Highlights From Our Debut HR Conference: HR Uncubed

May 11, 2017 By Chris Johnson

A recap of our first industry HR conference

“I just don’t think sun tan lotion is what you should be doing!”

When we designed HR Uncubed, our first muti-day HR conference, we expected pithy advice from our speakers – we just didn’t expect that bit.

That was, of course, from Richard Johnson, the Founder of HotJobs, in his Day 1 talk: “The Unbelievable True Story of HotJobs.”

He recounted how he formed his early vision for the online job search engine, and just how exactly his company became the first job search website to buy a Super Bowl ad. Answer: he mortgaged his home in a wild bet that ultimately propelled HotJobs to an IPO. (More on HotJobs’ place in job search lore here: A History of the Job Listing and How It Just Died.)

Richard Johnson from HotJobs at HR Uncubed HR Conference

HotJobs Founder, Richard Johnson

The sunscreen zinger, despite its left field origins, was meant to drive home a point: think for yourself, and challenge conventions. Society thinks sunscreen is good for you. Richard thinks it causes cancer. The cultural tie-in was that radical thinking is required to build a business that attracts and retains top candidates.

On that front, another Day 1 standout was the discussion between Erin Dertouzos, Head of Talent & Culture at Meetup, and Ariel Lopez, Founder & CEO of 2020Shift. Erin has been the architect of the remarkable transformation of Meetup’s previously all-male executive team.

HR Uncubed HR Conference Meetup 2020Shift

Ariel Lopez, CEO & Founder of 2020Shift, and Erin Dertouzos, Head of Talent & Culture at Meetup

Erin highlighted her use of a 4-day work week to attract an executive who was also a new mother. Her move shocked Meetup’s CEO as no one else had ever been offered such a perk – yet it worked. The woman joined and now is a top performing manager.

Erin noted another key shift in Meetup’s thinking: opening up to hiring people who come from corporate backgrounds instead of just other consumer internet companies.

(Watch Erin detail her process in a recent interview with Uncubed: How Meetup Broke Up the Boys’ Club.)

Following a tough act, Day 2’s content did not disappoint.

Dan Lyons at HR conference HR Uncubed

Dan Lyons, author and writer for HBO’s Silicon Valley, and Uncubed’s Guy Cimbalo

Dan Lyons, writer from the HBO show Silicon Valley and author of Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble, opened things up, lampooning homogenous and stereotypical startup culture and its inability to deliver what millennials (or other decent humans) actually want: meaningful work.

He talked about ageism in startups and how the “other old guy” found him immediately on his first day in a startup. He was generally hilarious.

In the screening room at the Wythe Hotel, Julie Grzeda, GE’s Global Director of Early Career Talent Pipeline, and Selena Ma, University Program Manager at Facebook, traded notes about their university recruiting strategies.

The two companies are two vastly different profiles, of course: Facebook is Facebook, and GE is a 125-year-old industrial behemoth that’s making a huge investment in its digital offerings (and in the brand behind it, GE Digital).

But there was a clear common ground around resources and running lean: you don’t need a large campus recruiting team to be highly effective. Instead, you can activate your employees across roles and across divisions to get the word out by simply talking about their work.

(Editor’s note: this was the exact notion that drove us to build our video platform in the first place. We’re here to help.)

Julie Grzeda from GE at HR conference HR Uncubed in Brooklyn

Julie Grzeda, Global Director, Early Career Talent Pipeline at GE

Vin Vacanti, the CEO & Founder of YipitData, walked the crowd through the tactical mechanics of building a company culture that’s based upon values. He emphasized the importance of maintaining a written culture guide that captures how your company will operate. And then you have to live by it. At YipitData, if anyone – from CEO on down – is so much as a minute late for a meeting, they pay a dollar to the company’s Venmo account. The funds go towards a company outing eventually (a “tardy party”, we might say).

And if there’s one measure of a successful conference, it might be this: how many people stick around for the last talk on the last day? We passed the test. Bloomberg’s Global Head of Employer Branding, Arti Ram, had a full house for her talk on measuring the ROI of your employer branding investment. Among the takeaways: candidates who watched employer branding videos scored better during the application process than those who didn’t.

Artie Ram from Bloomberg at HR conference HR Uncubed

Arti Ram, Bloomberg’s Global Head of Employer Brand

So after all that, now what? Next year. That’s what. We’re doing it all over again with a brand-new lineup and more hands-on workshops dedicated to HR strategies, company culture, and employer branding.

Get your tickets for HR Uncubed 2018 here. (password: MAKEWORKHUMAN)

And since you’ve made it this far, save 50% with the discount code: NEVERTOOEARLY

Until then, put on your sunscreen. Or don’t.


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