Ohio HR: HR Rocks and I Make Pizza

My friend Tammy Colson calls Steve Browne an “insane genius”.  She is correct.

As the Director of the recently concluded Ohio HR  conference, he chose a fun theme – HR Rocks – and then had vendors, presenters, and attendees spend their time immersed in the theme, listening to, looking at, and even dressed like rock stars. Steve himself opened the show in wig and with guitar in hand. (See the video of his opening act here.) There was no way to confuse this conference with any other.

I spent most of my conference time sitting in on sessions that focused on HR as a business function, not as a compliance, benefits, or health care administration department. The best of these sessions were “Making A Business Case To the C-Suite”, by Mark Stelzner, and “Transform From HR Leader to Business Leader” by Jennifer McClure. Both speakers were excellent as they discussed HR pros as business people first and foremost, and how speaking business language, not HR language, was one of the keys to strategic business success.

The most important thing I heard during my 2 day experience came during Jennifer’s session. She was discussing the need for HR pros to look at themselves as business functionaries. She used Steve Browne as an example:  “Ask Steve what he does for a living. He won’t say, “I’m the Executive Director of HR for LaRosa’s. He says, ‘I make pizza.’ ” Jennifer’s point was, of course, that Steve helps run the business – which is a chain of pizzerias. Making pizza is the main function of LaRosa’s, and Steve’s function in the long run. That kind of thinking is what HR needs more of.

It also shows that Steve is a genius, with or without the insane.