a focus on people: kat cole and laszlo bock present at #shrm17

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This year, Kat Cole and Laszlo Bock are two of the four keynote speakers who will be sharing insights at the 2017 Annual SHRM Conference. For HR leaders who will be catching these two speakers live in New Orleans, here are five things to know about these speakers before they hit the stage.

  1. Cole began her career as a waitress at Hooters.

Now the Group President of Focus Brands and Chief Operating Officer of Cinnabon, Cole began her working days at Hooters. She covered every position from manager to cook. When she was 19 years old, she had her first international assignment with Hooters and was selected to open their first restaurant in Australia. She dropped out of college due to the demands of her global career, but eventually earned her MBA from Georgia State University,

  1. Cole continues to give back internationally.

As she shared with the Atlanta hub of the Global Shapers Community (an initiative of the World Economic Forum), Cole believes in creating partnerships and providing education to help villages move from poverty to economic stability. She travels to Rwanda two or three times a year to partner with local leaders with the intent of creating “shared success” that leads to important change.

  1. Cole was ranked #40 in Fortune’s 40 under 40 top young business stars in 2013.

In an interview with ABC News, Cole shared that every year her mother sends her a birthday card with the same message: “Don’t forget where you came from, but never let it define you.” She’s taken that message to heart, becoming President of Cinnabon at the age of 32 years old—a company she helped boost to selling 100 million cinnamon rolls a year and reaching $1 billion in sales. How did she achieve such professional success at a young age? She credits it to people.

“Every opportunity I’ve ever gotten has been almost a telephone game—a series of events that likely started like a line of dominos from one good thing I did with someone years ago,” Cole told ABC News.

  1. Bock began a career in HR because it was an undervalued practice area.

When Bock, the son of Romanian immigrant parents, decided to focus his career on HR, he says his colleagues told him he was “committing professional suicide.” He made that decision while working as a management consultant for McKinsey & Consultant because he felt having HR insight would help him stand apart from other consultants. He left McKinsey to become an HR leader for General Electric and then moved to Google where he spent10 years as the senior vice president of HR. When asked about his decision to work in HR, Bock told Workforce Magazine that he felt it was “the best way to influence how companies treated people.

  1. Bock wrote Work Rules! to share what worked from a people perspective at Google.

Bock saw there was some room for improvement when it came to managing people and expanded his reach regarding HR topics by publishing a book in 2015.

“We spend more time working than anything else. It’s not right that work be so demotivating and dehumanizing,” writes Bock in Work Rules!

In his book—described as a “playful manifesto”—he shares insights from Google as well as behavioral economics and psychology that focus on creativity, structure, and making work a part of a well-lived life. He offers four hiring principles to help teams succeed:

·      Set an uncompromisable high standard.

  • Find candidates on your own.
  • Put checks in place to assess candidates objectively.
  • Provide candidates with a reason to join.

Not only does Bock focus on hiring well, but he’s also dedicated to retaining and rewarding employees once they are part of the organization. He’s often credited with implementing Google’s unique workplace perks, such as free breakfast, lunch, dinner, and haircuts; hybrid car subsidies; on-site physicians, and nap pods.

Both Cole and Bock are passionate about the difference people make in an organization. I have no doubt that the general session audiences at #SHRM17 will walk away with insight and inspiration thanks to the passion these two keynote speakers will bring to the stage in New Orleans.

By liz sheffield
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