HR Florida


Florida State Council Affiliate of SHRM

Conference Cruise Recap

By Chad Sorenson

The HR Florida and Ohio SHRM State Councils partnered with Aspect Marketing to sponsor the 7th HR Conference Cruise in April.  We set sail on April 23rd for Haiti and the Bahamas. While some may think not much gets accomplished when surrounded by the trappings of a cruise, nothing could be further from the truth.

My experience at this conference was like none other.  As a speaker, most times when you finish your presentation, you move on and head to the next conference. You might stay for the next speaker, but then it’s time to go. Out at sea, we were a captive audience.  We were immersed in the HR Florida and Ohio SHRM hype – and I loved it.

Cruise attendees were eligible for 14 recertification hours, including the four “turf” webinars that happened before the cruise and included HR Florida’s own Heather Deyrieux. The conference not only added to our credentials, but it also gave each of us the opportunity to slow down and enjoy the moment.

Over the past 10 years or so, I have been part of the conference team for HR Florida’s annual conference.  Always planning. Always on the go. Rarely in an educational session. This time, I participated in every session. Whether it was Andre Young’s The Leader’s 7 Languages or Teela Jackson’s Talent Strategy 2022: The New Frontier, I was continuing my education with every day of the conference. 

But just as important as learning new strategies and identifying innovative ideas, were the relationships that developed from being together for an entire conference. Be it with the attendees or the other speakers, we truly got to know each other and become friends. This HR Conference crew of attendees traveled from Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and even Nebraska.

Like other conferences, our program opened with a dynamic and moving keynote. Ryan Campbell, the youngest person to fly around the world solo, told his story of record-breaking success. He then shared his paraplegic diagnosis that followed. We were stunned.  Turbulence Tough kicked off our conference in a way that made us all appreciate where we are today.

Our other speakers included Tony Fiore, Julie Doyle, Jerri Hall, Matt Kutz and Suzi Lemen. I was honored to be included among this group of speakers! My presentation focused on the strategic side of human resources. The other speakers presented on topics you would see at any other conference, such as Transforming Workplaces, Developing High Potentials, Soft Skills are the New Hard Skills and Creating a Culture of Integrity. However, unlike other conferences, the caliber and passion of this group of speakers was unprecedented. The content went in-depth and the conversations that followed were priceless.

When employers talk about work-life balance, or as I like to say, life-work balance, the HR Conference Cruise is a great way to set the example for others. You rest, learn, and play. In the end, with the cost of the cruise and the conference, it actually works out to be the same, or even less, than paying to send someone to a three-day conference and cover the travel, hotel, meals and registration.  You come away with vocational knowledge and that vacation feeling. Some of us were lucky enough to have a spouse or significant other cruising alongside us.

Thanks to Mike Medoro of Aspect Marketing, and his team for making this happen.  After postponing the cruise a number of times due to the pandemic, it was nice to finally set sail.  We are looking forward to partnering with this group again for the next conference…as is my wife.

Who knew the cruise ship had a conference center?  By the way – it holds nearly 400 people.  See you on the next HR conference cruise.