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2024 Philly SHRM Symposium Recap

This week the blog focuses on HRD graduate assistant, Tyra Johnson, and her experience at the 2024 Philly SHRM Symposium!

I attended the 2024 Philly SHRM Symposium, which aimed to promote connection, increase engagement, and inspire others. The breakout sessions I attended covered various topics, including Gen Z and imperfect leadership. Each session successfully achieved its goal. Below are some of my key takeaways!


CHRO Panel

From left to right:

Moderator: Kelly Jones, Villanova adjunct faculty, Senior VP and CHRO of Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

Peggy Verdi, Vice President, Human Resources and Administration, Subaru of America

Andy Sholly, PHR, SHRM-CP, Chief People Officer, National Fitness Partners

Ash Hanson, EVP & CHRO, AmeriHealth Caritas

Daniel Ross, CHRO & SVP, HR, Day & Zimmermann

CHRO Panel Takeaway:

1.) Find your purpose

The panelists highlighted the impact of working for one’s purpose on well-being and organizational culture. They encouraged individuals to follow what excites them.

2.) Get curious

The panelists emphasized the importance of being a lifelong learner and suggested participating in professional development opportunities. These could include additional training, pursuing passion projects, and taking on more responsibilities to expand skills.

3) Do something that scares you every day

“ Be comfortable being uncomfortable because it is the only way you will grow.”

-Ash Hanson, AmeriHealth Caritas EVP & CHRO 

How to Turn Yourself Into an Innovation Machine Session

Kyle Scheele

"Patron of Outrageous Ideas," Keynote Speaker & Author

Kyle urges everyone to embrace wild ideas because they can attract great ideas, provide endless possibilities, and open doors. He also emphasizes that employee ideas must be heard and supported to spark innovation. Kyle frequently presents at conferences, so I encourage you to attend one of his hilarious yet inspirational sessions to hear more about how ideas can ignite creativity and innovation.

Genius of Gen Z Session

Michael Brenner, CEO of Right Chord Leadership

During his session, Michael debunks common Gen Z myths and highlights the generation's strengths.


1) Gen Z is lazy, lacks discipline, and doesn't want to work

2) Gen Z is selfish, entitled and arrogant

3) Gen Z is addicted to and obsessed with technology.


The speaker points out that there are many myths surrounding Gen Z because they are often misunderstood and have different expectations and values in the workplace compared to previous generations. Rather than dwelling on these myths, he presents seven facts to foster better understanding and bridge the gap between the generations.


7  Facts

1.) Gen Z places a significant premium on flexibility, autonomy, and work-life balance

2.) Gen Z has a high interest in diversity, equity, and inclusion

3.) Gen Z values work with purpose

4.) Gen Z desires growth and development opportunities

5.) Gen Z wants truthful, respectful, caring leaders

6.) Gen Z wants to be heard, valued, and respected

7.) Gen Z priorities mental and emotional health, well-being


As a member of this generation, I appreciated Michael's effort to understand and educate about Gen Z. With Gen Z entering the workforce, it is essential to change the dialogue around this generation and promote inclusion and belonging in the workplace. This session was a step in the right direction.

Imperfect Leadership Sesssion

Scotty Prendergast, Keynote Speaker & Mental Health Advocate


Scotty mentioned that employee expectations from leaders have significantly changed over time. Today, employees don't expect their leaders to be perfect but need imperfect leaders. Leaders must show vulnerability, compassion, and empathy towards their employees to lead imperfectly. They can show vulnerability by sharing personal stories. Displaying compassion and empathy can be done by providing emotional support and being considerate of their employees during difficult times. The speaker recommends that leaders take action by acknowledging employee problems, creating a safe space, and taking steps to resolve the issues faced by their employees.

Inclusion, Innovation, & Impact Session

Sulaiman Rahman, CEO of DiverseForce


Sulaiman provides three significant approaches to drive inclusion, impact, and innovation.

1.)    Deeply understand the human needs

The speaker emphasizes that employers must prioritize meeting their employees' six basic needs: significance, connection, security, growth, variety, and contribution. Meeting these needs contributes to employee performance and demonstrates that they are valued.

2.)    Convergence of interest with business needs

Sulaiman discusses the importance of bridging HR interests such as recruitment, retention,  and performance with a business strategy concerning innovation and corporate social responsibility to create equity, consistency, and connection.

3.)    Drive culture change

The speaker highlights the importance of creating a culture that drives impact by empowering employees, collaborating with DEI professionals, and demonstrating culture throughout the organization. He also emphasizes the need to analyze organizational culture at both individual and structural levels. At the individual level, Rahman encourages leaders to ensure that they are demonstrating the culture, which results in employees better understanding and practicing it. At the structural level, he notes that organizational leaders should ensure that a company’s mission, practices, policies, and processes align with the culture to avoid ambiguity and create high-performing teams.


Overall, the Philly SHRM Symposium was an excellent event for creating connections and finding new ways to be engaged and inspired!  

Pictured: Bethany Adams and Tyra Johnson

Connect with Tyra here!


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