When I was approached by UNLEASH to be part of the HR Tech World Amsterdam Blog Squad I reacted like a little boy hearing Santa was bringing him PlayStation 4 for Christmas.

I jumped around the room, squealed in an incredibly un-macho way and acted like an enormous man-child. It was brilliant, and thankfully nobody was there to see it – I don’t think I could live with the shame.

Straight after that, I soon(ish) realised that this isn’t just going to be a jolly day out in Amsterdam and a chance to look at some shiny new HR tech toys. There is a serious side to all this as well. I’ll need to put my networking pants on and work the room.

I’m going to be in the same building as some heavyweights of the business world – the likes of Arianna Huffington and Josh Bersin, and another 150 odd speakers that I’d like to listen to.

In addition to that, there’s a whole host of folk with “Chief” at the beginning of their job titles, some of the most innovative HR tech thought leaders in the world and some great HR people who are doing groundbreaking stuff in their organisations – who are all there as delegates.

As well as all that, I committed to doing some live broadcasts and record some interviews from HR Tech World for my #ChatTalent series (yes, that’s a blatant plug), and write a blog or three.

My standard approach to events is to rock up and play it by ear. I like to see myself as a free spirit, uncontrolled by convention or schedules. That means I usually find myself randomly choosing to attend sessions that I wish I hadn’t, I drink far too much coffee, and I feel disappointed afterwards that I didn’t get much out of the event.

Not this time! I don’t want this event to be like that. I want maximum learning absorption and networking opportunities, and of course, I need to do my #ChatTalent stuff.

I need a plan.

So, I’ve made one – and I thought I’d share it with you. Just in case you’re looking for inspiration – or want to know how to avoid running into me.

Day 0 – Travelling – Monday 23rd October

08:00 – Pack my bags (I’m a last-minute panic-packer)

09:00 – Drive to the airport

09:30 – Turnaround and drive to the correct airport

11:00 – Arrive at the airport, check-in, grab a sandwich/horrible burger

13:30 – Get on the plane, take off, fly etc

15:20 – Arrive at Schiphol Airport, go through customs, (hopefully) avoid any invasive search, collect luggage.

16:00 – Wander around the airport, while deciding how best to get to (what looks like) a lovely Airbnb apartment.

17:00 – Arrive at my apartment by my chosen form of transportation. Freshen up in preparation for dinner and a couple of beers with my good friends at Vonq.

18:00 21.00 – Eat said dinner, drink said beers. Decide whether to stay out longer. Probably make the wrong decision.

22:00 or 23:59 or 02:00 – Get back to my apartment, go to bed.


Day 1 of the Event – Tuesday 24th October

08:30 – Arrive for registration and networking, either feeling invigorated after a good nights sleep or still cross-eyed from a lack of it.

08:55 – 09:10 – Decide which of the 3 MCs welcome speeches I want to listen to – Bill Boorman, Johnny Campbell or Jason Averbook – and probably decide on Jason Averbook on the Main Stage, as I’m planning to check out Bill & Johnny later via other sessions.

09:10 – 09.45 – A mad dash over to Hall 10 where Josh Bersin (a bit of a hero of mine #fanboy) will be hosting “The HR software market reinvents itself: a new marketplace is here”. As someone who prides himself on having his finger on the pulse of HR tech, this is a must for me…and I get to be a fanboy.

09:45 – 10:15 – Another mad dash, this time to the Forum Hall for “The Rebel Alliance” (great Star Wars reference) where Bill Boorman will be leading a panel that includes Tasha Cluskey and Anna Ott. They’ll be discussing how they’ve achieved some amazing results by taking a sledgehammer to the more conventional ways their companies have traditionally done things. I like a bit of rebellion, so this is right up my street.

10:15 10:40 – A little networking, maybe a coffee and hopefully my first #ChatTalent interview with a yet to be identified delegate. Maybe I’ll squeeze two interviews in, at a push.

10:40 11:00 – Now it’s time to check out Paola Bonomo on the Expo Floor as she talks “Funding Strategies for Your HR Tech Startup” fascinating stuff I’m sure, and invaluable advice for me to share with my tech startup friends who can’t attend HR Tech World.

11:00 11:15 – A “comfort break”. I hate that phrase, but I’m trying to behave. A chance to meander to the next session, rather than attempting to sprint like a ‘slightly’ overweight Usain Bolt.

11:1511:30 – I’m looking forward to this one, being a big stat and data geek at heart. My old pal David Green from IBM will be speaking on “People Analytics: Market Trends and Innovations”, over at E104 (I’ll figure out where that is, I’m sure).

11:30 – 11:40 – Another friend, this time Adam Gordon from Candidate.ID on the Expo Floor. He’ll be talking about “Automating Talent Nurture” ­– specifically how to reduce your time to shortlist massively, and still deliver a personalised candidate experience.

11:45 – 12:05 – That’s enough nepotism, time to check out some people I don’t yet know. I’m looking forward to rushing back to the Main Stage and listening to China Gorman and the panel she’s leading on “Female Founders – Breaking Tech’s Glass Ceiling”. A topic I wish was irrelevant in 2017, but as it isn’t, I’m glad we have the likes of Ida Tin and Urška Sršen tackling it.

12:10 – 12:30 – Embracing Unruliness in the Workplace” – how could I not join this session hosted by Sarah Wood on the Main Stage? It’s right up my street, especially after a morning of behaving myself and sitting (relatively) nicely!

12:30 – 14:30 – It’s time to do some #ChatTalent stuff – interviews lined up and ready to go. These will be my first attempts at doing live broadcasts so it could get messy – but it will no doubt still be fun!

14:30 – 15:00 – The robots are coming for us! Run for the hills! Only joking, I’m fascinated by the potential of AI & machine learning, and what it can do for us humans. That’s why I’m joining Nick Bostrum for his talk around “The Future of Machine Intelligence” over on the main stage.

15:00 – 16:45 – More #ChatTalent stuff, more interviews with interesting folk.

16:45 – 17:15 – It’s time for the big Day 1 finale! “Live & Unleashed…” with Arianna Huffington and Josh Bersin

17:15 – 18:30 – “Drinks and networking” on the Expo Floor – time for a few last-minute Day-1 #ChatTalent interviews (possibly), but certainly time to treat myself with a drink after a busy day.

18:30 – bedtime – I’ve been invited to a plethora of after show parties and other such events. I’ll unquestionably be deciding which ones of those to go to closer to the day – depending on where the fun people are hanging out!


Day 2 of the Event – Wednesday 24th October

You’re probably bored of reading about my plan now. That’s cool, I’m bored of writing and planning it – so I’ve decided to let my free spirit reign supreme on the second day, and see where the wind blows me.

A whole day of sticking rigidly to a schedule is plenty for me and given I can’t predict when “bedtime” for day one is likely to be; I think playing by ear on the 2nd day is a safe bet.

Whatever happens, whether I stick to my plans or not, I’m sure it’s going to be a fantastic day full of brilliant content, ideas, people and technology.

I’m still just as excited now as when I first heard the news I was going, and I’m looking forward to seeing you there.


Thanks for reading, especially as this is my first HRN blog. I’ll be doing another after the event, as well as some live broadcasts and recorded interviews for #ChatTalent during it. If you’d like to get involved, let me know – I’d love to meet you.