Who are the people that are taking the lead in disrupting the future of work?
They’re the official Disruptors (Organizers) of DisruptHR events held in cities around the world. Each week, we’ll introduce you to one of these intelligent, inspiring, and beautiful people (okay, pick two) who have stepped up, and volunteered to organize a Disrupt HR event in their city.
Vadim Liberman of DisruptHR New York (Disruptor #188)
LinkedIn – [ Vadim Liberman ]
Twitter – [ @VadimsViews ]
Who are you, and what do you do in your “day job”?
I am Vadim Liberman. My official day job is practice leader, content strategy and thought leadership at The Starr Conspiracy, a marketing agency for HR tech companies. Essentially, I help make HR dreams come true. Or something like that.
How did you first hear about DisruptHR?
I can’t remember, but the more important question should be: How could anyone NOT hear about DisruptHR these days? The movement has been expanding rapidly into so many cities on almost every continent. (I’m still waiting for DisruptHR Antarctica.) By the time you finish reading this sentence, a new chapter will probably have spring up somewhere in the world.
Why did you decide to raise your hand and become an organizer for DisruptHR events in New York?
At my core, I’m a pot-stirrer, a troublemaker — but with the best intentions. And I’m not alone. There are other rebels out there who yearn to shatter the status quo. DisruptHR is a terrific opportunity to talk about ideas that are new or different, or at least it offers the chance to think about old ideas in new ways. That’s über-exciting to me, as is the ability to help build greater community among HR professionals.
Also, prior to becoming an organizer, I’d spoken four times at DisruptHR NYC. I’d grown to love the events as a speaker, so when I was laid off from my job in January, I wanted to keep busy. That’s when I reached out to Barnaby Cook, the event’s main organizer, and asked, “Hey, maybe I can help out? How about I create, oh, I dunno, a post-event survey?”
“How about you come on as a co-organizer?” Barnaby replied. So I did! Plus, let’s face it: I was out of work. Helping to organize DisruptHR obviously connected me to all sorts of cool people at cool companies. Now that I am employed again, the events continue to expose me to new people and new ideas. It’s what I — and I think our attendees and speakers — love most about DisruptHR.
How many events have you organized?
I’ve helped organize three events, all this year. I’m also pleased to say that we regularly sell out, attracting over 200 attendees.
What types of people/industries have attended your events?
Attendees, like our speakers, span the gamut of HR functions, and beyond! Our attendees range from people at start-ups to those at Fortune 50 corporations, from administrative assistants to C-suite executives. All from a slew of industries. From vendors to practitioners to the HR-curious, what’s been really terrific is bringing together people of different backgrounds who share a hunger to ponder new ways of thinking about the world of work. Plus, events are casual and friendly — I hear all the time from people who were intimidated to speak or attend an event but came away feeling energized.
What are you most proud of that has come out of being involved with/organizing DisruptHR events?
There’s a lot to be proud of, but mainly, I’m proud of efforts to elevate the level of presentations by working with our speakers on content, titles, etc. I’m also proud of efforts to inject greater diversity into our speaker lineup — albeit this continues to be a challenge. Not everyone in HR is a white woman in a cardigan — which is to say that I’d love to see more diversity reflected in our speaker lineup. (Though how amazing would it be if every one of them wore a cardigan!)
What kind of feedback have you received from those who attended prior DisruptHR New York events?
I had a speaker write to me that it is often difficult for her to find a safe space to share her alternative ideas, which is why DisruptHR is such a valuable platform. She went on to explain that I not only comforted her during the event, but my own presentation style (she’s viewed my clips) inspired her. “I want to be as engaging as Vadim,” she wrote. “I want my 5 minutes to be worth the time and attention of the room.” It doesn’t get better than that, right? It really affirms everything I’m trying to do with DisruptHR.
What is your favorite DisruptHR Talk, and why?
My favorite talk is my first DisruptHR presentation — I guess you never forget your first time! It’s my favorite for two reasons. The first is because it was about the myth of authenticity, a topic about which I feel passionate. It’s also a subject that fits perfectly into the DisruptHR ethos.
The second reason is because I was incredibly nervous before presenting, especially given DisruptHR’s unique format. I applied to speak thinking I probably would not get accepted, so when I was, I thought, “Oh, crap! Can I really pull this off?”
I pulled it off! As clichéd as it sounds, I poured my heart into creating an engaging presentation. I practiced a lot. Like, A LOT! And after I was done, I felt immense satisfaction. I remember riding the subway home that night proud of my accomplishment and of forcing myself out of my comfort zone, particularly since I’d never given a public talk before.
Based off of the Talks and conversations at your events, what do you feel are the areas with the biggest opportunity for disruption?
I think every area of HR has great opportunity for disruption. Actually, I bet that the areas that people think are less susceptible to disruption are probably the ones that need is most. That’s why I always encourage people to share their ideas with everyone who will listen, and everyone who won’t. After all, everything great in the workplace (and in life) at one point started because someone had a crazy idea.
What excites you or frustrates you about the future of work, your career and/or DisruptHR?
There appears to be a belief that technology will either doom us or save us. The reality is that it will do both — but I don’t think it’s clear yet exactly how. There is no shortage of optimistic studies. There is no shortage of pessimistic studies. We just don’t know what the future will be like. That’s both scary and exciting. It also means that especially HR professionals have a responsibility not just to react to tech trends but to lead them.
That seat at the table that many HR execs craved for so long? Now they often have it. Great, what are you going to do with it? How will you advocate for your business AND your people? How will you ensure that you use new technology in meaningful ways? Frankly, I’m not sure that many HR pros know the answers to these questions. My hope, though, is that they recognize their responsibility to figure them out.
What’s Happening With DisruptHR New York: