Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.
- Helen Keller

Review of 2013 CIPD Annual Conference

Daniel Pink at CIPD conference CIPD13

Daniel Pink said “The gold standard of takeaways is: I can do it tomorrow and without any budget”... here I share my main takeaways from the CIPD conference in the hope that you find them useful to reflect on ‘how you do’ or ‘how you think about how you do’ people development.

I attended 5 talks about: change, developing high performing line managers, female leaders, trustworthy leaders, leadership and influence.

My motivation for paying £106 per hour to attend the talks was to be inspired by bold and effective approaches, see great quality new content and come away with actionable insights I could use with my clients; the 5 star rating below gives my view on how well the conference met my personal objectives.

Leading People through Organisational Change

by Andrew Wolstenholme CEO and Rob Jones OE Lead from Crossrail
Inspiring **** Content Quality ***** Actionable Insights ****
Big thumbs up for a CEO speaking at the HR conference!

  • CEOs should encourage HR to “wear the black hat” and deliver the challenging and uncomfortable messages not only the positives, HR have the courage to do so.
  • Values built into performance management and underpinned by suppliers and partners having skin in the game – all invested £ towards innovation to deliver initiatives to put safety first.
  • People are motivated by a higher purpose, take time to explain the ‘big picture’ and how their individual role contributes.

Initiatives to Develop High Performing Line Managers

by Jeff Turner EMEA Learning & Development Function in Facebook
Inspiring ***** Content Quality ***** Actionable Insights *****
Picking just 3 insights does not do this talk justice...

  • “The manager trumps the brand” employees experience your company brand through the eyes of their line manager – for better, or worse.
  • At Facebook managers do not get paid more than staff, the role of manager is important but no more so than other contributions, no managers ‘only manage’ they also ‘do’ – manager is a lateral move.
  • We only want managers that want to manage people. It is possible to get to VP without ever having had any direct reports. Offer managers a dignified return to individual contributor role if it turns out manager role is not for them.

Female Leaders: encouraging and motivating women to take senior roles

by Sarah Churchman PwC and Julie Taylor Home Office
Inspiring **** Content Quality **** Actionable Insights ***
Each speaker had enough content to carry an individual speaker slot so 15 minutes each did neither speaker justice.

  • Senior women need a mentor, a coach AND a sponsor to get ahead. (PwC)
  • Create opportunities for senior women to contribute to problem solving sessions with board members to demonstrate the business value of different viewpoints and win over sceptics. (PwC)
  • Demystify senior roles so that high potentials know what they are aiming for. (Home Office)
  • Ask the questions that surface unconscious bias in selection processes and tackle them head-on to create a level playing field for capability to be recognised. (Home Office)

Developing Trustworthy Leaders for Greater Business Performance

by Dr Graham Abbey and Kirstin Furber BBC Worldwide
Inspiring * Content Quality * Actionable Insights *
I don’t doubt that some good work has been done. However, the ‘speakers’ arrived on stage saying we don’t have research findings to share with you and we haven’t rehearsed our delivery of this presentation – an interesting approach if you are aiming to build trust and gain the attention of an audience that paid circa £70 a ticket to attend a 40 minute waffle. I’m sorry to say the lack of preparation showed. I wait with interest for any considered findings to be published - you can’t please all the people all the time.

Closing key note: Leadership and the New Principles of Influence

by Daniel Pink best-selling author (from his book: To Sell is Human)
Inspiring ***** Content Quality ***** Actionable Insights *****
Entertaining and packed with useful takeaways and research backed insights about modern day sales. The sales content was marketing 101 but the interesting lens was thinking about people development roles as sales and WHY sales is no longer sleazy.

  • Like it or not we’re all in sales now – What percentage of your work involves convincing or persuading people to give up something they value (time, money, effort, attention) for something you can offer?
  • Sleazy sales is no longer a reality, information asymmetry changes ‘buyer beware’ into ‘seller beware’ – recruiters take note that marketing messages will be checked against and other sources by candidates seeking a reality check.
  • 3 Qualities affect your capacity to influence: Attunement (stand in the others’ shoes), Buoyancy (face an ocean of rejection daily) & Clarity (sense-making and problem-finding).

Centenary Celebrations

I wasn’t able to attend the conference celebration dinner but judging by the emptiness of the exhibition hall at 9am I’d say it was a good night!

In Summary

I chose to attend sessions on topics that I am interested in and practiced at. Therefore I found myself wondering what ‘new’ thinking there was, or whether it was only possible to deliver the brave new world of people development if your company or project is newly formed or the majority of your employees are Gen Y.

The reality is that it is great to showcase the organisations, new and established, that are enjoying improved business results by more closely integrating their business and people strategies; it provides renewed energy and tactical insights to those working to change the culture of older more established businesses. 

I returned energised and inspired after two days at the CIPD annual conference and exhibition; the conference provides a great opportunity to network with peers, practitioners and thought leaders who are passionate about people development.

I hope you found this useful or interesting.

Please share via social media etc.

Have a great weekend


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Thank you Angela, I had the most productive day I have had in ages. I estimate that I am going to save 1-2 hours per day by being more effective following your training so it was certainly a worthwhile day out of the office!
- Rob Borland, Validation Engineer, Caterpillar

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