Our Shared Learning from CPHR’s Conference: Work Meaningfully

Big white 3D letters 'I heart HR' with Madelen, Lisa and Keiko standing next to them at Vancouver Convention Centre
We love HR and have learned so much about how to run a business by working with this client over the last decade.

Keiko, Madelen and I were very grateful to attend iilo client CPHR BC & Yukon’s annual human resources (HR) conference in person on May 2-3 in Vancouver.

We have branded the organization’s annual event for the last 11 years, helping to bring each event’s annual theme to life before and during the event. This year’s theme was Work Meaningfully, and it was great to experience the event brand in action at the venue. Keynote and session speakers shared so much high-level inspiration and practical tips and actions that we’re eager to put to use at iilo!

Our top takeaways

Keiko’s top 3

After six years of working on conference as part of the iilo design team, it was a real treat to attend the conference in person this year. Even though I’m a graphic designer, and not an HR professional, I still walked away with inspiration and learning that I could apply in my own life and career. 

  • In his keynote, presenter Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. discussed the topic of remote working and shared that, in his opinion, it works for some, but not for others, with the distinction that remote workers don’t benefit from the unexpected encounters and opportunities that can only be possible “IRL”. While I have thrived in our remote work setting at iilo, his point was brought home for me by the potential new opportunities and connections that iilo made by attending the conference in person–not to mention the strengthening of the bonds within our iilo team itself! And since coming home, with renewed inspiration to not be missing out on opportunities, I began exploring ways to be “in the room” in my own community through events, classes and clubs, and by booking virtual coffees with clients and colleagues.
  • In Jody Wilson-Raybould’s keynote, she acknowledged the opportunity that everyone gathered at the event (HR professionals and otherwise) has to make a difference in their workplaces, on the path towards True Reconciliation. She talked about the need to stay persistent in the effort and to play the role of the “in-betweener”, translating, making connections and building understanding as the bridge between those who are actively working towards reconciliation and those not yet on the path. Later that day, in her session Cultivating Cultures of Belonging, Ame-Lia Tamburrini from Hum Consulting shared a compassionate thought that connected with Jody’s talk for me, saying that the hard work we’re doing to make the world a better place at this time in history is not a linear path, but a spiraling one. She encouraged us to stay the course and know that although it may not feel that way, we are indeed moving towards a better future.
  • Shaun Boothe’s Unauthorized Biography Series was so uplifting and moving, I watched it mostly through tears! Through his original rap songs, he celebrates the lives and achievements of many well-known people such as Bob Marley, Malala Yousefsai, Terry Fox and Serena Williams (to name just a few). A line in his presentation stood out to me: “To Admire is to Aspire,” highlighting the value of learning from those who have overcome adversity to achieve their potential for greatness. It stirred my own desire to continue to strive towards my own potential. I’ll be adding biographies to my summer reading list!

Madelen’s top 3

  • As the Director of People at iilo, I really connected with the impactful messages from keynote presenter Claude Silver, Chief Heart Officer at Vaynermedia. She said leadership is about rebelling, empowering and inspiring others, how we make people feel is all that matters, and how we treat them is what they become. She encouraged attendees to be someone that others want in the room, and to lead with empathy. When employees make mistakes, Claude tells them, “There’s nothing you can break that we can’t put back together.” Wow. Her message to lead from the heart seems so obvious, yet it can be a powerful tool to humanize the workplace and empower teams. 
  • I got a lot of great tips at the 10 Powerful Ways to Improve Employee Onboarding session by Amy Davies and Sheri Angle of First30. They shared a list of practical actions companies can take to win the heart of a new employee during their onboarding process. This can include assigning a work buddy, sharing a company acronym list, using “we” in communications to build connection, and anticipating scenarios where a new employee might feel like they don’t belong and providing solutions. It was also great to hear that HR folks understand that branding matters—they talked about research that shows people trust a company when they see matching fonts on multiple company documents. Design win! 
  • Another session that stuck with me was a speaker panel on Transforming the Candidate and Employee Journey Through DEI. The diverse panelists shared candid stories of feeling like outsiders in the workplace and their journeys as DEI leaders now, changing corporate cultures and ensuring everyone in a workplace feels seen and connected. They said to focus on the impact of diversity in the workplace instead of the return on investment, and to put feedback processes and listening sessions in place to hear from employees regularly and take action on their needs. Simple things like acknowledging different cultural holidays (which we already do at iilo), and hosting virtual potlucks for people to talk about their cultures can go a long way towards educating people about diversity, and building an inclusive workplace. 

Another quick and powerful thought I heard at the Conference, which is super relevant to our work and team at iilo, was, “Be hard on the issues and easy on the people.” Love it!

Lisa’s top 3

  • I loved Jody Wilson-Raybold’s keynote where she shared her story and we learned more about her calling as a leader. The concept that keeps coming to the top for me is to be an “in-betweener,” which was a thread that ran through the conference, I think. To be between two opposing sides/silos/groups and take action towards reconciliation. She called upon us all to be more than allies, but to take an active role as an in-betweener, even when we’re not sure what the right thing to do is. 
  • In the breakout session, Cultivate a culture of belonging with Ame-Lia Tamburrini, she had everyone in the room connecting really quickly and in a very deep way. Questions like, “What’s one quality you have a hard time tolerating in other people?” and, “In what ways do you demonstrate those qualities?” had us all feeling the two sides of “belonging” very quickly. The main takeaway is quite powerful in relationships of all types–seeing yourself in the other person creates a doorway to curiosity and radical acceptance. 
  • Storytelling behind the data, Jay Kiew, Citizencentric highlighted to me how important the role of design is in interpreting data. He shared various examples of how when we share data, people make up all sorts of stories and interpretations from their unique perspectives, and often get distracted by information that wasn’t essential. With Data, we should always share insights which help the reader interpret the information, and not get lost in it.

I also really loved the zero waste & healthy catering from the Vancouver Convention centre — anytime I go somewhere these days where they really nail the food, I super appreciate it!

To Learn More:

Work Meaningfully: A Strong Message That Connected With People At The 60th HR Conference & Expo

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