HR Main Conference 2020 Agenda – National HR Summit

HR Main Conference 2020 Agenda


Main Conference - Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST)

9:05 am

Introduction from the Chairperson

Sam Sheppard

Chief People Officer, Blackwoods

9:15 am

PANEL: Surviving and thriving – how to lead your workforce through recovery

Panellists from Australia’s leading companies will share the lessons they have learned from the coronavirus crisis and their HR plans and strategies for emerging stronger. 

  • How to leverage the experience of COVID-19 to accelerate the future of work 
  • Tips for engaging employees to feel connected with the redefined priorities and strategy  
  • Re-engaging and redeploying the workforce to new priorities and routines 
  • Using the recovery period to pivot towards a more resilient and innovative workforce 


Joy Adan

Content Journalist, Reward Gateway


Jodette Cleary

Chief People & Innovation Officer, Hi Pages Group

Trudie Harriman

Chief People Officer, Craveable Brands

Manon Pietra

People and Development Director, PHD Australia

Pritho Saxena

HR Leader, China and Australia, Amazon

10:00 am

TED TALK: Leadership in the new future of work

In this session, Carolyn will share key lessons she has learned during Covid-19 and how her experience has changed what it means to be a leader as we return to a new normal.

Carolyn Creswell

Founder, Carmans Fine Foods

10:45 am

PANEL: Supporting your middle managers to lead through the recovery phase

Over the last few months, HR teams have relied on supervisors to maintain the well-being, health and safety of their workforces. As we enter our recovery phase, middle managers will play a critical role in motivating and reshaping our workforces for recovery.  

  • How to support middle managers to succeed in the new normal 
  • HR strategies to build resilience during uncertainty   
  • Which L&D programs can best cultivate human and soft skills in supervisors? 
  • How to coach leaders and managers to build their emotional intelligence and empathy 
  • Proven HR strategies that help managers to become thoughtful, authentic and inclusive  


Sam Sheppard

Chief People Officer, Blackwoods


Martin Cowie

People & Development Director, OMD

Lynette Davis

HR Director, Head of Knowledge & Insights, Coca-Cola South Pacific

Caroline Monzon

Executive Director, People and Culture, Development Victoria

Diana Nadebaum

Chief People Officer, Opteon

11:30 am

LEGAL PARTNER: Employment law considerations for post-COVID recovery

In this session, we will give an overview of the main employment related legal questions and challenges of 2020. Focus areas will include changes to modern awards, health and safety as well as downsizing strategies. 

  • Summary of changes to modern awards in 2020 
  • Redundancies and stand downs – legal considerations  
  • Managing reduced working hours and work weeks 
  • Health and safety obligations of employers during COVID-19 
  • Managing safety risks as we return to work in the new normal 

Joydeep Hor

Founder & Managing Principal, People + Culture Strategies

12:15 pm

Mental health strategies for a remote workforce

Research has shown an increase in reported mental health issues among employees during the COVID-19 crisis. Companies are now shifting their priority towards employee wellbeing during this time of uncertainty. In this session, Shruti will discuss the steps Unilever is taking to improve employee wellbeing.

  • Developing initiatives to manage mental health and stress for a remote workforce  
  • Integrating mental health support to your current HR strategy
  • Creating a culture of support through empathetic leadership 

Shruti Ganeriwala

HR Director – Ice Cream Business & Country Lead for D&I, Unilever

1:35 pm

HR spotlight: Telling stories through real-time data

During the crisis with such rapid changes and decision-making, HR teams really learned the importance of real-time data.  In this session, hear insight into the use of data for HR decision-making. 

  • Making connections across data and information to inform successful decision making 
  • Using real-time data and analytics to influence stakeholders at all levels 
  • How to shape data into a narrative to help reveal findings, trends or underlying patterns 
  • Using visualisations to explain how and why HR data changes over time 
  • How can we use data to think differently about the employee experience?

Kent Cabrera

Global Head of HR Optimisation, Aesop


Sambit Das

HR Data and Analytics Consultant, The Salvation Army Australia

2:05 pm

PANEL: Leading a flexible and remote workforce in the new normal

At the start of the year, we saw rapid shifts to virtual and remote work, with unprecedented levels of flexibility. As we start to look to the new realities of a post-pandemic world, our panellists will discuss best practices for the new normal and future of work. 

  • How to foster collaboration, teamwork, agility and cohesion in the new normal 
  • What have we learned about remote work during COVID-19? 
  • Successful HR programs that support gig economy workers and contractors  
  • Communication strategies to create a cohesive culture in a remote and virtual world  
  • HR programs that combine targets and metrics with flexible work arrangements  


Sophie Schaedel

Managing Partner, Business Consulting, Quinton Anthony


Holly Barnes

Chief Human Resources Officer, Vix Technology

Rowena Fraser

Talent Specialist - Organisation Development, Hastings Deering (Australia) Limited

Shruti Ganeriwala

HR Director – Ice Cream Business & Country Lead for D&I, Unilever

Susie Gleeson-Byrne

Head of Human Resources, Uber Australia and New Zealand

9:15 am

Opening remarks from the Chairperson

Sam Sheppard

Chief People Officer, Blackwoods

9:20 am

Harnessing your people’s passion to help inclusion and diversity flourish

Now more than ever, an inclusive and diverse workforce is a critical part of corporate strategy. In this session Sanofi Australia and New Zealand Country Lead, Karen Hood, will explain how her team is harnessing their people’s passion to drive their inclusion and diversity program forward and in turn help their inclusive culture to flourish.

  • A commercial leader’s view on why inclusion and diversity has never been more important
  • How listening led Sanofi to engage its broad workforce in its inclusion and diversity program
  • Harnessing your people’s passion and personal experience to build an inclusive culture
  • Keeping your leaders on your inclusion journey

Karen Hood

Country Lead, ANZ, Sanofi

10:00 am

2021 and beyond: HR leadership in the future

The last few months have accelerated the reality of the future of work. What will HR roles look like in the future?  

  • How can we capture and scale the benefits gained through COVID-19? 
  • Preparing your workforce for future challenges and opportunities    
  • What does the future hold for progressive and flexible work options and benefits? 
  • How can we guide and support teams for a future that is uncertain?  
11:00 am

Doing more with less: making the most of a limited HR budget

As companies around Australia have tightened their belts, HR teams are now also operating under tighter budget restraints.

How can we maintain employee engagement, build resilience and look after our employees on a limited budget? 

  • How do we rethink what we prioritise during this time
  • What do we hold ‘tight’ as a HR team               
  • How do we think about how we reuse, repurpose and revise our HR programs 

Melissa Wong

Senior Executive, Talent, Capability & Culture, Medibank

11:30 am

PANEL: Leveraging HR technology to re-engage your workforce

Across Australia, many multi-year digital transformation projects were accelerated to a few weeks. With HR technology now playing a huge role in all organisations, our panellists will share insights from their HR tech journeys. 

  • Practical lessons learned during a variety of different HR tech rollouts 
  • Examples of successful AI and automation programs that have automated routine HR tasks 
  • Which transactions can we automate with self-service and what should we retain in human hands? 


Ricky Nowak

CEO, Ricky Nowak Leadership


Raelene Barry

Deputy General Manager - Executive Manager - Human Resources, Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre

Diana Dawid

Chief Human Resources Officer, Mills Oakley

Vernon Griffith

Global Head of HR Service Design & Delivery, QBE Insurance Group Limited

Lisa Thompson

Human Resources Director APAC, Amobee

12:15 pm

Career development in an age of agility and uncertainty

The coronavirus has accelerated and catalysed one of the greatest workplace transformations of our lifetime. Now more than ever, being quick, agile and responsive is everything. But how do we offer career development and certainty in such a dynamic and uncertain time? 

  • Agile strategies, structures, people, processes and technology 
  • Shifting away from hierarchical, command and control leadership structure  
  • What does a non-hierarchical approach to career development look like? 
  • Enabling talent to move around to gain experience on different projects continue learning  
  • What career progression can we provide in a lean, low hierarchy environment? 

Kim Lee

Chief People & Performance Officer, The Star Entertainment Group

1:35 pm

KEYNOTE INTERVIEW: Employee Engagement and Collaborative Performance Management

The connection and commitment employees exhibit toward an organisation can lead to higher levels of productive work behaviours. By creating a work environment that enables people to perform to the best of their abilities, companies can reap the benefits of collaborative performance management. In this interview, hear how managers and employees can work together to achieve and realise a shared goal. Hear how high employee engagement strengthens relationships, builds accountability and delivers business results.

Interviewed by:
Conference chairperson

Christian Campanella

Human Resources Director, Pernod-Ricard Winemakers

2:05 pm

PANEL: Rebuilding trust with a positive post-crisis employee experience

This year has brought unprecedented stress and uncertainty to our employees. Now it’s up to HR departments to rebuild trust by creating and maintaining positive employee experience and engagement programs. 

  • Employee experience (EX) programs that foster personal strengths, passions and purpose 
  • HR technology solutions that help HR teams to apply personalisation in a scalable way  
  • How four different employers have taken holistic ‘whole person’ approach to EX 
  • Practical examples of highly connected and personalised people management strategies 


Sam Sheppard

Chief People Officer, Blackwoods

Linda Carroll

Head of People & Culture, Affinity Education Group

Vesna Garnett

Chief People & Culture Officer, THE ICONIC

Gayle Fearnett-Smith

Head of Organisational Development, Sodexo

2:45 pm
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