Jonathan Moon represented the School at the National Association of Human Resources’ Masters Students Program in New York this November. Jill Smart, NAHR leader and former University of Illinois Trustee, helps to secure a space for an LER student representative to this event each year, and we are grateful to her!

The following are thoughts from Jonathan, along with images from the event, including a photo with Jill.

As I think back and gather my thoughts, perspective is the inescapable theme from one of the most valuable personal and professional development opportunities I have ever had.

The National Academy of Human Resources’ Masters Students Program, which I had the pleasure of attending in early November, was chock-full of esteemed perspectives. Perspectives on the field of HR as a career, as the vehicle to develop leaders, as the backbone of equity, and as the value that leaders provide an organization and its employees.

As part of an all-day event, I sat in hands-on learning sessions with roughly 20 other master’s students, led by two current CHROs and two renowned academics in the field of HR. We were encouraged by each leader to collaborate and participate in the sessions on topics ranging from flexible work to career pathing. Here the importance of perspective quickly came into focus. Over and over, subtly woven into each topic, was the incredible impact and value provided by perspective. When handling future issues of pay transparency, understanding the perspectives of business leaders, employees, and views or narratives from outside the organization – balancing each factor is critical for positive outcomes.

Similarly, perspective is key when we, as HR professionals, act as agents of change within an organization. We must simultaneously hold onto and account for the business case and the employee’s well-being. One leader stated: “We [HR] are the voice of the employees and the business.” In just a few short months of instruction at LER, nothing has been drilled home more often than the adage ‘know the business.’ It was encouraging to hear these exact words directed at us as career-altering advice from executives at the top of our field.

In the same vein, adding perspective to our HR careers can add the edge needed to be successful and help organizations adapt and grow. Another executive highlighted personal courage, willingness to make jumps, and gaining new industry and role perspectives as major components of their professional development and success. This was meaningful, as this CHRO has led HR at five vastly different organizations, each in unique sectors.  

My final touch point on this theme is that of my own perspective. Heading to NAHR’s annual event, I expected to be in rooms with HR leaders and executives with very different views, values, and concerns than my own. What I found instead was incredibly encouraging and has me more excited and poised than ever to jump into the field of HR. In a room of nearly 100 HR leaders and Fortune 500 executives, the voices continuously echoed concern, forward-thinking, and passion towards many of the same issues that led me to HR. With my newfound perspectives, I can say that I am happy to be one step closer to helping shape and improve the future of work.