Impressed. Surprised. Encouraged. Reflecting on last week’s event, these are the three words that quickly come to mind. The 2017 Ag & Food HR Roundtable was the first for me to attend and it did not disappoint!
Throughout my professional career I have been a part of organizing and executing several large-scale events and am aware of the in-depth planning that is required to successfully host an event with as many participants and speakers as the Roundtable has. The Roundtable went off without a hitch which is a testament to the competency of the organizing committee and AgCareers.com staff. Meals were substantial and caffeine was readily available! Attendees were welcomed with a gift bag full of goodies including the conference proceedings booklet that contained not only the schedule but also valuable conference information and speaker biographies.
Speakers presented wide-ranging topics ensuring there was something for all attendees to value. Additionally, all speakers and panelists were experts in their fields making their insight on hot-button topics much appreciated.
I had been told by both AgCareers.com staff and past Roundtable attendees that networking with industry and campus representatives was what the event was really known for. In the back of my mind I thought, “Isn’t networking what all conferences are known for?” I wasn’t expecting the networking experience at Roundtable to be unique. In fact, looking at the list of participants I was certain with so many competing companies and universities in attendance that there wouldn’t be much conversation to be had expect for with those you traveled to the Roundtable with!
I happily admit that I was wrong! The networking was INCREDIBLE. Everyone received a printed list of each attendees (and speakers) name, organization and email address which facilitated key introductions. The first night’s schedule included a welcome reception which overlooked the beautiful Kansas City skyline and gave first time and veteran attendees an opportunity to make connections. There was also ample time in between sessions to converse with others and exchange ideas. Connecting face to face is an invaluable experience that cannot be replicated online and participants were eager to make these connections.
Whether it is successes or challenges, it is encouraging to share experiences with industry peers. The discovery that others are facing similar challenges, followed by solution focused brainstorming and open communication was prevalent throughout the week. It was encouraging to see campus representatives (who without a doubt are on opposing sides during college football season) present posters about their programs and share ideas for engaging students and employers.
The Ag & Food HR Roundtable is a “must attend” event for university professionals and industry representatives. Mark your calendars to be in Tulsa, OK for next year’s event August 7-9, 2018!