My First State SHRM Leadership Conference as a New Volunteer HR Leader


By: Linda Hackbarth, SHRM-CP, PHR; Marketing Communications Director, Central WI SHRM

I had the pleasure of attending my first State SHRM Leadership conference in August.  This was my first such leadership conference in HR and I would like to take this time to reflect upon my enriching experiences and encourage other HR professionals to take the plunge and volunteer as a leader!

The benefits of attending this conference were numerous as a new HR volunteer leader.  The Boot Camp for “newbies” was fantastic and really helped me to understand how important volunteers are.  There were a few points that were a bit frightening when it came to Bylaws, rules, etc., but the presenter was so informational and helpful and put us all at ease.

The exchange of ideas at the round table discussions was by far the most beneficial.  We had attendees at my table with 15+years of volunteer leader experience to newbies with a few months under their belt. The expertise, brainstorming and of course socializing was immeasurable; did I mention they had wine you could enter to win to help support the foundation and a generous assortment of HR leadership books priced at 2 for $5.00?  I learned so many tricks to help balance my volunteer time and regular full time job and of course optimizing technology played a big role.

Presenters made an effort to ensure their presentations were as engaging as possible, incorporating real life experiences and stories to bring home the message.  My SHRM chapter leaders were there to show support and gain further insight into their roles as well.

I remember when I walked in to my very first local SHRM chapter meeting more than 20 years ago and feeling so overwhelmed with knowledge I did not have.  Through my local chapter conferences, state SHRM conferences and networking with other professionals, it did not take me long to fill my bucket of knowledge.  I was always so impressed by how well organized everything was and how they really cared about educating their members.

Through my career development into management and raising a family I did not think I could ever be on the local chapter board; there just was not enough time.   After 20+ years in the HR industry, I decided it was time for me to give back and volunteer my time so others (both new and subject matter experts) could continue to optimize their HR knowledge.  What a rewarding experience this has been!  Please consider volunteering and keep this in mind “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” Benjamin Franklin

Linda currently works as HR Officer, Bone & Joint Clinic, S.C.


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