Homegrown – thoughts on #NZAGE13

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So what is NZAGE?
The NZAGE is the industry body educating and supporting organisations that recruit and develop New Zealand graduates. It’s not for profit which means its activities are entirely funded by annual subscriptions from members and event fees. And the Summit is organised and run by volunteers.

Why is this important?
There is nothing else like it in New Zealand and its only two years old. NZAGE13 was the second annual summit and had the theme of Homegrown.

Who was there then?
The mainly great and good of the graduate recruitment and development world representing over 53 organisations. Disappointingly, lots of organisations who recruit graduates were not represented. Why?

Even more disappointing, of the 8 main New Zealand universities, only two careers service teams were represented I believe.

Any particular reasons?
Hard to say in respect of employers. NZAGE is still very young and will probably take a few more years to become fully established. Talking to Ben Reeves who runs the Australian equivalent AAGE, he made the point that it took them several years to reach critical mass and NZAGE is already ahead of where they were at this early stage of development.

Unlike Australia and the UK, there are few if any people in New Zealand whose sole job is to manage graduate recruitment or development because of our size. It is just one component of the many things we all do as HR and recruitment professionals in our every day jobs.

It’s arguable the Auckland recruitment community have been spoiled this last year with TruNZ, two Recruitment Hubs and a Sourcing Summit. Perhaps NZAGE is too niche for them?

As for the university careers services, well they are just crap really (with one or two notable exceptions) and I’m not surprised they are either indifferent or unaware of the benefits of attending and being a part of NZAGE.

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So what did they miss?
My highlights were:
• Interesting key note presentation from Vaughan Rowsell, founder and CEO of Vend. He set the tone by asking first up “so who the fuck am I?” and then proceeded to answer by painting a vivid picture of the homegrown Kiwi company and culture he has created and what makes them different. In keeping with his opening question, my favourite take away was their company motto JFDI – just fucking do it!
• Very articulate student panel who put must of us experienced hacks to shame with their mature outlook and view of the world of business and their role in it.
• One of the main highlights for me was three presentations from the companies nominated for Best Graduate Development Programme. In particular, the Warehouse presentation on their graduate store manager development programme was a stand out and they were well deserved award winners that night. It’s great to see some NZ companies doing this stuff well.
• Very interesting discussion on the subject of online tertiary education and qualifications led by Rob and Tim from Grad Connection NZ.
• The second keynote from Dr Jeff Simpson talking about his research on the traits of high performing graduates and how to spot narcissistic traits. I’ve written about Jeff’s work before and he really captivated the room with his insights. He provided the quote of the day for me. “Humility makes you agile to learn.” Think about that next time you are faced with a cocky grad who thinks the world owes him a career.

Anything different from last year?
The very first NZAGE Awards and Dinner. It was fantastic to see some recognition for people doing the right stuff in this space so congratulations to all the winners:
Best Print Marketing Material – Chapman Tripp
Best Online Graduate Campaign – Deloitte
Best Careers Service – The University of Auckland
Best Innovation in the Graduate Market – EY
Best Graduate Development Programme – The Warehouse

It was also good to hear from Anthony Ford, General Manager of First Foundation. A truly fantastic and inspiring programme helping kids from low decile schools into tertiary education. A timely reminder of just how tough it can be for some kids to make it to and through university and that all of us can make a difference.

Any negatives?
It’s always hard to get these things 100% brilliant content-wise and some sessions are always better than others. In terms of attendees, personally I would like to see more public sector attendees, a broader national spread, more of our technology and start up companies/smaller businesses, the health sector etc. represented, as well as the recognised employment brands. And of course all of the universities!

Hopefully this will happen over time as NZAGE becomes more established in the annual calendar. But for now, let’s celebrate another little homegrown success that is helping transform the NZ HR/recruitment landscape.

3 thoughts on “Homegrown – thoughts on #NZAGE13

  1. Thanks for sharing this Richard, it sounds like something that will surely grow. Sadly not everyone is as early an adopter of new things as you, but no doubt momentum will build.

    The recruitment community also had an Employer Branding Summit, three or 4 HRINZ recruitment SIGs and 4 of my own Rice PowWows this year. I still think this is a niche area that has enough potential to stand on its own two feet amongst all that noise though.

    I will make sure to attend next year 🙂

    • Thanks Jonathan. On the plus side, it’s great that the Auckland recruitment community are so well served for events. We just need to get more going in Wellington and Christchurch now. I have heard rumours of Rice PowWows on tour?

      • Ha! Yes it needs to happen…I think doing a Christmas one is going to prove a challenge though… Will definitely set up an “end of Financial Year” one for March time next year.

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