by Song Nguyen
GEA Business Coordinator
Before attending the GEA Fall Conference last week, I had only been to one other similar event. As an intern several years ago at Emory University, I attended a medical conference. I regret to say that I fell asleep during the presentations (and I wasn’t the only one).
I was looking forward the opportunity to attend the Lake Oconee conference, but didn’t really know what to expect. After meeting a few of the speakers at dinner the night before, I began to understand that this event would be much more engaging than my previous experience.
And a remarkable conference it was! The speakers were exceptionally knowledgeable on their topics and gave attendees a wealth of useful information from their personal experiences. Attorneys from Constangy, Brooks, Smith, & Prophete and Leonard Bevill from Macon Occupational Medicine told personal stories of cases they’ve encountered and offered advice on how to handle tough issues. Attendees had the opportunity to ask questions about their own situations and received valuable suggestions from other attendees and presenters. After hearing all the terrific questions asked during the presentations, I’m sure every attendee found the conference to very beneficial.
The most interesting insight I gained during the conference came from Jeff Thompson’s presentation about avoiding harassment and discrimination issues. Jeff did a hands-on exercise with the attendees, and it made me realize the importance of response time when an employee brings an issue to the attention of a supervisor and HR. Jeff said something that struck me as simple but effective, “Ask the employee what they would like to be done about the situation and see to it that it is done.” If employees know that their employer will take care of them, it greatly increases employee satisfaction and loyalty.
I also had the pleasure of meeting the brilliant Terri McCrea, Senior HR Manager at DSC Logistics, at dinner during networking. Business students don’t really learn a lot about HR, and Terri was nice enough to provide her take on the profession. I hadn’t realized how diverse the issues are that HR professionals must face. Terri explained that problems are rarely as clear as black and white, and HR professionals must be ready at all times to face difficulties head on. She thinks that GEA is a fantastic resource that helps HR professionals prepare for any situation they may face.
I hope everyone enjoyed the GEA Fall Conference as much as I did. I look forward to seeing many of you again at our Spring Conference in Savannah in April!