In light of Summer break, OKHR would like to invite you to enjoy the below guest post from one of our very own students, Ron Brown, from Cameron University. Ron attended the SHRM Student Case Competition and Career Summit, in Omaha, NE this past April and wanted to share his experience with the rest of the HR world. For those who are new to HR, the SHRM Student Case Competition and Career Summit is the premier student HR conference in the United States. SHRM provides world-class opportunities for students, student chapter advisors, faculty members, and HR professionals to connect through events held in multiple locations across the country. Students hear from in-the-know keynote speakers, have the opportunity to sit down with local HR practitioners, and be able to engage with fellow attendees or compete in the Case Competition. Without further ado, let’s hear from Ron:
I recently attended the SHRM Student Case Competition and Career Summit, Central Region, in Omaha, NE on April 1-2, 2016. I have to say that I was honored to be approached by my HR professor, Dr. Ankur Nandedkar to attend. He notified me of a unique career enhancing opportunity for a non-traditional student such as myself and felt I was a perfect fit to attend. You see, I already completed a successful military career and decided to expand future options through a degree in Business Administration. Cameron University’s student SHRM association had never competed in a case competition before, and with recent expansion to a Division II competition, (allowing one student age 26 or older per team, or comprised entirely of post graduate students to compete) an opportunity presented itself. After researching the project, I committed to attend with the intent of competing next year. Dr. Nandedkar connected me with Dr. Krystal Brue, the university contact for the professional side of SHRM. Reservations were made and we were on our way to Omaha to observe this year’s case competitions and summit.
Case Competition and Summit
The summit began at 8:15 with a general session/orientation, welcoming all of the visitors. The session included a 20-minute networking exercise where attendees would go from person to person with their elevator speeches. The object was to connect with at least five individuals, expanding their network. If there was a secondary theme to the summit, networking was it. I personally was able to connect with three more individuals during this exercise. Afterwards, teams were released to prepare for competition. Those individuals not actively competing were encouraged to attend the Career Connection Zone with local HR professionals. Unfortunately, I was caught short without a resume, but I used the opportunity to sit down with a couple of professionals and “pick their brains”. Having a background in leadership in my previous career, I was interested in hearing about the HR world from HR professionals. To my surprise, I found that a high percentage never pursued a career in HR out of college. They mostly seemed to have fallen in to the field and liked what they were doing. This was a relief to me, as I too was now considering a move into this field at my age.
The case competitions were based a growing business scenario in the exercise industry with organizational, moonlighting, and social media issues to resolve. Teams were presented with the dilemma of a supervisor faced with an employee dividing his attention between two jobs. After his performance began suffering as well as suspicious activity observed while using the firm’s computers, the employee was confronted by his supervisor. This didn’t go well and the owner was faced with a dilemma. Lacking policies on moonlighting, computer usage, and a dedicated HR professional, teams were asked to come up with solutions and present them to a panel of judges. Teams were given the scenario about three weeks prior to the competition and were not allowed any assistance from their student advisors. In fact, none of the student advisors saw any of the presentations prior to the competitions. I had the opportunity to observe three of the division I presentation. All were conducted professionally and had great solutions, though I felt that I may have pursued a slightly different solution. Perhaps it was on account of my previous work experience, but I perceived the second job a bit differently. I also would have been concerned with the cost of each solution. To play devil’s advocate, I only observed three presentations and I was not privy to the requirements for the scenarios so it may have not been an issue. I just know my decision making process in these situations. I also found that many of the schools competing had dedicated HR degree concentrations in their respective department. This is something Cameron does not have so there may be different thought processes involved based on curriculums.
The summit included several speakers between competitions. I was able to attend only two, as we had to catch an afternoon flight on Saturday. I especially enjoyed the session with Mr. Joe Gerstandt and Mr. Jason Lauritsen. The presentation was based on their book, Social Gravity: Harnessing the Natural Laws of Relationships. They were dynamic speakers and used sense of humor, storytelling, and audience involvement to get their point across. Again, that secondary theme of networking was addressed again. They stressed the importance of social and professional “acquaintances” rather than actual friendships. Those of us older individuals understand how important the accrual of acquaintances can be over time and the value of just meeting people. I also had the opportunity to attend Mrs. Elissa O’ Brian’s presentation. She is currently the Vice-President, Membership of SHRM. Her presentation provided insight to the career decisions of an extremely successful HR professional.
After having the opportunity to attend the conference, I have a new motivation to explore a career in HR. Though I never gave it much consideration before, I see flexibility and opportunity in the HR profession. I certainly have similar skills and abilities acquired from years of experience leading teams in a combat arms profession. Backed with the knowledge that I am now acquiring; the future looks a lot brighter. As for next year’s competition, I feel that the optimal number of participants is four. We will need students that like people, communicate well, and think outside the box. Additionally, I would recommend having a person with strong accounting skills on the team. Perhaps addressing costs and potential labor efficiency cost variances will give us an edge over the teams filled with HR specific students. Either way, I am looking forward to next year’s competition.
To learn more about the SHRM Student Case Competition and Career Summit, click here.
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