World leaders converge to rewrite the HR and Worktech playbook at Asia’s largest HR & Worktech conference, People Matters TechHR 2020


The current COVID-19 crisis has called for rewriting the HR and Worktech playbook. It is about embarking on a journey of opportunities, of resetting your focus, accelerating your impact for now and “bouncing forward” to the next. People Matters TechHR 2020 that was held from 10th – 14th August brought together the most progressive business & HR Leaders, HR Analysts, and HR Technology experts & Worktech startups from around the globe with an aim to shine the light on the great reset and to find the new ways to rewrite the playbook. In the times that we are living in today, the talent environment has gone through a drastic transformation with millions of jobs being lost and many new jobs being created. The International Labor Organization has predicted that 50% of people in the world will get affected both in terms of jobs and livelihood due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic combined with the 4th Industrial Revolution. People Matters TechHR India 2020 was the ultimate platform to find some answers and solutions to the many problems that have come up in this new world of work.

The 5-day virtual conference witnessed leaders and influencers from across the globe deliberating upon innovative ways of progressing in a world of work that has transformed drastically due to the disruption caused by the pandemic.

As Asia’s largest HR and Worktech conference, it hosted over 5,000+ HR & business leaders from 42 countries, 90 global speakers and 104 content sessions. Through the 5 days, 12,747 connections were made, 33,543 discussions were created, 1128 virtual meetings scheduled, and the social media reach went up to 56 million with 20,000+ social engagements.

Year after year, the People Matters TechHR agenda has always taken a business lens to identify the biggest challenges facing us and from there, to attempt to find solutions at the intersection of people, work, and technology. It has always shone a light on the new that’s around the corner, on the next playbook waiting to be unveiled. However, this time it was different, this year is different.

“In today’s world fighting one of the biggest crises that have beset us, there is no playbook to follow, there are no experts to guide, there are no tried and tested methods. Hence, businesses have to keep on adapting, reinventing, and rewriting the playbook. This time, at People Matters TechHR, we wanted to encourage and empower our community to try new things, to learn along the way, and to find answers. And we too tried to find our answer by converting a physical conference into a digital movement. If we are able to solve enough problems, not only do we get to survive as businesses, but we also get to redefine distinctiveness and business value for our organizations and our industry. We want to encourage business and talent leaders to adapt and gear up for the great reset and hence, this year’s theme was centered on Adaptable HR: The Great Reset,” shares Ester Martinez, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, People Matters.

The power-packed virtual conference offered a complete package for talent leaders by enabling them with exclusive keynote sessions, panel discussions, speaker room discussions, a confluence of HR tech start-ups followed by the TechHR Night Fest and exclusive certification workshops. And that too, all of this on a virtual platform! The interactive sessions were focused on various facets of how the world of work has transformed as a result of the global pandemic and how the HR function is becoming more adaptable, agile and flexible in this new normal by making the best use of technology. And the Night Fest added the much-needed dose of fun in these times with the renowned Fusion Rock Band – Indian Ocean and Stand Up Comedian Rahul Subramanium. All in all, it was a week full of learning and fun.

Global dignitaries and leaders in their respective fields like Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Scholar Trader and Risk Expert), Ajay Piramal (Chairman, Piramal Group), Chris Brahm (Global Practice Leader, Technology and Analytics Group, Bain & Company), Anne Roemer (Director, Johnson Space Center Human Resources Office, NASA), Josh Bersin (Global Industry Analyst, Dean of the Josh Bersin Academy), Arundhati Bhattacharya (Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, Salesforce, India), Tanuj Kapilashrami (Group Head Human Resources, Standard Chartered Bank), Manu Kumar Jain (Global Vice President, Xiaomi and Managing Director, Xiaomi India), Manoj Kohli (Country Head, SoftBank India), Shiv Shivakumar (Group Exec. President- Corporate Strategy & Business Development, Aditya Birla Group), Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek (Chief Marketing Officer, Skillsoft), Partha Neog (CEO and Co-founder, Vantage Circle) were among the high profile speakers for the conference.

One of the most powerful and thought-provoking sessions included a CEO power panel including Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, Salesforce, India, Sanket Atal, Managing Director, Intuit, and T V Narendran, CEO & Managing Director, Tata Steel Limited. The panel reflected on leading through COVID-19 and beyond, where CEOs from different industries reflected on how we prepare for potential future crises. Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, Salesforce, India shared, “Organizations need to focus a lot more on collaboration than anything. A right collaboration strategy will take the productivity level higher.”

Another highlight of the conference was the session on ‘Building Antifragile Organizations’ by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Scholar Trader and Risk Expert where he addressed the concept of antifragility and resilience and the need for organizations to avoid optimization and focus on antifragility and robustness. “The opposite of something that breaks under stress is not something that is indifferent to stress,” said Taleb.

Similarly, the session on ‘The Big Reset for HR’ by Josh Bersin, Global Industry Analyst and Dean, Josh Bersin Academy provoked great discussions as he discussed what companies are doing to cope with the workforce and business-related challenges resulting from the global pandemic; the strategies HR leaders are developing to cope with the continued uncertainties, and supporting technologies that companies are adopting to deal with new workforce challenges. “The operating model of HR is changing. We need a more resilient and well distributed and coordinated HR model,” said Bersin.

Talking about the overall experience of the virtual conference, Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek, Chief Marketing Officer, Skillsoft shared, “It was truly a privilege and a pleasure to support People Matters TechHR this year. From the dynamic and inspiring keynote speakers to the CHRO roundtables, and our dedicated chat rooms and chat-a-thons, the people I met and the issues discussed reinforce that today’s HR executives truly are in the ‘eye of the storm.’ What a wonderful opportunity to exchange insights and success stories during this time of disruption! If there’s one thing for certain, it’s that organizations around the world can count on HR to lead us through the new normal and whatever the future brings.”

Partha Neog, CEO, Vantage Circle echoed the same thought and shared, “People Matters TechHR is one of the best virtual initiatives that we have attended. The platform was built with a great experience for the delegates, speakers and partners. The structure of the conference was built keeping engagement in mind and everyone had a great learning and fun time.”

The conference successfully triggered conversations & deliberations to hit the great reset button in these changing times and build a future-ready digital workforce and technologies needed to accelerate effectiveness in learning, recruitment, performance and talent management, and emerging applications like AI, Robotics, Blockchain in the context of work. And after the grand success of this India edition, People Matters will continue the momentum and keep building the movement forward through its Singapore edition taking place from 7th to 11th September 2020, with more insights and thought leadership from global speakers, HR and work tech analysts, and an in-depth agenda to hit the great reset button for business and work!