Skip to navigation
14 Min Read

21 Top Talent Management, People Ops, And HR Conferences In 2019

David Mizne
David Mizne

Human Resource professionals understand more than most why learning and development opportunities are vital. One study found that a whopping two-thirds of employees actually changed jobs due to a lack of L&D.

Perhaps this is because many companies don’t know how to create a learning and development program internally, or lack the resources to provide what they see as a perk, via external learning experiences like conferences and seminars. But learning and development opportunities are fast becoming necessary elements of an organization’s retention strategy. People Operations teams and other people managers can model L&D by attending one of the HR conferences outlined below.

Inspiration and innovation often thrive through external influences like these. What better way to grow than by joining the brightest minds in a given field for the sharing of ideas, development of relevant skills, and exchange of proven tools and strategies?

For People Ops, these events cover just about every conceivable topic related to employee management: fostering culture from startups to enterprises, using data analytics to fine tune workplace dynamics, improving recruitment and retainment practices, building employer-employee trust, leveraging the latest in performance management technologies, etc. The industry’s top summits explore all of these and many more.

To help you navigate the many gatherings taking place throughout the year, we’ve culled some of the more prominent on the calendar. Many of these take place in San Francisco and Las Vegas, but options do exist further east. Our below list is chronological by city/region.

San Francisco / Bay Area

1. People Analytics and Future of Work (PAFOW)

Date: January 31 – February 1, 2019

Location: San Francisco, CA

PAFOW’s mission is to serve as a central connector for all things people analytics. Each year it brings together global thought leaders in the space to share insights, trends, and best practices. In 2019, the PAFOW Conference will focus on how people measurement and analytics benefit the workforce, leadership, and overall organization of companies that use them.

Notable Speaker: Dawn Klinghoffer, Head of People Analytics, Microsoft

2. Great Place to Work For All Summit

Date: February 26-28, 2019

Location: San Francisco, CA

The Great Place to Work Institute holds its annual summit for over 1,000 leaders responsible for stewarding culture initiatives in 500+ global companies. Presentations and lessons include building high-trust culture, recruiting and retaining talent, managing the effects of rapid growth, and other topics pertinent to fostering outstanding work environments.

Notable Speaker: Lynne Doughtie, Chairman and CEO, KPMG LLP

3. Wisdom 2.0 SF

Date: March 1-3, 2019

Location: San Francisco, CA

Wisdom 2.0 focuses on the intersection of wisdom and technology. Its flagship event in San Francisco welcomes thousands of people from across the globe to engage in conversation about how to leverage digital connections in ways that benefit our well-being, work, and world around us. Wisdom 2.0 SF offers presentations, panels, and parties along with health and wellness opportunities like yoga and meditation sessions.

Notable Speaker: Karen May, VP People Development, Google

4. HR West

Date: March 11-13, 2019

Location: Oakland, CA

Hosted by Next Concept HR Association, one of the country’s largest trade organizations, HR West considers itself the “un” conference. Its low-pressure, collaborative setting places the focus on comprehensive learning for the participants. Seated squarely in one of the most innovative regions in the world, HR West is where People Ops leaders go to stay ahead of the human resources curve.

Notable Speaker: Amy Cappellanti-Wolf, SVP and Chief Human Resources Officer, Symantec

5. Frontiers

Date: April 23-25, 2019

Location: San Francisco

Collaboration hub Slack stages its Frontiers event each year to explore virtual teamwork, how it’s changing companies, and what that means for the future. The popular, cloud-based software provider attracts industry leaders in HR, customer support, IT, product, and marketing who want to accelerate their teams’ performance and get more out of the Slack platform.

Notable 2018 Speaker: Ed Catmull, President, Walt Disney Animation Studios

6. HR Redefined 

Date: May 5-7, 2019

Location: NYC, New York

Namely’s HR Redefined brings together HR professionals to learn from industry experts, exchange fresh ideas, and network with forward-looking peers. We empower attendees to make data-driven decisions about their people strategy, build better workplaces, and change the future of Human Resources.

Notable Speaker: TBD! 2018 keynote was organizational psychologist and NYT best-selling author, Adam Grant

7. Inclusive Diversity Conference

Date: May 6-7, 2019

Location: San Francisco, CA

Hosted by the Human Capital Institute, the Inclusive Diversity Conference takes a scientific behavioral approach to driving diversity and inclusion in organizations. Culture leaders who attend learn about various recruitment strategies, data analytics, and management techniques to help them implement human-centric ideas around acceptance and collaboration.

Notable Speaker: Renetta McCann, Chief Inclusion Experiences Officer, Publicis Groupe

8. Culture Summit

Date: June 25-27, 2019

Location: San Francisco, CA

Whereas many People Ops and HR conferences target executives using a top-down approach, Culture Summit begins at the employee level. Its view of culture as an “everyone strategy” rather than an “HR strategy” drives the cross-functional event’s agenda. Thought leaders and culture experts offer insights, strategies, and tangible practices that empower all levels of employees to contribute in building their own workplace environments.

Notable 2018 Speaker: Cat Lee, Head of Culture, Pinterest

9. HR TechXpo

Date: July 18, 2019

Location: San Francisco, CA

Thanks to its success with HR West, Next Concept HR Association has introduced another event to its lineup. HR TechXpo, which also takes place in Seattle a month later, offers a unique look at the nexus of human resources and technology. Live demos and hands-on interaction define an event that brings together some of the most advanced People Ops solutions making their way into the modern workplace.

10. From Day One

Date: April 2019 (Day TBD)

Location: San Francisco, CA “How can we build stronger, more purposeful relationships with our employees, customers, and community—starting today?” This is the singular question that over 200 principals, founders, and business leaders look to answer at From Day One’s multi-city conference (other locations include Chicago and New York). Presentations and panels support executives committed to effecting change in their organizations and putting their people first.

Notable Speaker: Scott Heiferman, Co-Founder and CEO, Meetup

Las Vegas

11. HR Transform

Date: March 26-28, 2019

Location: Las Vegas, NV

As its name suggests, HR Transform brings together prominent People Ops leaders from around the world who not only think ahead, but who are already implementing next-generation innovations in their own businesses. Executives who attend dive deeply into a range of items, including hiring practices, feedback tools, gamification, growth and development technology, and more.

Notable Speaker: Diane Vavrasek, VP Talent, Walmart

12. Connect HR Leadership Summit

Date: April 14-16, 2019

Location: Las Vegas, NV

The Connect HR Leadership Summit is an invite-only executive conference hosted by Quartz Events. Senior-level HR, talent, and culture leaders from mid-market and enterprise-level companies interact through various educational sessions and social events. Also offered in Chicago in September, the summit is fertile ground for sharing ideas, keeping track of trends, and expanding People Ops networks.

Notable Speaker: Missy Hallead, VP Corporate and Global Human Resources, MGM

13. SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition

Date: June 23-26, 2019

Location: Las Vegas, NV

The Society for Human Resource Management’s Annual Conference and Exposition offers over 200 different educational sessions for People Ops professionals of all levels. Whether you’re looking for solutions that help with compliance, technology that optimizes various HR functions, or talent strategies that boost engagement and retention, SHRM’s event shares the resources you need to support your organization.

Notable Speaker: Vineet Nayar, Founder and Chairman, Sampark Foundation

14. Responsive Conference

Date: September 13-14, 2019

Location: Las Vegas, NV

If you operate in the People Ops space and are charged with making sure your HR functions keep pace with innovation, Responsive Conference is built for you. Change in the 21st Century is unprecedented, which is why event leaders are dedicated to bringing participants creative, evidence-based solutions to modern human resources challenges through compelling speakers, engaging forums, and immersive workshops.

Notable Speaker: Marcus Glover, Partner, Southbox

15. HR Technology Conference and Exposition

Date: October 1-4, 2019

Location: Las Vegas, NV

HR Tech is one of the top events on the calendar when it comes to People Ops systems. Upwards of 100 of the latest industry innovations are introduced here each year among a tech expo filled with market leaders and up-and-coming vendors. Known as the “town hall meeting” among HR and IT executives because of the rapid-fire sharing of insights and ideas, it has become a go-to for technology-oriented People Ops stakeholders.

Notable 2018 Speaker: Binh Nguyen, VP North America Talent Acquisition, IBM Other US Events

16. Employee Experience Impact Summit

Date: February 27 – March 1, 2019

Location: Orlando, FL

In addition to a number of other events throughout the year, HR Exchange Network hosts one of the more quickly growing employee-centric events in the country. Employee Experience Impact participants take a close look at how to empower employees in ways that allow them to feel more connected to their work. Other select topics include employee journey mapping and culture preservation during company transitions.

Notable Speaker: Bejoy Mathew, VP Digital Employee Experience, MasterCard

17. WorkHuman

Date: March 18-21, 2019

Location: Nashville, TN

WorkHuman is a celebration of the movement of the same name introduced by People Ops solutions provider Globoforce. The annual event brings together HR and business leaders seeking to make their organizations more “human” in order to better motivate employees to do their best work. Attendees explore current issues challenging this dynamic and learn from insights and research offered by some of the most forward-thinking innovators in the industry.

Notable Speaker: Caroline Wanga, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and VP HR, Target

18. Wharton People Analytics Conference

Date: April 4-5, 2019

Location: Philadelphia, PA

As you would expect from one of the preeminent business schools in the country, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton People Analytics Conference uses interdisciplinary research as its foundation. Industry leaders and academic experts offer cutting-edge data and insights-based practices to help organizations make more informed decisions about their people.

Notable Speaker: Cathy Engelbert, CEO, Deloitte

19. Conscious Capitalism

Date: April 23-25, 2019

Location: Phoenix, AZ

Conscious Capitalism can be summed up by its mantra, “Elevate Humanity Through Business.” Bringing together executives, entrepreneurs, and consultants, the event concentrates on using capitalism as a force for good. Thought-provoking discussions and relationship-building opportunities are geared toward practical solutions that attendees can implement immediately.

Notable Speaker: Kristin Richmond, Co-Founder and CEO, Revolution Foods

20. Employee Engagement Conference

Date: July 29-31, 2019

Location: Denver, CO

Like the Inclusive Diversity Conference in San Francisco, the Employee Engagement Conference is staged by the Human Capital Institute. People Ops managers and executives benefit from practical tools for creating a culture of values and high performance offered by HR industry leaders. They then return to their organizations with strategies for cultivating a continuous employee-centric experience from recruitment to retirement.

Notable Speaker: Kelly Elliott, HR Deputy Director, NASA

21. NeuroLeadership Summit

Date: November 19-20, 2019

Location: New York, NY

The NeuroLeadership Institute is a global research organization dedicated to innovating leadership practices through neuroscience. Its annual NeuroLeadership Summit attracts over 600 talent professionals, C-level executives, coaches, and other leaders from 150 countries. Based on the latest in brain research, the event delves into how leaders can use these insights to not only improve information processing and transition into an even more pervasive digital future, but how to actively design that future rather than trying to randomly predict it.

Notable Speaker: Chris Yates, GM Learning and Development, Microsoft

Top 10 Tips for Making the Most out of Your 2019 HR Conferences

Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned vet when it comes to HR industry events, you’ll want to make each one a worthwhile investment—for you and the broader team. We want you to shine, too, which is why we’ve also compiled a checklist to help you best leverage your off-site opportunity.

Set objectives

As with any other initiative, establishing goals adds purpose to your participation. Are there must-attend breakouts that will benefit you the most? Is there a specific person or group you’d like to engage? Are you looking for a minimum number of leads? Creating objectives ahead of time helps keep you accountable for these things.

Follow on social media

There are tons of reasons to integrate your upcoming HR conferences into your SM routine. Meet and set up times to connect with new people, gain more info about the best sessions for you, and participate in conversations to stay informed are just a few such reasons to consider.

Sharpen your elevator pitch

You are your company at these events. Sometimes you may even be the sole representative, which places even more importance on your ability to explain your business in a concise yet compelling way. You never know who you’ll run into, so chat with your manager if you need a hand firming up your corporate spiel.

Take notes

We know, it sounds like back to school. But, being able to share what you learned with the rest of your team afterwards results in more bang for your company’s buck (pro tip: CEOs like that!). Great options for this include lunch-and-learns, sharing best practices at company round tables, or even just memo-style recaps.

Listen more than you speak

Ask any salesperson the most important skill they need to succeed and they’ll say the ability to listen. While you may not be canvasing the crowd yourself, you are there to learn as much as possible. Whether you’re engaging speakers or other attendees, focus on what they can share with you and let that guide the dialog.

Manage your time

If your event offers a slew of seminars, breakouts, and other topic-specific sessions, don’t try to boil the ocean. Select those that make the most sense for your role or business ahead of time and soak up as much as you can from those. This also lets you build in time for other things like company calls and check-ins.

Attend the expo

If the HR conferences you are considering offer any sort of trade expo, pencil it into your calendar. These are great ways to meet people, speak with potential B2B partners, interact with new technology, spark ideas based on interesting vendor presentations, recruit talent, so on and so forth.

Take advantage of breaks

Instead of retreating to your room or descending into your phone’s email pit, use scheduled breaks to meet your neighbors, pick speakers’ brains, and otherwise expand your network and knowledge. Most presentations are one-way affairs, so this is your chance to speak and engage!

Enjoy the town

No one, including management, expects you to stay holed up in your hotel between flights. Most conferences like this take place in or near major cities, so enjoy the opportunity to socialize with industry peers out on the town as schedules allow. Budding relationships can bear professional and personal fruit.

Follow up

Out of sight, out of mind. The old adage is very much applicable to the revolving doors that are industry conferences. What good are all those business cards if you don’t cultivate the relationships they serve to spark? Follow up on your conversations, put next steps into play, etc. to really reap the benefits of the event.

So there you go. It takes practice to move fluidly through these HR conferences, but now that you know where to go and what to do, let’s make 2019 a standout year for maximizing industry events.

You may just pick up a pointer or two for how to increase the learning and development opportunities at your organization. And as employees stick around, grow in their roles, feel more motivated and loyal to your company, those L&D budgets are likely to rise.

David Mizne 15fiveDavid Mizne is Marketing Communications Manager at 15Five, continuous performance management software that includes weekly check-ins, objectives (OKR) tracking, peer recognition, 1-on-1s, and 360 reviews. David’s articles have also appeared on The Next Web & The Economist. Follow him @davidmizne.