HR guru challenges human resources professionals to think from the outside

A Forbes’ top-five coach and renowned management guru, Professor Dave Ulrich of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business headlined this year’s HR Talks: Monica Belcourt Speakers Forum.

Above: From left, left to right: Professor Dave Ulrich with York HR Professors Monica Belcourt, Parbudyal Singh and David Doorey, chair of the School of HRM

On Sept. 25, in front of a sold-out crowd comprised of graduate students, faculty, alumni and HR professionals, Ulrich shared his views on emerging challenges and opportunities for human resources professionals. He challenged the audience to keep all stakeholders in mind when emphasizing the importance of their work, and align their efforts with the goals and values of their organizations. Using examples of his work with Fortune 500 companies and CEOs, he emphasized the need to align the role of the HR professionals to the core business of the organization.

“The HR Talks series was the brainchild of Professor Belcourt, and each year it grows in popularity,” said Professor David Doorey, director of the School of the Human Resource Management (HRM) in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. “The lecture series is a great opportunity for the School of HRM, North America’s largest, to showcase all it has to offer and also to hear from the field’s leading thinkers and influencers.  Professor Ulrich fits that bill, and the sold-out event demonstrates the level of interest in his work in Canada.”

Opening with the counter-intuitive “HR is not about HR” line, Ulrich guided the audience through a series of paradigms, shifting the perspective on HRM from administrative and functional focus to a strategic focus, and concluding that “HR is about business.”

“I left David’s presentation feeling proud to be an HR Professional! HR is not about what we do, but rather the value we create in others. He left us with practical take-aways that we can start implementing right away – bring stakeholders in on designing learning programs for employees. He was brilliant, and made the presentation fun and engaging. I didn’t want it to end!” said Vanessa Capogreco, manager, Talent Development, at York University.

The annual HR Talks: Monica Belcourt Speakers Forum was established in 2015 to bring thought leaders in the field to the School of Human Resources Management. The speaker series is named after Professor Emerita Monica Belcourt, founder of the School of HRM in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies and a HR trailblazer in her own right.