Meet the Speakers: Mary Ellen Slayter and Charlie Judy

Mary Ellen and Charlie are doing a special “problem solving” session in real time during HRev. If you’d like to be one of the “case studies” for the group to brainstorm solutions to your problems (anonymously or not), email Mary Ellen at with a quick description of your issue, as well as why they should pick you. You could walk away with a handful of solutions to a problem you’ve been dealing with for a while. Neat, huh?

  • Who are you?

Mary Ellen Slayter: Is this a philosophical question?

Charlie Judy: I’m with her.

  • What do you do (day job, any blogging/social media stuff, volunteering, etc.)?

Mary Ellen: I’m a journalist who specializes in management and leadership issues. My current role is senior business and finance editor at SmartBrief.

Charlie: I’m the global director of HR Strategy and Operations for Navigant. I help our HR practice align with our business; I help HR identify and get all over opportunities to enhance our relevance to the organization, our leaders, and our employees; and I help HR enhance the delivery and utilization of the great programs and resources we make available to our people every day. I’m also a Talent Management Blogger under the alias of HR Fishbowl where I write about simply-engineering the practice of Human Resources.

  • What is your session title and topic?

Mary Ellen:: We are hosting an “HR Slam.” It’s like those poetry slams you drank through in college — but with fewer Doc Martens. We’re asking brave conference participants to describe an actual problem their HR team is facing, which we’ll share with the group (anonymously, if you insist.) Then we’ll divide up into teams to come up with solution in one hour. Teams will present their proposed solutions, and Charlie and I will pick the best idea. SmartBrief has a prize for the winning team.

Charlie: And by “problem,” Mary means it could be something technical, environmental, internal, external…it could be programmatic, or it could be philosophical. Maybe it’s about HR, maybe it’s not. But the idea is that the problem is dynamic enough – sticky enough – that only the collective thinking of a lot of really thoughtful, experienced, and innovative HR pros could sufficiently address it. It’s a working session meant to produce tangible takeaways. And by the way, all conference participants will have the chance to submit a problem/challenge for consideration prior to the conference…even if you don’t plan on participating in the track.

  • Why did you submit to speak at HRev?

Mary Ellen: I like to provoke people.

Charlie: I was asked by Mary Ellen to help with the session ostensibly because she thought it was important to have someone who has the HR technical background to help facilitate. I personally think she asked me because she knew my billing would have a better draw. And I don’t really want “to speak.” I want to plant a couple of seeds, stir the pot a bit, but really focus more on getting juicy input from all of the attendees. That’s what an “unconference” is all about, after all… Right?

  • What are 5 words that describe you?

Mary Ellen: I tried to crowdsource this answer with my friends, but their answers mainly seemed to involve booze and fried chicken. Pass?

Charlie: You’ll love or hate me.

  • What is one fun/strange/interesting thing about you?

Mary Ellen:: My undergraduate degree is in agronomy.

Charlie: I have an often uncontrollable desire to go off the grid…check out…disappear. Like grow a beard, change the color of my hair, move to an obscure island in Polynesia kind of disappear.

  • Why do you think you are so passionate about your session topic?

Mary Ellen: The results have the power to improve someone’s business.

Charlie: We all love to “think big.” It’s fun to theorize and philosophize and strategize and dogmatize. But sometimes how we execute as HR professionals can bring just as much – if not more – value to an organization. And while not the primary driver to what we do every day, pragmatism never-the-less plays a role in how we do it. This track will provide room for both: thinking big, but then executing with consideration for the immediate practical consequences.

  • If people only remember one big takeaway from your session, what would it be?

Mary Ellen: HR can solve business problems.

Charlie: The hardest yet most important part of innovation and evolution is execution.

Sounds like an awesome idea to me. I’ve been pushing for a “hands-on” type session at HRev for a while, and I’m glad Mary Ellen and Charlie have stepped up to the plate on this one. They are definitely capable and would be my first pick for a hard-hitting, fast-paced session like this! Don’t forget to submit your ideas to the team (details up in the intro paragraph) to see if your questions could be answered during the HR Slam session!

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