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Sharp Suits & the Rise of EQ: Talent Summit 2020

By March 11, 2020September 11th, 2020No Comments

It was a day of bright sunshine and even brighter ideas.  With the theme of ‘The Rise of Humanity at Work,” Talent Summit 2020 was a triumph, with a packed agenda that drew to a close with a searing, cerebral keynote speech by Bob Geldof, delivered with his trademark wit and, of course, a few carefully chosen expletives. This is a man who doesn’t mince his words. Or his message (more on Bob’s speech later).

Robert in deep conversation with Bob in the post-keynote interview

With hand sanitisers positioned right inside the door, the day also served as a potent reminder that we’ve entered an era in which the only certainty is uncertainty,  and Covid19 is just yet another massive disruptor, nor will it be the last.

It was entirely appropriate, then, that the key themes that emerged over the course of the day were adaptability, agility, resilience, empathy, leadership and emotional intelligence.  In the future, and right now in fact, these attributes are going to be key to living and working successfully alongside, and together with, our fellow human beings.  (if you’re looking for speakers on these topics, just search our site and you’ll find them).

Dr Jochen Mendes with a slide showing the high ranking that the WEF is giving EQ in business

The team at Sigmar Recruitment had crafted a schedule that promised a lively mix of panel discussions, presentations and in-depth interviews.  It was a blend that kept momentum going and, more importantly, got people talking, aided by the consummate MC skills of Sigmar founder Robert MacGiolla Phadraig, resplendent in a blue suit so sharply cut that, in a private briefing earlier in the day, Sir Bob pressed him for the tailor’s number.

The cumulative effect of that schedule proved to be the real success of the event, as over the day it built up a nuanced, complex and highly informed picture of the challenges and opportunities currently facing the HR sector across a wide range of industries, and how we can address them.

Here is our summary of the hot topics and key insights you need to know about.

Aidan McCullen highlighted the need for companies to bear in mind the need for constant reinvention

On Leadership

We’ve made leadership into something out of people’s reach, but in doing so we deny the existence of leadership in our everyday lives.  We don’t need to devalue the great efforts or successes of others, but we do need to celebrate the leadership we see very day – in the workplace, at home, amongst our friends.  Leadership is everywhere,  and in everyone. It can be cultivated, so let’s do it ourselves and encourage it in others. 

In a digital world, ethics, responsibility and empathy are the leadership competencies the workplace – and workforce – needs.

Leaders must successfully inspire people to pursue collective goals and collaborate in ways that contribute to their productivity, well-being and happiness.

One of the panels of the day looked at the changing role of the CHRO

On changes in HR’s function

People today want to talk about getting the most out of people, helping them reach their potential.  The sector is becoming more transformational than transactional, but the EQ piece remains very tricky to get right.  When it is right though, it creates huge value.  

There’s more of a focus on business; HR today needs to understand business more. It’s all about understanding the value chain of the business 

Wellness is more important than ever, with 50% of people in one survey saying they are not happy in their job/work.  Workplaces need to put wellness programmes in place that can change this.  

The great HR leader of today is predictive, not reactive. They anticipate trends in behaviour and thinking and act accordingly.

In a world where disruption is becoming the default setting, trust is essential.  The Chief HR Officer (CHRO) is the Chief Trust Officer of the future; they need to be relatable, empathetic, responsible.

Matthew Kearney of EY on the changing face of HR responsibilities

On Purpose

Personal values and social activism have taken root in the workplace. Corporate and talent leaders need to do more to reflect their people’s desire to do more around climate action and sustainability.

As a leader, you cannot lead with purpose if you do not cultivate – and communicate – empathy and compassion.

And finally, to Bob.  Bob Geldof is nothing if not a polymath.  He is curious about everything, challenges everything and has a worldview in which everything is first considered and then whittled down to the essentials. It’s the polemicist’s version of zero-waste.

Sigmar Founder Padraig MacGiolla Phadraig and keynote speaker Bob Geldof sit on a sofa off stage doing a final briefing

Robert giving Bob a final briefing, but true to style, Bob went far beyond the brief

Politics, activism, social movements, sustainability, human nature, leadership and, not least, technology and the threats and opportunities it brings – all of these were touched on in his speech and, afterwards, in a reflective interview with Robert MacGiolla Phadraig.

More than anything else, Bob’s speech was an invitation to us all to remember and cultivate our humanity now more than ever.  It was also a powerful call to action:   to be alert to the forces that seek to threaten and undermine that humanity, to inform ourselves using real facts and not fake news, to remember the profound importance and power of genuine human connection and, above all, to remain hopeful and purposeful in the face of continued uncertainty.

What a message.  What a day.  Thank you, to all the speakers, and also to the team at Sigmar.

The view as we descended the escalators and headed home











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