Why 2016 was “magic” for talent.imperative inc

December 31, 2016 My main objective in founding talent.imperative inc was to spark innovation, create impact, and deliver value in the area of talent and HR.

I am humbled to say that in 2016 we got another step closer toward that goal. Take a look at some of the highlights from our busy year:

#1 DisruptHR Chicago launched – more than 500 HR and business leaders attended!

Getting my second, non-profit business, DisruptHR Chicago, off the ground took most of my energy and time in 2016. A true labor of love!

DisruptHR is an information exchange designed to energize, inform and empower HR leaders, business professionals, and community leaders interested in disruptive ideas and in moving our collective thinking forward when it comes to talent in the workplace.

How did DisruptHR come to Chicago? It all started when I “binge watched” the cool videos on DisruptHR’s web site and decided to become a speaker myself. But to my surprise I found that Chicago did not have a chapter. I got excited by the possibility of aligning creative HR thinking to the entrepreneurial and innovation spirit emerging in Chicago (1871, Chicago Innovation Awards, Chicago Ideas Week), and I decided to start a chapter here in the Windy City.

In 2016 we hosted two events for 500 HR innovators – with 23 speakers, 16 sponsors, and countless volunteers.

These are some of the rave reviews we received:2016

“Hands down the best HR event I ever attended!”

“It was GREAT! Kudos to you and the team, what a fantastic debut!”

“It was a great event… You drew a HUGE crowd… Well done!!”

“Disrupt HR- sooo impressed with what you have done! Congrats on a great event.”


We are already gearing up for an epic 2017. Follow our #disrupthrchi hashtag on Twitter to be alerted of our early-bird tickets.

2016#2 Celebrity crush – meeting Prof. John Boudreau during the CHREATE summit at Twitter HQ.

The Global Consortium to Re-imagine HR, Employment Alternatives, Talent, and the Enterprise  (short “CHREATE”) which was conceived by the brilliant USC Marshall Professor John Boudreau is in its third year of rethinking and re-tooling how HR must evolve to meet future challenges.

I had the honor to be invited to lead a team in refining how the “five forces of change” that will define the future of work can be applied inside organizations.

You can find a summary of our findings and what I presented at the CHREATE summit here.


#3 Handbook of Human Resources Management published – a three year project came to fruition in 2016.

I am the official co-author of the “Handbook of Human Resources Management” – a 1200-page experience based guidebook in Human Resource Management published by Springer Gabler and based on the contributions of 80 HR thought leaders. I wrote the chapters “HR Marketing & Recruiting” and “Recruiting Events” which each had been downloaded a whopping 1,000 times by the end of 2016…woot woot! The (hefty!) hard copy of the book is available at 132 university libraries plus at Northwestern’s MSLOC program to whose department leadership I donated one of my copies.

#4 New clients and innovative projects = “pure magic”!2016

We are excited to welcome several new clients to the talent.imperative community in 2016. Thank you for your trust and commitment to making a difference through talent inside your organizations! One of the things that made this year extra special was working with the Orlando Magic. The organization’s HR and leadership team was a true partner in co-creating meaningful change in their Talent Acquisition practices and was open to leveraging our design-thinking inspired approach to consulting.


#5 Three new services – responding to market demands.

Based on feedback from the community we started offering three new services in 2016 that are designed to advance talent.imperative’s mission and increase its value to our clients.

  • Workshop “How to get started with Talent Analytics”. We refined our talent analytics workshop concept in 2016. We delivered a public workshop to HR professionals at HRPDA Indianapolis and a less formal version at the #HRUChicago – People Analytics Unconference. Our goal is to make the topic of analytics fun and approachable and leave participants with concrete tools and templates they can use right away inside their organizations. Click here to view a video summary of a talent analytics keynote. We can customize the format to fit a 30 – 45 minute keynote slot or conduct a 4-8 hour hands-on workshop.
  • “Not Your Momma’s Interviewer Training”. Following my ERE article Why the Hiring Manager Experience is More Important than the Candidate Experience” we received several inquiries asking to help organizations optimize their Recruiting relationships. One of the services we provide now is to help you spice up your hiring manager interviewer training. We take your compliance-driven program to one that focuses on business impact while “edutaining” the adult learner. We work with Talent Acquisition teams to create a customized learning experience that draws on years of working at the intersection of Talent Acquisition, Learning, and Consulting. We create a bespoke blended learning experience that includes leading-edge virtual, social, coaching, and live training components.2016
  • talent.coffee™ – talent.coffee™ is a breakfast workshop held every other month that aims to engage HR and business leaders in the discussion around our ten talent trends. talent.coffee™ provides the opportunity to collaborate with peers on solving some of the most pressing talent challenges of our time. Participants walk away with real ideas and solutions. Each of the talent.coffee™ meetings are dedicated to one of our ten talent trends. The workshop is facilitated in collaboration with an innovative Chicago enterprise that serves as a solution or case study to the key challenge implied in each trend. Our first talent.coffee™ on November 09, 2016 was dedicated to the “Solving the Skills Mismatch Riddle” trend. We were excited to partner with our friends at i.c.stars on this inaugural event. Read on to learn about the solutions the group came up with.

How can we help you? Contact us to discuss your talent challenges or any of our new services.

#6 New partnerships established – positioning for growth.

We love to partner with other innovative entrepreneurs to amplify our value to clients. In addition to continuing our existing partnerships, we have started to forge collaboration with the wonderful people at ProKo Consulting, Wave3 Consultants, Skill Scout, CTO2, and Restart Consulting to supplement our team and services on select projects.

#7 Chicago Innovation Awards Nominee – recognition for our innovative approach to talent in the Chicago market.2016

We are honored to have been recognized as a 2016 Chicago Innovation Awards nominee. It means a lot to be part of the vibrant innovation community in Chicago. We cherish this nomination and see it as a call to continue on our mission!



As I reflect on the year that passed I feel nothing but the magic of gratitude. In Emerson’s words I want to thank everyone who was part of our amazing journey this past year: 2016

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”  (Ralph Waldo Emerson)


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Nicole Dessain is a talent management and HR “nerd”. She loves to blow up long-held believes that stop us from preparing our organizations for the future of work. Nicole feels lucky to have had an amazing corporate HR and consulting career that she recently has turned into her own business, talent.imperative inc. What can be better than helping clients build talent.driven organizations? Her second, non-profit business, DisruptHR Chicago, was launched in 2016 and has inspired more than 500 HR professionals in the Chicago area. And this is just the beginning…


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