I have a confession to make: I LOVE people. I mean, I love virtually EVERYONE … almost without exception. It’s actually become a running joke among my family and friends whenever I talk about meeting someone new. I will run through a litany of positive qualities that I’ve observed in my first encounter with the person and will then get a statement like, “let me guess Dan, you REALLY liked them, right?” To which I will enthusiastically reply in the affirmative as my friends share a sarcastic laugh at my expense. What can I say? When it comes to other people I’m consistently glass-half-full.
With that as a backdrop you can probably imagine how excited I am to attend the NACE Annual Conference this year. Like all the other NACE events I’ve attended over the last 15-plus years, it’s an opportunity to meet some extraordinary people, virtually all of whom share a passion for our profession. For a people-person, this is like the holy grail of networking opportunities, and I fully intend to “leave it all on the field” while I’m there. And since there are few things that I like better than helping other NACE members, I thought I’d give you a few tips on some people to look out for once you arrive in Chicago. Please note that this list could go on and on – there will be hundreds of people to meet and interact with – but I’ll keep the list to a mentally manageable length of seven to get you started. And so without further ado (and in no particular order), here are a few “must-meet” personalities for your reading pleasure:
Manny Contomanolis: Director of Career Services and Cooperative Education at RIT and a past president of NACE. You want NACE history? Institutional knowledge? Best practices? Manny’s been around the block a few times and knows more about Career Services than just about anyone I know. Oh, and in case that makes him sound “seasoned”, offer to buy him a cocktail (Gin and Tonic will do nicely) and ask him about men’s fashion. Or fitness. Or Greek history. Suffice it to say that Manny makes the “Most Interesting Man in the World” sound like an insurance salesman. You’re welcome.
Kathleen Powell: NACE President-Elect and Executive Director of Career Development at William & Mary. Talk about a visionary! Kathleen’s done it all … and has just gone through the process of establishing NACE’s strategic committees for the upcoming fiscal year. She’s an ideal person to tell you all about getting involved with our great organization, and equally equipped to talk about life on the water (her other love). On top of all that, she’s got a sense of humor that’s engaging and a wit that’s as dry as Manny’s gin (see bullet one). You won’t want to miss the opportunity to get to know this special lady before her whirlwind NACE presidency term starts on July 1!
Dave Ong: Senior Director of Corporate Recruiting at Maximus and NACE VP-Employer. If networking were a sport, Dave would have a spot on the All World team; I’ve never met anyone who has created and maintained so many real connections with people all over the world. Dave has a true passion for helping people, as is evidenced by his track record mentoring dozens of recruiting professionals through NACE over the years. My advice: talk to Dave about building relationships—he’s the best in the business. Then talk to him about his definition of “fast food” in Jerusalem—I promise you it’s a great story.
Christian Garcia: Associate Dean and Executive Director at University of Miami and NACE Director—College. If you thought you needed to be long in the tooth to be a force in this profession, then you haven’t met Christian Garcia. An innovator who thinks outside the box, Christian is a prime example of how to get great things done, all while having some fun along the way. Ask him about his path to the NACE board and the innovative things he’s done at Miami (Hire a Cane!). And if you don’t believe me about the fun, be sure ask him to show you his socks; they will most definitely be on fleek (and I actually know what that means now!).
Ed Koc: NACE Director of Research, Public Policy and Legislative Affairs. Big fan of big data? Like to understand what’s happening in Washington, D.C. besides the partisan bickering? Not sure where to start when thinking about a new school strategy? If any of these things are on your mind, then Ed should be on your dance card; there are few people who know more about research and public policy in the university/recruitment space than he does. Just bring him a decaf coffee (trust me) and let the conversation fly!
Shawn VanDerziel: Chief Human Resources Officer at The Field Museum and a past NACE president. In addition to a nice guy who is probably one of the best active listeners I’ve ever met, Shawn will also be our host for the 60th Anniversary Gala at the Chicago Field Museum on June 9th. If you see him, ask him about how to maximize your time at the conference, as well as your time in Chicago….and then get to the Gala where you can see Shawn in his natural habitat!
Dawn Carter: Director, Early Careers at Intuit and current NACE President. I saved this sassy and classy lady for last … and for good reason. Dawn is always where the buck stops, whether it’s on tough issues in the profession, big decisions on the Board, or leading the way for younger professionals. Dawn will be running around like a crazed person at the conference, but be sure to stop her and ask her about her love for NACE and how she thinks the profession is evolving. Then tell her a joke … if it’s a good one, you’ll be treated to the timeless Dawn chuckle, guaranteed to bring a smile to your face!
Now that I’ve given you a head start, why stop there??? Start mapping out your strategy now, and by the time you arrive at that conference you’ll be primed and ready to unlock the limitless possibilities of the great NACE network. See you in Chicago!
Editor’s Note: There’s one more person you should introduce yourself to while in Chicago—and that’s Dan Black, Americas Director of Recruiting at EY and a former NACE president. His picture is next to “extrovert” in the dictionary. He’s well known for his wit and easy laugh, and his absolute devotion to NACE. He’s a must-add to your must-meet list.