DisruptHR Cayman: Interview with Chris Bailey
Chris Bailey was the main organizer of DisruptHR Cayman. We were fortunate enough to not only go down to the conference but also sit down with Chris and ask him a few questions.
Chris has developed a considerable skill set in business development, HR, Talent Acquisition and outsourcing through a successful career covering several jurisdictions including Europe, Bermuda, and Grand Cayman. By being involved in the local and international business community, through memberships and board appointments, Chris has developed a keen understanding of issues facing businesses in offshore jurisdictions, specifically in areas of talent acquisition, staff retention, outsourcing, and HR strategy and practices.
HR Gazette: Tell me a little bit about why you first decided to start the DisruptHR Cayman event?
Chris: I want to say this is probably the 3rd or 4th conference I’ve put on in the Cayman Islands, but it’s actually our 13th annual HR conference over here. Every year I look for something different and when I brought Jen down here for a conference a few years ago, she hinted that she wanted to do something with a similar format to DisruptHR. We kept in touch for the next proceeding months and she eventually said, “Yep, I’m definitely doing it.” I’ve watched a few of the DisruptHR events online, and noticed the ball was rolling. So I felt that I really needed to get in on the action before someone else did.
For me, it was two-fold. First off, I wanted to be the first person to put this event on in the Caribbean and second, I loved the idea and the speakers. I’ve been in contact with big “heavyweight” speakers who I didn’t realize were also these superstar speakers. So the likes of William Tincup, Tim Sackett, or Dawn Hrdlica-Burke, and then obviously Jennifer McClure all said yes to coming to Cayman. I don’t know what possessed them! Most of them came down for a week to do a couple of days worth of speaking, but we tried to give them a warm reception and welcome. I think the island itself does a really great job attracting people to come down.
The main thing, from a DisruptHR perspective, is that the conferences are great, but they’re a little bit more non-traditional in nature, but the format is very traditional. Normally you’ll have a keynote speaker that presents for an hour, and they’ll tell you some great things, especially when you have great speakers like Jennifer, William, Tim and Chris Dunn. What I liked about DisruptHR was that it wasn’t formulaic, and anything can happen (and it frequently does). You give a speaker 5 minutes, 20 slides, and about 15 seconds to get through each one, and they often get lost. It happened last night, and it was great! It makes people realize that these speakers are real and what they’re talking about is real.
One of the speakers last night named Kobi Dorenbush, a former CEO of a bank on the island, had a incredible story. To be able to put his story into an HR context, you couldn’t do that in a regular format. You could literally hear a pin drop in that room last night when he was speaking, which reveals how interested people were in his story and why it happened. His message was that things happen, and it’s going to happen to you at some point. So I’m pleased that we were able to put together a line-up of speakers that covered everything, from what happens in business through ways to awaken the Force. It just seemed that the audience was bursting with energy and wanting to enjoy it. They wanted to enjoy something different, and that’s what DisruptHR is…different.
HR Gazette: There were 13 speakers last night, so who’s in your top 3 and why?
Chris: That’s a tough one! I have the utmost respect and admiration for Jen, William, Chris, Tim, and Carmen, all of whom are professionals. Each of them gives you something special, and they all delivered whole-heartedly last night.
For me, though, there were probably three speakers that didn’t have the presentation experience compared to others. It may have been their 2nd or 3rd time doing something like this. Marzeta Bodden comes to mind because upon completing her session, she began crying due to nerves. She finished feeling so relieved that she started shedding a few tears. Marzeta was the woman who encourged me to do a TED talk, so to put her through a similar discomfort was brilliant. I felt she did an incredible job of getting out of her comfort zone, which was the topic of her discussion.
Additionally, I really enjoyed Kobi’s message. Again, it was very different from those preceding him. To open the second half of the show with something as hard hitting and entertaining as this, was incredible. We had challenges of putting movie lines within the presentations throughout the conference, and he had the “show me the money” line, which was funny, considering his presentation was about losing all of his money.
Lastly, Virginia Czarnocki discussed how people deal with stress in the workplace. Again, she nailed it. So for me to watch some homegrown talent, whom are not used to speaking at this capacity, especially amongst experienced professionals was one of the highlights for me! The whole evening was a highlight, so don’t quote me out of context!
HR Gazette: Thanks, Chris.