The Cyprus Human Resources Management Association organized another successful Annual Conference, held on the 9th of May 2012, at the Hilton Cyprus. This year’s conference was characterized by a more practical and innovative approach.

The event began with a welcoming note by the Co-Chairpersons of the CyHRMA Annual Conference, Mrs. Valentini Georgiou, who spoke about the role of HR Business Partners and Mr. George Pantelides, Board Treasurer of CyHRMA. This was followed by an opening address by Mrs. Chris Mathas, the President of the Board of Directors of CyHRMA who briefly but using an allegory made the point that it is up to us the HR professionals how we deal with the economic crisis that we are living in.

A strong keynote address, the highlight of the Conference was delivered by Mr Ivan Jovanovic, the distinguished Coach of APOEL F.C. Mr Jovanovic had a humble approach and yet so many powerful messages on how to build a winning team. The key points were that a team needs to have confidence and common goals. But the leader’s role is of outmost importance. He/she needs to manage different cultures, be self-aware, confident and flexible, as well as share the success with his/her team. Mr Jovanovic repeatedly told the audience that he had never thought how much the role of Coach is similar to that of a HR professional but when he started preparing for the conference he realised how much these roles are similar and how difficult they are! At the end of his speech, Mr Jovanovic accepted many questions from the eager audience who wanted to find out so much about what makes a successful leader and a successful team. One of the questions was “what inspires you?” His response was that his own team inspires him. He finds himself feeling more eager when his own team is eager and enthusiastic. This kind of mutual inspiration helps the team be strong, at the face of constant public criticism generated by the weekly broadcasted results of the team.

Immediately after Mr. Jovanovic’s keynote speech what followed was the “HRM Challenge Round.” An innovative, practical method of focusing on significant everyday challenges faced by HR professionals. Through the Challenge Round the conference participants had the opportunity to discuss solutions through facilitation on key HR issues that organizations in Cyprus are facing. All conference attendees were divided into smaller groups which were facilitated by experienced HR professionals with the aim of provoking thought on issues such as “how do we reward our talents in a time of crisis?”, ”how do we evolve our supervisory staff with the aim to work amongst others as managers of human resources (every manager is an HR manager)”, “how can the field of HRM affect corporate decisions in times of economical instability”, “Performance appraisal systems – effective process or just another process” and “what are the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviours required for enterprises-based diversified business affairs”? This interactive process allowed participants to share their knowledge, experience and their practices on these issues and to learn from each other.

The Conference was concluded with a panel discussion. The panellists were Mr. Michalis Sarris (Chairman of the BOD of Cyprus Popular Bank), Mr. Christos Papaellinas (Executive Director of C.A. Papaellinas Group), Mr. Demetris Zorbas (General Manager at A. Zorbas and Sons Public Ltd.), and Mr. Christis Christoforou (CEO of Deloitte Cyprus). The panel was facilitated by Mr. Andros Michaelides (a well-known professional in the media and Manager at A.M. Epikinonia Ltd.). The panel discussion’s topic was “In the Mind of CEOs: Lessons learned… the way forward”. During this discussion, each CEO shared their lessons on issues such as corporate governance, decision making, and HR practices before and during the economic crisis. It was very interesting to hear the views and different perspectives of seasoned leaders from different industries.

At the end of the discussion, the panel accepted a number of questions, one of them being “how can an HR professional best support a CEO during an economic crisis?” to which Mr. Papaellinas replied “by knowing and understanding well all the operations of the company, having direct contact with employees, and less bureaucracy.” Mr. Sarris replied “the HR professional needs to take a leading role during the process of change”, Mr. Christoforou said “he/ she needs to be aligned with the company expectations”, and Mr. Zorbas said “he/she needs to stand next to the CEO offering his/ her expert opinion based on numbers, and by having a more strategic rather than operational approach”. Overall the conference generated positive reviews from the participants, sponsors and members, mainly because of its quality content. It was found to be straight to the point and very practical. It proved again to be a milestone for the continuous development of human resource and management professionals, with a strong focus on key HR issues specific to the Cyprus environment.