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Breakout & Keynote Session Descriptions


Morning Keynote
Session 1 Breakouts
Lunch Keynote
Session 2 Breakouts
Session 3 Breakouts

Time   Program
7:30 to 8:15   Registration and Continental Breakfast
8:15 to 8:30   Welcome
8:30 to 9:30  


Morning Keynote


Ross Bernstein - The Champion’s Code: Life Lessons of Ethics and Accountability from the Sports World to the Business World

Ross' program is based on a series of books he wrote in which he was able to interview more than 500 professional athletes and coaches that all had one thing in common — they were all members of championship teams. In his research he concluded that the same metrics and characteristics that were common among champions in sports, were also common in peak performers in business. As he learned, champions have a very unique DNA — and his goal in this keynote session is to get audience members thinking about their own DNA — and about the DIFFERENTIATORS they possess which would ultimately lead customers to CHOOSE to do business with them. At the core of his message is the simple fact that we like to do business with people who we trust, who we like, and who just “get it” — CHAMPIONS.

In an engaging, provocative, and visually entertaining style, Ross will use inspirational stories and poignant life lessons from the world of sports to show attendees how to:

• Create a “culture of excellence” by giving extraordinary customer service…
• Generate momentum by utilizing the "currency of karma"...
• Follow their moral compasses to win "the right way," with respect and integrity...
• Be better leaders and create more "buy-in" by embracing change and failure...
• Evolve from "order takers" to "trusted partners" by enhancing the quality of their relationships...

9:30 to 9:45   Break
9:45 to 11:00  

Breakout Session 1

1-A Give Your Employees C.R.A.P…and 7 Other Secrets to Employee Retention, Jeff Kortes

Jeff provides a “headhunter’s” insight into the thoughts and reasoning of employees who decide or are contemplating leaving their jobs in various organizations.  Through humorous, real-life stories and interactive participation, Jeff has created a program that can be either a KEYNOTE or BREAKOUT session which helps participants discover ways to gain a competitive edge when trying to retain talent. 
Because Jeff is a “headhunter” in addition to having 25 years in Human Resources leadership roles prior to starting his own company, he gives you an eye opening glimpse into what motivates solid performers to consider leaving their employers and what gets them thinking that “the grass is greener” on the other side of the fence.
Attendees will hear real life comments from candidates Jeff has attempted to recruit that the candidate will never admit in an exit interview with human resources or tell their boss.  Jeff provides unique insight why solid performers leave an organization.  The comments will enlighten participants so they can take a critical look at their employee retention process and begin taking immediate action to address gaps in their employee retention process both strategically and tactically.  


1-B  Ethical Decision Making for Leaders, Richard Kyte

Ethical decision making is one of the chief responsibilities of leaders in organizations. This program will present an overview of ethical decision making, including a method for working through and communicating difficult decision with coworkers, clients, and the public. By the end of this session, participants will come away/be able to:

  1. Facilitate constructive ethical decision making for groups
  2. Communicate ethical decisions clearly and persuasively
  3. Facilitate the development and communication of the organization’s core values and ethical behaviors 
  4. Reinforce the organization’s core values and behavioral expectations through modeling, communication, and coaching.


1-C Race to Equity: Off the Starting Line and Into the Race, Vernon Blackwell, Deirdre Hargrove-Krieghoff, MBA, Steve King, SPHR,  Anthony Dix, MBA, SPHR  and Heather Kennedy

You’ve likely heard, read, or seen the results of the 2013 Race to Equity Report completed by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families for Dane County. Perhaps your organization has had some great successes toward creating more equitable workplaces. Perhaps you have even started looking at your own workplace and have wondered how HR can make a difference. Perhaps you don’t even know where to start.  Regardless of where you are, this workshop will have something for you.  GMA SHRM has joined with the Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM), member of the Madison Area Diversity Roundtable (MADR), and a local business leader to discuss and share best practices on improving equity in the workplace; give you ideas and tools on how to start; and let you know how you can continue your own advocacy, growth, and participation in this important topic through the GMA SHRM sponsored Race the Equity Resource Group.  

In this workshop, you will:

  • Hear from two MADR members about what they are doing in their organizations to improve equity. 
  • Hear from a local business leader who has parntered with ULGM on successes and what makes a successful partnership.
  • Have the opportunity to ask questions about first steps or next steps.
  • Walk away with a tool to help you assess the level of equity within your own workplace to help start or continue conversations with your leadership teams.  

 11:00 to 12:00   Lunch, Announcements and Recognition
 12:00 to 1:00  


Afternoon Keynote

Carol Grannis and Cindy Maher Reaching Resonance: Leading with Emotional Intelligence

It may be no surprise that the manager sets the tone for either a positive workplace climate (resonance) or a negative and toxic climate (dissonance). What may surprise you is that a resonant workplace has a direct impact to the bottom line. In fact, according to the latest research, for every one percent improvement in the climate, there’s a two percent increase in revenue.

Leaders recognize their emotional impact on others, and how it affects engagement and innovation. Skills around listening, being present, and building relationships are at the core of the session. The workshop is completely transformational; learners leave with skills that move them forward, not just at work, but at home as well.


 1:00 to 1:15   Break
 1:15 to 2:30  

Breakout Session 2

2-A The Positive Power of Servant Leadership, Tom Thibideau

Every workplace is experiencing three challenges of increased human need, scarce resources, and higher levels of accountability. Servant led organizations are meeting these challenges head on by creating cultures which are committed to meeting the legitimate needs of all the people they serve. In this presentation we will talk about being a servant and being a leader and creating a culture where both are possible.

We will:

1. Identify and define servant leadership.
2. Emphasize the power of service.
3. Define what it means to create a servant led culture.


2-B  A Reputation of Kindness: Building a Kindness Culture, Carol Grannis and Cindy Mahers

How kind is your culture? Do your teams serve each other and your customers with the kindness and respect that support your organization’s reputation? Or do your employees come from a place of superiority, rigid policies, and difficult interactions? This session is designed to wake you up and build your awareness around how you and others show up. It’s about building your team’s credibility and brand. More importantly, it is designed to help you build a team and organization that you can be proud of. Be prepared for a different, transformative kind of keynote as Leading Edge founders Cindy Maher and Carol Grannis teach through live-action theatre and interactive exercises. Learning


  • Choose to be more present and really listen to internal and external customers during conversations in person and on the phone
  • Manage interactions using the Human-Business Model to support better outcomes
  • Respond with empathy and mirroring when the customer is going through difficulty
  • Identify the impact of respect and equality in your customer relationships
  • Follow the four-step map when you need to say no
  • Consider how the level of service affects your credibility and reputation



2-C Employment Law Update, Jennifer Mirus and Andrew DeClercq 

The world of employment law continues to evolve and create potential pitfalls for employers.  HR professionals who stay up with current developments are able to protect their organizations and help develop policies and practices that promote effective management. 

In this program, Attorneys Jennifer Mirus and Andrew DeClercq of Boardman & Clark LLP will examine hot topics that affect the day-to-day interactions between employers and their employees. 
Issues to be addressed will include:
  • Wage and hour update
  • Same sex marriage impacts on the workplace
  • ACA update
  • Key cases under federal and state law
  • Key legislative developments
You will learn:
  • What the latest laws and court decisions are telling us about our workplaces
  • Key HR information managers must know to protect your organization



 2:30 to 2:45   Break
 2:45 to 4:00  

Breakout Session 3

3-A The HR Professional Competency Model: A Road Map for Success,  Nancy Conway

If you or your organization want to understand the critical technical and behavioral competencies needed for individual success and growth at all levels of an HR career, come to this session. 

You will learn about the HR Professional Competency Model, which SHRM recently developed to allow HR professionals to systematically analyze their competency needs and to help organizations develop performance appraisal tools and other HR systems.  

In addition, you will learn how several SHRM competency self-development tools can accelerate your professional growth and increase your ability to contribute to the success of your organization.  There is also a component on SHRM Certification.



3-B What got you here, isn’t going to get you there:  American Family’s HR Transformation Story, Kari Lauritsen, SPHR and Tracy Schweitzer

The competitive landscape for businesses continues to change, including increased customer demands, and that is no different for the insurance industry. HR teams need to step up their game to provide even more value to the business to meet these challenges. That means HR needs to refocus and re-engineer itself.  Come to this session to hear the story about the American Family HR transformation and how they are changing their approach to HR.   

Attendees of this program will learn:

  • How to identify when it’s time to change.
  • How to identify why it’s important to change.
  • The importance of HR as a leader of change.




3-C Employment Law Update, Jennifer Mirus and Andrew DeClercq 

The world of employment law continues to evolve and create potential pitfalls for employers.  We have seen record numbers of discrimination filings and government audits, and HR professionals must stay up with current developments to protect their organizations.
In this program, Attorneys Jennifer Mirus and Andrew DeClercq of Boardman & Clark LLP will examine hot topics that affect the day-to-day interactions between employers and their employees.
Issues to be addressed will include:
  • Wage and hour issues that can lead to liability
  • Key unemployment compensation law changes 
  • The evolving legal world of background checks
  • Key cases under federal and state law
  • Key legislative developments
  • ACA update
You will learn:
  • How technology continues to pose legal risks to employers
  • What the latest laws and court decisions are telling us about our workplaces
  • Key HR information managers must know to protect your organization


 4:00 to 5:00   Networking Reception







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