Annual Meeting Celebrates 10 Years of Achievements, Influence and Growth

When we announced the 2011 Annual Meeting and Conference was going to be in Indianapolis, Members had a variety of responses. Some included: “Really?” “How could it compete with Vegas?” “What’s in Indianapolis?” Or, one of my favorites, “Why?”

The mixed reactions were understandable. After all, the majority of our meetings had been in Vegas. But we wanted to be different this time around and bring Members to the Hoosier State, where we could leverage home court advantage and help keep travel and lodging costs reasonable.

In addition to moving the event to the Circle City, we added a master of ceremonies, Courtney Bishop. Recommended by our video team, Courtney was able to keep the sessions moving smoothly. This also gave me and the other VPs a chance to spend more time with Members.

Brian Jensen discusses the 2011 milestones for DirectEmployers Association

The format of the conference was slightly modified. We brought in Members to speak in the majority of the sessions and offered concurrent sessions on day two. This gave Members more exposure to each other and gave them insight into different ways to leverage Member benefits.

DirectEmployers President Brian Jensen, VP – Talent Acquisition for The McGraw-Hill Companies, kicked off day one with an overview of the association. Some of the key accomplishments he shared included: .jobs; the launch of and; the Summer Jobs initiative with the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL); testimony to House Committee of Veterans’ Affairs; joining forces with USA Cares; and the Recruitment Regulatory Compliance Committee’s response to the OFCCP Proposed Regulations for Veterans.

Next, the DirectEmployers Ops Team provided updates for their respective departments. The presentations can be found in the Annual Meeting Archives in the Pipeline.

Next, Carrie Corbin from AT&T and I presented a Member case study on the Career Site and showed how a combined effort of Talent Brew and .jobs microsites were able to improve AT&T’s SEO Footprint. The full case study is at

Members Mike Cooper from DTE Energy, Jeremy Cummings from Providence Health & Services, Ray Schreyer from IBM and France Taylor of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) also shared how they have strategically adapted their recruitment strategies to align with the evolution of how job seekers are searching for employment.

Pam Gerassimides, National Labor Exchange Director and Assistant Executive Director of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies and Marilyn Mackes, Executive Director from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, provided attendees with a brief overview their organizations and our partnerships.

Then, keynote speaker Joe Lakis, VP of Policy and Strategic Initiatives of the Equal Employment Advisory Council (EEAC) and Senior Partner with Norris, Tysse, Lampley & Lakis, LLP provided Members with a significant amount of information around regulatory, policy and enforcement changes that have occurred at the OFCCP since’09.

Chad Sowash, wrapped things up with an in-depth discussion of how the fabric of the Internet is changing and blending with search, social and mobile.

DirectEmployers Social Networking Reception

Annual Meeting attendees at the social networking reception.

To blow off some steam, attendees went upstairs to a networking reception – complete with a Rock ‘N’ Roll Dueling Piano Show. Members who weren’t quite ready to turn in for the night regrouped for a tour of Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the next Super Bowl.

Concurrent sessions about social media and OFCCP audits started day two. Tom Eckhart joined Tipton Bradford from IHG to help Members understand the regulatory processes and key measures to take to ensure a smooth OFCCP audit.

Meanwhile, Tipton’s colleague, Francene Taylor, was in the next room with Anthony Scarpino of Sodexo and Jessica Miller-Merrill, CEO of Xceptional HR. These individuals sat on a panel moderated by Katie Pfledderer about social media sharing their trials, tribulations and success stories. Attendees learned about unique initiatives such as Sodexo’s Facebook Prom.

Next, WellPoint’s Chief Diversity Officer, Linda Jimenez, took to the stage and shared a wealth of knowledge around creating an effective diversity strategy. She touched on defining the business case, evaluation, education and metrics.

NASWA, National Labor Exchange (NLX) Ops Committee and RRCC Committee shared updates and accomplishments over 2011 as well as an outlook for 2012.

After a short break, attendees came back with the option of attending “Social Media Platforms: The Recruiting Reality and Mitigating Risk,” or “Creating Talent Pipeline Programs with Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Hyatt & Southern Company.”

David Baffa, Partner at Seyfarth Shaw LLP was very well-received for his sense of humor and true grasp of both the challenges and benefits of using social media as an HR practitioner.

Josh Bleill

Marine Corporal Josh Bleill shares his story and infectious sense of humor.

Upon returning from lunch, all attendees received a life-changing experience with Josh Bleill. Josh was on active duty in Fallujah when an IED struck his Humvee. Five days later, he awoke to the loss of his two friends and both of his legs. It wasn’t just the tragedy that impacted the audience, but rather Josh’s infectious sense of humor and advice to employers as they work to hire veterans and people with a disability. Members were able to meet Josh and received a copy of his book, “One Step At A Time.”

John Reiner followed Josh, and similarly faced something unimaginable – being told by his doctor not to eat. He reflected on the agonizing battle, the process of healing and the importance of focusing on the things that matter most. Members also had an opportunity to get a copy of his book, “The Man Who Couldn’t Eat” and meet John.

Returning by popular demand from 2010, Shama Kabani, CEO of the Marketing Zen Group was next. This time she shared “10 Social Media Recruiting Mistakes…And How to Avoid Them.” A few of the 10 mistakes mentioned were under utilizing Facebook ads for recruitment, overlooking sites like Pinterest, and not leveraging current employees. Her enthusiasm was probably captured best in one of our Member’s tweet:

Tweet about Shama

Steve Uzzell ended day two with his mind-blowing photographs, which he displayed as illustrations for metaphors about possibility and creativity. He urged attendees to constantly re-examine what they think they know. This presentation made it clear why he’s one of the top advertising and corporate photographers in the United States.

After a day full of emotions, statistics and what not to do’s, some attendees shed tears of laughter at Crackers Comedy Club. Even the comedians got into fun by sporting DirectEmployers blinking pins.

Brad Stevens and I after he coached attendees on the importance of integrity and being a team.

Friday morning, a resident Hoosier and Head Men’s Basketball Coach for Butler University, Brad Stevens talked about his approach to coaching and drew parallels from his prior corporate role. He emphasized integrity, being upfront with your recruits and being passionate about something bigger than yourself.

The conference closed off-site at a location that Indianapolis is perhaps best known for – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Richard Petty Ride-A-Long gave attendees a front seat to what it’s like to experience a 600HP NASCAR racecar 3-lap qualifying run.

DierctEmployers Annual Meeting Richard Petty Ride A-Long

Attendees gearing up for a ride at the track.

I’m fairly certain that most, if not all attendees walked away with a better understanding of “Why Indianapolis” as well as “Why DirectEmployers.” Thank you very much to all who attended, and the incredible staff and crew. We’ll see you next year!

To see more of the 2011 DirectEmployers Annual Meeting and Conference, visit (case sensitive) or view the archives in the Pipeline.

Share This