Conference: AHRD 2016

March 2, 2016

What an amazing conference! Two weeks ago I attended the Association of Human Resource Development (AHRD) 2016 Conference in Jacksonville, Florida. I consider AHRD my professional home, and I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations and presentations throughout the week.

View of the hotel from the bridge

View of the hotel from the bridge

I had the opportunity to present at the conference in three different formats. AHRD has informal sessions over breakfast and lunchtimes, so my friend and colleague Abdul and I presented a book review of The Culture Map by Erin Meyer. It was an interactive session with a handful of people with coffee and pastries discussing culture, global management, and the place of these types of quasi-research books within academia.

I also facilitated a roundtable discussion on some work I’ve been doing on millennial leadership development. This turned out to be my favorite session. There were about 15 people around a couple of big tables. I shared some of my work thus far and put forth some questions to the group. Then, we spent about 35 minutes in a brainstorm of possible research questions, theoretical frameworks, and methodologies one could use to study millennial leadership development. It was essentially the rough draft of an entire research agenda. Everyone was incredibly supportive and the session expanded my perspective on the topic.

Two Thai friends at AHRD 2016

Two Thai friends at AHRD 2016

The last day I presented a full manuscript, which was a conceptual paper on the concept of time and organizational change. I wrote the paper building on my foundations of HRD and human systems change courses at GW. I argued that as organizations have become more complex throughout history, our concept of time has also evolved. It was well received, and a journal editor approached me afterwards and asked me to submit it to her journal.

I went to as many presentations as I could and enjoyed talking with foundational HRD scholars like Gary McClean and Karen Watkins. While I was intellectually stimulated with topics like motivation in the workplace, the global skills index, and critical HRD, my favorite part of the conference was building relationships with the other attendees. Many of the people at AHRD attended the European HRD conference in Ireland last year, so it was fun to rekindle those friendships. On Friday we had dinner at a Thai restaurant. While talking about Buddhism, it dawned on us that we had a Muslim, Buddhist, Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, and atheist among us. What great company!

Lunch at an Irish Pub

Lunch at an Irish Pub

The next day, a bunch of us doctoral students got together for lunch at an Irish Pub and we had seven different countries represented in our group. I loved the diverse interactions and discussions about HRD. For instance, a friend of mine from Ukraine shared with me some fascinating aspects of Ukraine’s political turmoil from his perspective. I’m looking forward to being friends and colleagues with these amazing people for many years to come.

Thai Dinner

Thai Dinner

AHRD truly embodies its focus on “rigor and relationships” and I am looking forward to next year in San Antonio. In the meantime, I have a paper accepted for the Asian chapter of the AHRD conference, which will be in Morocco next year at Al Akhawayn University. Check out this sweet video below. Who wants to join?

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