DisruptHR Madison: Interview With Rebecca Ryan

RebeccaRyan2Rebecca Ryan has been described as a “human sparkplug.” She is the founder of NEXT Generation Consulting, the resident futurist at the Alliance for Innovation and AGRiP, a senior advisor at the Governing Institute, a senior fellow at CEOs for Cities, and a faculty member at the Institute for Zen Leadership. 

Rebecca is also the author of The Next Big Things: The Future of Local Government (2015), ReGENERATION: A Manifesto for America’s Next Leaders (2013), and Live First, Work Second: Getting Inside the Head of the Next Generation (2007). She has won several awards, including Entrepreneur of the Year by the U.S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, “100 Most Influential” by Accounting Today, and Thought Leader by CPA Practice Advisor. 

Rebecca will be one of the speakers at DisruptHR’s event in Madison this week. For more information about the event, visit the DisruptHR Madison page.

HR Gazette: Why did you decide to be a speaker at DisruptHR Madison?

Rebecca: I was asked by two women who are committed to disrupting the HR space in Madison. I love helping other women and thought it would be a good place to briefly reflect on 20 years in this biz.

HR Gazette: What will you be speaking about at DisruptHR Madison?

Rebecca: Three Truths and a Lie. And forgive me, but I don’t want to give away which is the lie, so my lips are sealed until the night of the big show.

HR Gazette: The DisruptHR format means you only get 5 minutes to speak to the audience. What unique challenges and opportunities does such a condensed speaking slot offer?

Rebecca: Brevity. Clarity. (Did you see how I modeled that, there?)

HR Gazette: How does DisruptHR provide you with a platform to talk about Talent, Tech and HR in new ways?

Rebecca: The event’s name encourages novelty. Sort of like a permission slip from the principal to be naughty.

HR Gazette: You’re well known in the HR space. Please share 2 or 3 other ‘influencers’ in HR and Talent who you follow.

Rebecca: Jason Lauritsen and Joe Gerstand of Talent Anarchy.

HR Gazette: The HR Gazette is a big believer in the shift from traditional thoughts of HR to embracing modern HR as part of ‘people and culture‘. What does ‘people and culture’ mean to you?

Rebecca: I was never indoctrinated into the “old way” of thinking about HR, so “People and Culture” is all I’ve ever known. This question is like asking a fish to comment on the water.

HR Gazette: Name 2-3 HR tech tools you use regularly, e.g. for payroll, and tell us why you use them.


  • Expensify – Beats Neat all to hell
  • My accountant & QB Pro Online – they keep me out of prison

HR Gazette: In 10 words or less tell us what Disrupting HR means to you.

Rebecca: It means going deeper into the WHY of this work. Why does “HR” exist? Does it even need to exist? If it were gone, what would be missing? If HR wouldn’t be missed at your organization, you’re doing it wrong.

HR Gazette: Finally.. if you could be a superhero, which superhero would you be and why?

Rebecca: One of the Wonder Twin Powers in the form of water, because I think it takes at least two people to really activate our superpowers. And water always takes the path of least resistance.

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