen Rwatirera, their Chief Learning Officer as she shared an inspirational journey of transformation and building global alignment to help engage and grow the multitude of roles and profiles their highly innovative organisation has. One thing that stood out was the elevation in the role of Learning in this business, as demonstrated through a comprehensive, yet agile Learning operating model (eat your heart out COO’s everywhere).

Influencers, pitches and the grand prize

Following a Cornerstone stand coffee and a quick pastry at Paul’s - my next destination was to the Influencers stage for the Start-up award. The prize - $150,000 investment in their business. The challenge – five founders/representatives from start-ups pitching for 10 minutes to a glittering panel of experts (new and old) put together by Unleash. The pitches featured a range of featured tech including job sharing, automated job architectures and fluid structure collaboration. The topic of the day centred on frontline workers, with two of the five solutions pitched, aimed at delivering better employee experiences for those often-forgotten employee communities. In a shootout between Oneteam and Blink (both excellent pitches) - Ruben Wieman emerged victorious. Congratulations and Good Luck to him and the Oneteam Team!

Riverboat cruise with a splendid view of the Eifel Tower

As Day One drew to a close, we saw champagne and cocktails on stands, as vendors came alive with invites to soirees across the beautiful city that is Paris. As the industry came together to share food and drinks, alongside learnings from the day – some things felt incredibly ‘normal’ again. Cornerstone was no different, as we passed the evening on a beautiful riverboat cruise through the Seine, joined by more than 40 customers and prospects!

Day two favourites from Unleash World Paris

Day Two kicked off slowly as it always does – with vendors and visitors shaking off the drinks and dancing of the evening, to fire up demo pods and begin the days speaking agenda. The mainstage was kicked off by an Unleash veteran and personal favourite of mine – Erin Meyer. I saw her in 2019 as she talked about the invisible Culture Map that influences how we interact at work – a useful session for any global citizen.

This time up she doubled down on the importance of feedback in building culture and showed how organisations like Netflix were ripping up the playbook when it comes to Employee Motivation and Performance

Creating a Future-Ready Workforce

Day Two also saw our very own Vincent Belliveau join longstanding customer Monica Huang (Danone) to talk about the blueprint organisations can follow when creating a Future-Ready Workforce. In a mix of big picture and practical examples they covered:

  • The pace of change businesses and people are facing (covering again this crucial level-set them, like so many before them over the two days)
  • The importance of skills – referencing the skills confidence ‘gap’ between employers and employees and the positive impact skills can bring to organisational performance found in our 2022 Global Skills Report.
  • How organisations are using technology to solve the You, Me and We in their People strategy – balancing corporate priorities, with individual empowerment and adaptively aligning for the greater good!
  • Some guidance on the barriers right now when it comes to tech choices. As you could see round the expo hall. There is a tool for every problem. The challenge is how talent leaders navigate what they could do vs. what they need to do?

Lastly, one final session I loved during the event and was linked to the above tech choices in the market comment was Fosway’s ‘Don’t believe the hype’ with David Wilson. Now as a Marketer, I love a concept and a model, but sometimes you love it when an analyst brings data, clarity and pragmatism to their viewpoint.

Conclusions and closing reflections

The world is changing, faster than ever – and it’s not going to stop. The number of new jobs emerging due to advancements in technology is greater than ever before, as is the need for people to learn new skills quickly. Skills is still the big topic that just won’t go away. As we scratch the surface, we have even more questions and see more and more potential – the answer more often than not, How? Organizations must find ways of continually adapting. The focus of organizations should be on investing in people to learn new skills in order to keep up with these changes. Data-driven approaches to the problem of employee skills and accelerating plans on skill development are crucial for survival. Organizations already rely on Cornerstone as a trusted partner throughout their skills journey and we are deepening our understanding of the impact that can be delivered, every day.

Thriving in the global skills shortage in partnership with UNLEASH

  • Discover five practical ways to improve your organization’s approach to skills development
  • Get access to regional-specific results from Cornerstone’s recent study
  • Understand the state of skills development in other organizations across the world, including how high-performing organizations are leading the way
  • Explore the employer vs employee confidence gap

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