November conference to highlight organization change, talent development

William Rothwell, professor of workforce education and development, is one of the organizers of "Leading Organization Change through Innovation," a virtual conference scheduled for Nov. 19. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A free talent development conference from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 19 will feature several academics and practitioners from Penn State Workforce Education and Development as well as speakers from around the world.

The virtual event from the World Campus Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Organization Development and Change and the Workforce Education and Development programs in the College of Education Department of Learning Performance Systems is titled “Leading Organization Change through Innovation.”

Organizers William Rothwell, professor of workforce education and development, and Farhan Sadique, doctoral student, said they hope to attract nearly 500 participants and create an engaging environment to learn as a community. Rothwell is the conference chair and Sadique is the student chair.

"Many online conferences today are global in scope," Rothwell said. "Today, technology gives us the ability to build communities across geographical locations."

Rothwell said participants can expect to walk away with a better grasp of how to deal with and manage workplace change.

"Everybody's affected by the workplace changes we will talk about. Anyone could participate in the conversation; this is not only academic researchers but rather dialogues among practitioners and researchers," he said.

Conference tracks and topics are talent development; organization development and change; global and societal change; and technology.

"Talent development is the field we used to call employee training and development, and talent development speaks to the qualitative differences of human abilities, so we're talking about the latest ways to qualify for jobs, keep their existing skills current and advance in their careers," Rothwell said.

Organization development, he said, is centered on topics that are related to organizational change. "And I can't think of a topic more relevant to people today than dealing with change. Just think about COVID-19 and its impact, and so many other things, so we're talking about the latest thinking in organizational change," Rothwell explained.

Global and societal change is related to the organization development issue. "Change is driven, either outside our organizations by external events or by internal leaders and internal groups inside organizations forcing the organization to adapt to external change or adapt to change that's driven by the values of the people in the organization," Rothwell said.

Technology-related issues are a major driver of change, according to Rothwell. "That's a major mechanism affecting talent development efforts. That's a major way we respond to organizational and societal change," he said. "Technology also is a cause of a lot of change. And we use technology as a way to cope with COVID 19; using technology, 56% of all U.S. jobs can be performed from home. And that's an important thing to remember for the future." 

"We hear a lot of complaints about delivering education through Zoom and through other online platforms, but the reality is that in the future, more work will be done from home than in central offices. And we need to help prepare people for that social change, so that's one of the issues we are looking at in our conference," he added.

The nearly 20 presentations scheduled include examining ways for organizations to create and strengthen their existing pipeline from diverse communities; refining the construct of career agility; theory building through conceptual methods; ensuring alignment of leader management processes to improve organizational performance; establishing an effective work-life balance for mothers; and more related, thought-provoking topics, according to Sadique.

"We are offering not only the practices around the U.S. but from the Philippines and China. And we have speakers from Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Oman, Morocco … representing many different countries around the globe," said Sadique. "The presentations are very specifically designed so that the audience has something to learn from each presentation."

Rothwell is the keynote speaker for talent development. Hyung Joon Yoon, associate professor of education (workforce education and development), will assume the same role for technology in organization development. 

Register for the conference by clicking here.

Last Updated October 18, 2021