SARAH FIRISEN: WALKING DEAD LEADERSHIP LESSONS

Who is Sarah Firisen?

Sarah is a strategic, creative innovator with a proven record of designing and building leadership development programs that align to and help to deliver on an organization’s vision, purpose and growth objectives helping to create meaningful and transformational change.

What will you be speaking about at Disrupt HR and why did you choose this topic over any other?

I’ve been working in the leadership development field for the last six years. My topic is something I’ve been thinking about and starting to write about, so when I came aboard for this conference, I thought it a perfect opportunity to share some of those thoughts: “What we can learn about leadership from ‘The Walking Dead?’”

I’ve become a big The Walking Dead fan over the past couple of years, and it occurred to me that there are some interesting leadership development lessons to glean from the show. For me, there are elements of the show that bring to life some recent leadership development literature. Of course, maybe it’s just a way for me to rationalize my Netflix bingeing.

Do you believe the HR profession is being or will be truly disrupted, and if so, what’s driving this change?

I think the world is changing at an increasingly fast pace and in exciting and challenging ways. There isn’t a company around that isn’t being disrupted, by technology, by globalization, by climate change, take your pick of disruptors. Companies are trying to manage their way through this disruption. And meanwhile, the workplace is changing: how people want to work, where and when they want to work, who they want to work for, what they want to get from their jobs. And the trend is toward ever increasing change. A company’s strategy and business development is not set by its HR department, and so people in HR are more than likely reacting to the disruption around them rather than being the target of disruption.

That said, I do think that being a more forward-thinking person and being open to change as a leader in HR is a good thing. To realize and see these changes coming, embrace them, or at the very least not run from them has got to be a good thing for any organization.

In your opinion, where does the shift in HR need to occur?

While it isn’t the only driver of disruption, technology is the most profound disruptor across all industries. So it’s on HR personnel to become incredibly tech savvy and to understand the implications of how technology affects their industry and organization.

If you could recommend a book for everyone in attendance to read before attending, what would it be?

Watch The Walking Dead. It’s not a show about zombies; it’s a show about people. And if you’re an HR person, your commodity is people.