The thing with fast growth is growing pains, quite literally – my feet are still sore after our first time in Paris for HR Tech World!
You always enjoy a lot of headaches with new venues and the HRN Team worked tirelessly for weeks and months and perhaps more especially the 2 days pre-event on the stage, backstage, 18 breakout events, +20 meeting rooms, the exhibition and now infamous room 212. Our first ever pre-event registration in hotels and at the Palais saw over a 1000 people pick up their badges on Monday, with that added confidence to the exhibition looking great – I said to a couple of people on Monday evening’s Influencer’s Party that the only thing now that can stop us is a power cut. Never tempt fate!
When I arrived on Tuesday I was greeted with a power cut at registration which defaulted the printer settings and took out a group of our desks on the north end. Within minutes we had 1000’s of delegates queuing. Thank god for the pre-event registration and thank goodness for the patience and kindness of most of our customers. Not sure which is worse – waiting in the queue or finding out that the opening keynote was amazing. I did manage to spot a couple of pregnant ladies and get them fast tracked with the extra TLC that is needed for a such a special time in their lives … these are the little things you could never envision when you think of how to prepare for worse case scenarios around running a major event.
Keynotes getting stuck in Hong Kong, delaying the opening keynote so we could get as many people in as possible meant the all agendas were stretched and left us putting our trust in the patience of speakers and delegates who had kindly made the pilgrimage.
Sounds kinda terrible so far – right? WRONG! – thanks to every single one of our attendees in Paris last week for being there, for your patience and most of all for making HR Tech World our best event to date; it’s clear from the smiles, the tweets onsite, media reports, the testimonials and emails we have since received that we took HR Tech up another couple gears this year. Technical challenges aside, it’s all about the content and the networking, and this year the whole show was buzzing intensely – by far the best in our 4 years – we always set the bar high in terms of expectations so you can expect to see improvements and innovations going forward; be sure to watch this space.
After the morning, I needed a hug and no better than lunch with Sir Richard Branson and his PA’s Tamara and Helen! I had almost forgotten where I was and what Paris looked like, until I took the 10 min walk to pick them up. An absolute honor to have him at the event, a truly humble gentleman, a good guy … he gave some great insight on how to be successful in work and life. As long as I am going to corporate gigs, I haven’t observed a clap and a cheer as strong and as loud as that which welcomed Richard – so an obvious inspiration for most people in the room. Sir Richard Branson’s mission on the Future of Work is all about making the world a better place. It should be noted also that any honorarium he accepts goes to a children’s charity – so it was also fitting we got a quick snap of him with the Codordojo kids, tomorrows generation, who were busy coding live onsite; I think they brought a smile on most people!
Our first INFLUENCER Party on Day Zero at Bar La Vue which has this amazing view over Paris with the Eiffel Tower centered was a great occasion kindly sponsored by NGA HR. Naomi Bloom deservedly received a Lifetime Achievement Award for her massive contribution to the industry and we look forward to her return again next year.
Startups have enjoyed in our success over the years and we actually have quite a few now that are actually born out of HR Tech World, last year I decided to do disruptHR last minute, we didn’t really pull it off in the way we had envisioned, that learning experience really allowed us to take it to a whole new level at HR Tech World. disruptHR was one of the main events this year.
— Cecilia Spanu (@CeciliaSpanu) October 27, 2015
Swimming with the sharks – the best way to describe this year’s disruptHR startup competition. In the UK they call it Dragons’ Den, but elsewhere it is known as Shark Tank, so you can choose whether you prefer to get burned or eaten alive! The five finalists competing for a €20,000 sponsorship deal plus trophies were Wellevue (enterprise app – culture & engagement), Iversity (online learning platform), Teambay (employee feedback), Gameffective (enterprise gamification) and Clustree (talent management). As it turned out, Clustree won and the fabulously named Bénédicte de Raphélis Soissan collected her prize whilst the runners up received €5,000 each in valuable sponsorship. Sincere thanks to all for taking part, congratulations to Bénédicte and we wish you all the success you ever dreamed of as you go forward. We have had many of our best references to date – the emails coming in from clients and the talk onsite was already about 2016. This was our first year in the Palais and the flow of the event is something I work very hard on as we opt for a unique style on the continent – other events grow upwards – we are more interested in leveling the playing field and creating a farmers market effect to suit the backbone of the event – buyers and sellers. I went out with Jerome from SmartRecruiters on the last night and earlier in the night he introduced me to one of his colleagues and his comment was – I heard about it, didn’t really believe, but you know you guys really do have serious buyers at the show! Next year we celebrate our 5 year old existence so we are already looking at what fun we can we have with our customers. Once again a really special thanks to all our sponsors, partners, delegates, speakers and staff. Special mention to Jonathan Campbell who flew the flag proud for Ireland and did a great job as MC of the event once again, with the added advantage of having been at our first event 4 years ago in the Okura Hotel when it was just 400 ppl so was able to add to the romance of being in Paris and the journey we have enjoyed so far – only those who were at the Okura in 2011 will truly appreciate the end result and the evolution, all the hard work to make last week happen – you won’t find it anywhere else in HR, that I know. Of course where would we be without the amazing HRN team. They are the best and the feedback I enjoy the most and receive throughout our events is that we have an amazing team and we look to build on that experience for 2016. I am excited by the opportunity – as mentioned in my pre-event post – this was a year where nearly everything was new to us – the sheer scale across the board, 60% unique customers, new venues and of course all the venues that surround the venue, mostly new suppliers which number into the 100’s now, plus orchestrating a challenging office move driven by our own growth where we had to find a new landlord to take over our old office whilst finding a new home in a very tough real-estate market. Great learning and resilience has been needed and I am confident that our baby, born out of recession, with what we have learned this year will continue to transform into something very special. We have managed to bring together an amazing community and you can expect an even bigger, better and bolder experience in 2016. We take on board all the feedback and improvements for 2016 and we’ve a lot of big surprises in store! See you in London! Marc.
— Frederic Williquet (@fredericw) October 28, 2015