It’s funny, ever since university my friends and I used to always talk about going to London and working and how amazing it must be, now that I’m here, I realise it’s just another giant city with all the same types of challenges cities have everywhere.

I have been here 7 days so far and it has been fantastic, especially the crazy heat wave that happened to start a day before I landed. Monday I visited the CIPD offices in Wimbledon that took me 3 trains to get there! Before 8.30am (insane, crazy and I HATE commuting). Visiting the CIPD offices was a bit surreal, I had heard all about CIPD in NZ and here I was, visiting the headquarters in Wimbledon, London. Sounds quite geeky but was great being at the headquarters of the UK’s HR Professional Body. Perry showed me around and started introducing me to people as “This is Tash from NZ” and they all seemed to go “Oh wow, hello! You’re in London”, it was very cool that all of these people knew who I was through Perry, who I met via Twitter. The CIPD offices were just amazing, glass everywhere, an atrium down the middle, a lot of natural light and great open plan office space, even a staff cafeteria that has free lunch (incl dessert) everyday! Very impressed and even a tad jealous! The people I met were fantastic and I got to chatting with the lovely Natalia who is the mastermind behind CIPD’s twitter account. She even brought me a CIPD present which was extremely nice of her! I am back at CIPD on Friday and I hope I get to meet the CEO, Peter Cheese, when I’m there.

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Tuesday I attended a great Strategic HR Network event, the Organisational Development Conference in Tower Hill (and got to see Tower Bridge and Tower of London, awesome). The idea of the conference was based around Change through Engagement. The speakers were fantastic and I was surrounded by an array of HR Managers, VPs, Business Partners, Consultants and Directors who shared great insight into the environments they were working in and the challenges they were facing. If anything, the one thing I took away from that conference was that no matter where in the world you are doing business, you are faced with the same challenges. It was comforting to know that even though we are in such a small country down in the corner of the earth, one of the biggest cities in the world is facing the same challenges and having the same conversations to try and find the right way forward.

I met four Twitter buddies that day as well, which was fantastic. In one of my tweets I mentioned I was wearing a turquoise top and 3 people came up to me saying “TashTastic in the Turquoise top” and sparked a conversation with me, it was just brilliant, the power of Social Media.

Thursday I visited the flash offices of IBM, South Bank for a morning workshop on “The Social Organisation: How Digital Media adds value to HR”. Four large organisations talked through their experiences with social media and how they have embedded it into their organisations, it was good to finally hear real organisations talk about the successes and challenges. What I hope to see next however is how Social Media might enhance or detract from the technical HR, the employment relations side, policies, processes etc. At the moment the talk is all about how Social Media is/can enhance engagement in organisations, but when will talk start happening on how Social Media will start to impact the technical side of HR? I wait in anticipation!

Friday and Saturday was filled with sight-seeing and attempted shopping around London. The weather made the experience even better, but my poor body didn’t enjoy walking around in the heat all that much. Regardless, Parliament Building and Big Ben, Westminster, St James Park and Buckingham Palace were all worth the blazing heat. I would personally suggest heading to those places on a weekday, poor Nicola (@HRSwitchon) went on Saturday morning and struggled to get up to the Buckingham Palace gates through all of the tourists.

This whole experience is thanks to Perry Timms, the great HR/OD Practitioner that made this trip happen. This is a once in a lifetime experience for me to come to London and learn about Social Media in a different environment. I have a whole new perspective on life and what I want from my career and it was thanks to this opportunity. London is a huge and exciting city and has posed some challenges for me with the commuting and heat, but everyone should make the effort to come here and experience it for themselves.

HR Workaholic (on tour)!