Meet The Disruptors: Mary Faulkner of DisruptHR Denver

Mary Faulkner

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.

Meet Mary Faulkner – DisruptHR Denver (Disruptor #4)

Blog – Surviving Leadership

LinkedIn – Mary Faulkner, SHRM-SCP

Twitter – @mfaulkner43

Who are you, and what do you do in your “day job”?

Mary Faulkner, Director of Talent, Denver Water (  / @DenverWater  / @DenverWaterJobs)

How did you first hear about DisruptHR?

I went to the first DisruptHR event in December 2013, which was held in Cincinnati because SOMEONE insisted I drive over from a conference I was speaking at in Indianapolis.

Why did you decide to raise your hand and become an organizer for DisruptHR events in Denver, Colorado?

The format lends itself to a unique networking opportunity – something Denver was sorely lacking. I also saw it as a great chance for local folks to get some speaking exposure.

But mostly, it’s the attitude. I felt strongly that HR in Denver needed a kick in the pants. We tend towards low-risk approaches to HR in Colorado (seriously) and the different voices too often get shouted down. I wanted to let the people who thought there’s a better way to have a platform.

How many DisruptHR events have you organized?

We’ve held 5 DisruptHR Denver events, and are in the process of planning our 6th.

Our first event was attended by about 100 people, but since then, we’ve grown each time, and had almost 300 attend the last one.

We’ve “sold out” our last few events, but still accept walk-ins. However, we monitor the headcount for safety reasons (because we’re in HR…).

What types of people typically attend your DisruptHR events?

HR practitioners for the most part, but we pull in startup folks, legal, business leaders, vendors, reluctant spouses, people who think we look like we’re having a good time, etc.

What are you most proud of that has come out of organizing DisruptHR events?

I’m proud of the fact that we focus on a cross-section of speakers. We intentionally look for local voices in various careers. We look for a non-HR business leader, HR people, consultants, motivational speakers, authors, experienced career folks, and young professionals.

We’re often a person’s first experience with public speaking – and I love that. I feel like we give a platform for people who are still finding their voice.

What kind of feedback have you received from participants in DisruptHR Denver events?

Many times, we hear that this is the best HR event they’ve ever been to. This makes me happy because it means people understand that HR events CAN be fun and informative and thought provoking and goofy. And that you don’t have to be one of the “cool kids” to participate.

Tough Question: What is your favorite DisruptHR Talk – and why?

GAH! Too many to choose from. [Editor’s note: We let Mary cheat a little, by choosing two.]

I really liked Nick Kittle’s Sniglets (Words are Power). Great use of humor to poke fun at our sacred cows.

Words Are Power | Nick Kittle | DisruptHR Talks from DisruptHR on Vimeo.

I also like Michelle Mamet’s Annie Get Your Nun – who knew nuns were so darn cool? And it really highlighted the importance of purpose for many orgs.

Annie Get Your Nun! (Or getting sh*t done in a habit) | Michele Stowe Mamet | DisruptHR Talks from DisruptHR on Vimeo.

I’m proud of all the talks – our event and others. Those people are putting themselves out there and that takes a lot of guts.

Based off of the Talks and conversations at your events, what do you feel are the areas with the biggest opportunity for disruption?

Finding solutions. We’ve poked holes in things – now what? How do we fix it? I continue to think we need HR to be more of a bridge between people and work.

What excites you or frustrates you about the future of work, your career and/or DisruptHR?

I’m concerned about the leadership vacuum we have out there. Many senior leaders I’ve seen aren’t helping to build the next generation of leaders – either because they set a poor example or they just don’t prioritize it. Coupled with the fact that so many orgs cut people development during the recession, we are now faced with a shortage of leaders who can talk to people and think beyond numbers and their own small empire.

The future of work means being able to connect the human element of working (creativity, innovation, relationship building) to the increasingly automated nature of the day-to-day. We lack people who can do that.


For more information on DisruptHR Denver (#DisruptHRden) and future events: 

DisruptHR Denver Community Page

DisruptHR Denver Facebook 

DisruptHR Denver Twitter

#DisruptHRden Twitter mentions

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