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Tampa Bay business leaders bring energy, heart to Disrupt HR

Catherine Cheshire



Every seat was taken at DisruptHR last Thursday evening. Held at the atmospheric and buzz-worthy Armature Works—a vast historic building turned mixed-use community space overlooking downtown Tampa’s Hillsborough River—the event sold out, twice. That’s good news for Tampa Bay’s human capital community, especially for those looking to level up their people and culture practices.

DisruptHR is a global talk platform that brings together all professionals interested in shaking up the status quo in HR. In DisruptHR’s own words, the locally organized events are “an information exchange designed to energize, inform and empower people in the HR field.”

Think of DisruptHR as a TEDx for HR. Locally-organized events are held in cities in every state in the country, and multiple countries including Russia, Germany, Kuala Lumpur, the UK and others.

Tampa joins some 128 global cities creating a community forum for elevating the HR conversation—thanks to the folks at LivingHR, a local HR consulting firm, who organized the event and attracted big-name sponsors.

Keri Higgins-Bigelow, CEO and founder of LivingHR, talked with the Catalyst about the goals of DisruptHR: “It’s not just HR people talking to HR people; it’s talking about what businesses need from HR.”

Traditionally viewed as a cost center, and a necessary administrative burden, HR has found its seat at in the C Suite, and is viewed as mission-critical for any company seeking culture-fit, high-potential talent. “People strategy” is at the heart of business strategy for most successful companies, and this fact was not wasted on the CEOs, CHROs and other human capital pros attending DisruptHR.

Fourteen speakers got five minutes each to discuss the ways they’re disrupting people operations in their companies. HR execs, CEOs, a CAO and an industrial psychologist presented their ideas for disruptive workplaces, with slides moving every 15 seconds. The format lent itself to a fast paced, information-packed set of presentations.

Business found its heart at DisruptHR.

The main talking points were culture, inclusion and purpose. Employees are looking to connect to a larger sense of meaning. We all need to know that our jobs matter, that we matter, and that our efforts are contributing to a mission that matters.

Six major takeaways from the speakers:

  1. The 8 P’s of success. Bisk’s culture transformation expert, Misty Brown, shared her 8 P’s for successful cultures: Purposes, Practices, People, Places, Permission (to fail), Philanthropy, Passion and Patience. “There is no better way to bring people together than an outside cause,” she said.
  2. Vulnerability is key. “90% of what we create gets killed,” said Spark’s Dulani Porter, when speaking about the importance of creating a culture in which your team can be vulnerable. A sense of belonging lets your team arrive at the amazing ideas via the many that get thrown out.
  3. Social networks in the workplace. WilsonHCG’s Kim Pope talked about her company’s “Book of Failures”—a source of inspiration and information for future ideas—and the importance of innovative social networks within the organization.
  4. Best practices in hiring. Industrial psychologist Craig Dawson, Ph.D said, “Your best hires are 10 times more impactful than your average hires.” He also said that 90% of us think we are above average…so we might do well to listen in on how to hire the best.
  5. If you want top talent, prepare for disruption. Tony Moore, an HR consultant, made the point that employers focus on hiring “top talent” without asking if they are really ready for the disruption top talent might bring.
  6. Strong benefits = strong loyalty. Mercer’s Susan Klinefelter explained how in companies with programs that provide strong benefits for employees, loyalty is actually increasing. Employees are interested in compensation and 401K, primarily, and well-being (emotional and and a sense of belonging) second.

To check out all 14 speakers and their slide decks, check back to

Videos will be uploaded soon.

These videos are worth your time if:

  • You want to be a part of the local conversation about where HR is headed
  • You want to lift up your own workplace culture

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