Sri Lanka powers global event on HR professionals | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka powers global event on HR professionals

5 December, 2021
Hosting rights of the World HR Congress was awarded to Sri Lanka during the previous congress held in Chicago in 2018, where Prof. Ajantha Dharmasiri, then President of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM) made the acceptance speech.
Hosting rights of the World HR Congress was awarded to Sri Lanka during the previous congress held in Chicago in 2018, where Prof. Ajantha Dharmasiri, then President of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM) made the acceptance speech.

The world’s most prestigious HR event hosted this time by Sri Lanka begins tomorrow. It is on the apt theme, “Exalting people professionals amid a planetary pandemic: Explore, expand and excel”.

We were compelled to make it a virtual event due to Covid-19 challenges, having been postponed twice. Despite the gloom on economic fronts, we still can be delighted to host such a prestigious event, showcasing what Sri Lanka, as an island of ingenuity, can offer to the whole world. As a co-chair of this event, I like to share the relevance of it to Sri Lanka with multiple implications in diverse spheres.

Overview

The Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM) in collaboration with the World Federation of People Management Associations (WFPMA) is presenting the world’s most premier people event, the World HR Congress (WHRC) on December 6-8, in Colombo, as a virtual experience. The WHRC has been held since 1986 in seventeen countries and this time the venue is Sri Lanka, the pearl of the Indian Ocean.

The WHRC enables people professionals to build a global community of peers, to discuss new developments in HRM, and to network with colleagues from around the world who face similar complex challenges in HRM. For the first time, it comes to a humanly rich (HR) region, South Asia. It will be the pinnacle of the evolution of the premier HR event in South Asia hosted by the CIPM.

Theme

We are just recovering from a planetary pandemic. It was a blessing in disguise in realising the real value of people. A people professional, also called Human Resource (HR) professional can be viewed as a senior person engaged in Human Resource activities as an occupation. In other words, a manager with experience and qualifications, handling the responsibilities associated with the HR function of an organisation.

We often hear the rhetoric that every manager is an HR manager. There is a truth in it in the sense that every manager has a people management role to play. Yet, the reality is that a manager coming from a specific functional background might not have the necessary ability to handle all the specific people management aspects. There has to be a consistent approach with a clear policy framework.

The point here is that, when every manager plays a “people role”, the people professional’s role is becoming increasingly strategic. He or she has to act like an internal coach, guide, policy setter and an architect of strategy. They increasingly come to the forefront in adding value to their organisations. That is why we need to encourage, energise and enthuse people professionals enormously. Hence, we have aptly selected the term ‘Exalting People Professionals Amid a Planetary Pandemic’.

Explore: In an increasingly changing world which is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA 1.0), people professionals need to explore the enterprise they work for and the environment beyond, locally, regionally, and globally. They should demonstrate vision, understanding, confidence, and agility (VUCA 2.0), in becoming “glocal” with global reach and local touch. Digitalisation, disruption, diversity, and diligence will be the four dimensions deliberated in offering much depth and breadth. WHRC 2021 invites HR professionals to participate in prolific proceedings towards exploration.

Expand: In responding to VUCA 1.0 with VUCA 2.0, people professionals must learn, unlearn, and relearn with regards to their knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Covid-19 taught us invaluable lessons for us to expand our horizons. Competency enhancement should be a key strategic priority for them. In turn, they can design and develop meaningful learning systems for their respective organisations. WHRC 2021 invites HR professionals to engage in a cutting-edge learning endeavour towards expansion.

Excel: In demonstrating resilience and revival, people professionals need to inculcate excellence as essence Excellence is exceeding expectations with continuous improvement in mind. Amid a planetary pandemic, they need to show that they are holistic, humble, and humane. It is not just managing a team but to inspire and influence them towards higher performance individually and interactively. WHRC 2021 invites HR professionals to experience the essentials required to collectively move towards excellence.

Disruption, digitalisation, diversity, and diligence have been identified as the sub themes to be discussed in relation to the people professionals.

Disruption and people professionals: Covid-19 has created a new normal with multiple challenges involving people management. Its impact is yet to be fully assessed and the challenging journey from “resilience to revival” has become crucial for survival and success. The key ways the ongoing disruption would impact people professionals, how would such ways help or hinder the effectiveness of people management, the key people management challenges associated with disruption, key strategies the business leaders should adopt in facing the current disruption and the things people professionals do differently in the face of current disruption would be deliberated.

Digitalisation and people professionals: Digitalisation has become a wave spreading across the world, revealing multiple varieties. This power to unveil not only transforms human outreach and action, but also changes our conceptions; about who we are, about our uses and about human horizons for sense-making. The key ways the digitalisation would impact people professionals, how would such ways help or hinder the effectiveness of people management, the key people management challenges associated with digitalisation, the key competencies required by people professionals in the era of digitalisation and what people professionals should do differently in the face of digitalisation will be deliberated.

Diversity and people professionals: Diversity is associated with the practise or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds inclusive of different genders and sexual orientations. It is an emerging global challenge where managers and leaders alike have to pay attention.

The key ways the diversity would impact people professionals, how would such ways help or hinder the effectiveness of people management, the key diversity trends we see in the modern world, the key diversity challenges faced by people professionals in the era of digitalisation and what people professionals should do differently in managing diversity will be deliberated.

Diligence and people professionals: Diligence involves careful and persistent effort. This is the panel discussion that focuses on strategic and operational aspects of Human Resource Management with practical implications.

The key strategic priorities of people professionals in the wake of Covid-19 pandemics, the key leadership roles played by people professionals, how challenging is the balancing of strategic direction and operational involvement to a people professional, regional, and global best practices in HRM that are applicable in current pandemic times and what people professionals should do differently in the face of “new normal” will be deliberated.

From Hong Kong to Chicago

The tough terrains we had to tread are worth remembering. One key agenda item of the Bi-annual meeting of the APFHRM held in Hong Kong in 2017 was the selection of the host country for World HR Congress 2020 (later postponed to 2021).

Australia, Philippines, Thailand and Sri Lanka were in the foray. The bid from Australia was very impressive with the strong message of inviting to “come back” after successful completion of two such events in the past. It could have been a logical choice of preferring a tested and known brand.

The Philippines harped on the popularity of Manila as an established venue for global conferences citing many recent ones. Thailand bid for me was most “appealing” with a strong endorsement from the government and also featuring infrastructure, nature and culture. We had a huge challenge.

Rohitha Amarapala (then CIPM representative to APFHRM) and Dhammika Fernando (now President of APFHRM and conference co-chair) and I represented CIPM Sri Lanka and we knew the tough reality.

The crux of the matter was a secret ballot after the presentations by all four bidding countries. Each country in the APFHRM had a vote. Our logic and drive in rallying South Asian countries together really worked. Sri Lanka got the highest votes in a democratic manner which was acceptable to all. It was clearly a case of stress and success.

Now the ball is in our court. We need to do justice for the Asia Pacific Region in not only showing the organisational capabilities of CIPM Sri Lanka but also showcasing Sri Lanka as the “Wonder of Asia”. Despite being virtual, we strive to showcase what Sri Lanka is to a global audience.

The World HR Congress will show the world the potential of post-war Sri Lanka with its multiple investment offerings. Also, being the knowledge-hub of South Asia with a very high literacy rate and other Human Development Indicators (HDIs), Sri Lanka can make an impactful impression among the global and regional participants of the event. Opportunities for knowledge sharing, research collaborating and professional networking will be in abundance.

Highlights

The CIPM brought you “In Search of HR Excellence” in 2013 with overwhelming success. We hosted the largest ever HR event of CIPM in 2014 with the theme, “Redefining HR for Boosting Performance”. It further expanded with the theme, “HR for National Prosperity” in 2015. Then, we zoomed into the aspect of competing as a nation on a global scale in 2016 with the fitting theme, “HR Ecosystem for Competitiveness”. In 2017, the focus was on “Emerging HR Leaders: High Tech and High Touch”. We have moved further in 2018 with the novel theme, ““Transformation of HR in the Digital World”. In 2019, it took a dynamic turn with a distinctly different theme, “Radically Reinventing Reality”.

In 2021, South Asia’s largest HR event is becoming the World HR Congress 2021, taking a giant leap. It is coming to you, more enhanced and enriched with an exciting flavour of global, regional, and local blend. With over 50 global speakers, over 20 panelists, assure you immense insights, initiatives, and implications in line with an invitation towards transformation.

Way forward

As Walt Disney said, “if you can dream it, you can do it”. This is what keeps us going. As the logo of the event depicts, the national flower holds the globe, significantly depicting the island nation of Sri Lanka. Despite the bumpy rides we often see in political circles, our motherland has many things to be proud of. Dhammika Fernando, and I being co-chairs of the event, ably supported by Jayantha Amarasinghe, current president of the CIPM and Bob Morton, president of the WPFMA, are determined collectively with a committed team, to make theWorld HR Congress 2021 such a meaningful and memorable experience.

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