HR West Review: Is It Worth Attending?

Among the many conferences that take place in the United States each year, HR West is one of the largest on the West Coast. Usually taking place in the San Francisco Bay Area, the conference has always been focused on what’s next for the world of HR.

Each year, the future of human resources is discussed at the conference by HR professionals from across the world. The idea behind the conference is not to have an extremely large conference, but to have a conference that’s big enough to get major parties interested while letting people network and connect with one another.

Despite that, each year, the conference sees a heavy presence of big names in the industry and a solid response.

HR West 2024

The HR West conference of 2024 was held from March 9 to March 11 at the Oakland Convention Center in Oakland, California.

With more than 1,000 participants and over 70 speaker sessions, the conference also earns you credits for certain certifications.

About HR West Conference

The HR West conference is hosted by the Next Concept HR Association (NCHRA) and has been an annual event for over 36 years. The event is held in the general San Francisco area so that people from leading Silicon Valley companies can attend it.

Being an HR practitioner requires you to remain up-to-date with things like employment law, human capital requirements, HCM software, employment screening resources, and other HR concepts.

The event is for any HR professional who’s looking to expand their skillset and face the challenging issues in HR. These HR professionals include different attendees like HR managers, HR executives, HR business partners, Vice Presidents of companies, and several others with a ranging level of expertise.

Since California is one of the most demanding and challenging areas to practice HR, it’s a great city to host the conference in. The kind of talent you find in California is hard to find elsewhere. As a result, it provides attendees the opportunity to learn from the best presenters in the country, with speakers from major companies like Amazon, Google, LinkedIn, and more.

HR West 2024 Speakers

The HR West conference always has an interesting line of speakers with several leaders from different industries.

Here are the major keynote speakers and Emcees of the 2024 HR West conference.

  • Keynote Speaker Cindy Solomon – Founder, CEO, and President of the Courageous Leadership Institute
  • Special Activity Emcee Tanisha Smite – Senior Human Resources Professional and Founder of Helping Hands Change Hearts (HHCH)
  • Keynote Speaker Jeff Bellisario – Executive Director of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute
  • Emcee Cecil Plummer – Former Director of CSS Strategic Solutions at Robert Half
  • Keynote Speaker Torin Perez – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion consultant and author of ‘Who Am I to Lead? The World is Waiting for You.’

Furthermore, there were dozens of speakers from different companies and industries. Here are some of the more well-known ones.

  • Melissa Anzman – CEO and Managing Director at bettHR
  • Alex Kinnebrew – CMO and Head of Growth Strategy at Waggl, Inc.
  • Brad Wilson – Director of Business Development and Partnerships at the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI)
  • Manisha Gupta – Global Head of Product Management and HCM Analytics at the Oracle Corporation
  • Chas Fields – HCM Strategy Consultant at Kronos Inc.

These are just some of the major speakers from the conference, as there were several other speakers from several industries.

What You Can Expect from HR West Conferences

The HR West conference always focuses on the biggest challenges and issues in HR, including several schools of thought, and tackles diverse approaches—all while empowering a forward-thinking dialogue.

The presenters are there to help you gain valuable industry insights, information on new tools & resources, and give you a peek into the latest workplace research & results.

As an attendee, you can also help introduce new strategies for globalization, leadership culture, workplace technologies, employee engagement, employee turnover, and more.

The entire conference is based on the following pillars.

The Human Resources ‘Un’ Conference

The idea behind HR West is to not have a big expo hall with a large stage, but rather a collaborative event that focuses on individuals and the participants. The event is large enough to attract HR leaders from all over, while being small enough so everyone can make proper and meaningful connections.

The conference also provides food, parking, and hotel services under the same roof.

Comprehensive Learning Opportunities

The HR West conference has over 70 concurrent sessions on different topics, with a lot dedicated to recertification credit. There are also tracks for things like law & legislation, culture, employee relations, engagement & retention, talent development, strategy & leadership, talent acquisition & management, communication & relate, and compensation & benefits.

By attending the conference, you can earn up to 14 HRCI and SHRM PDCs credits. The credits are divided into Business Credits, California Credits, and Global Credits.

Furthermore, you also have the chance to learn from SPHRs and SHRM-SCP-certified professionals and can learn how to be certified yourself (even from sites like hr.com).

Networking Opportunities

Since the event focuses on helping attendees solve their HR issues and challenges, it’s a great opportunity to network with others who are facing the same problems.

It also provides attendees the opportunity to find solutions with peers, all while learning what works for others.

The several casual events at the conference helps to further solidify the networking into meaningful connections.

Several Service Partners and Exhibitors

The conference enables you to meet more than 80 exhibitors providing HR solutions. The conference is set up so that none of the attendees feel overwhelmed and can find the right service partner.

The exhibitors are always present throughout the venue rather than located in an entirely different hall or area.

HR West 2024 Sponsors and Exhibitors

The most recent HR West conference saw a number of high-level sponsors. The Platinum sponsors included Vita, Lattice, and Robert Half. Meanwhile, each aspect of the conference was handled by a different sponsor. For example, the lunch was sponsored by OneDigital and Ogletree Deakins, the conference grand prize was sponsored by Lockton, while the hotels were sponsored by HRCP.

Furthermore, the list of exhibitors was massive and included major names like Alliant, BambooHR, Ceridian, Managed by Q, PayCom, Paylocity, Ultimate Software, and Zenefits, among others.

How Can I Register for Future HR West Conferences?

If you want to apply for the next HR West conference, you can do so at hrwest.org. The site will be updated with the 2021 conference details by August 2021.

To receive updates on the conference, you can sign up on the site with your name, name, email, and job title.

This year, the ticket price ranged between $797 and $1,642, depending on when you bought the ticket. The earlier you buy the ticket, the cheaper you can get it for. Furthermore, there are also group discounts—if you buy 5 or more tickets together, you can get a discount on each ticket.

Therefore, if you plan on attending the next West conference, it would be wise to buy the ticket as soon as it’s available and in groups of 5 or more.

Should I Attend Next Year’s West Conference?

Whether you should attend the next West conference or not depends on a of factors. First off, it’s wise to take a look at other conferences (such as Culture Summit or SHRM Conference) that take place throughout the year.

Aside from that, you should keep in mind that the HR West conference provides credits for certifications, so it might be a good idea to attend in that regard. Also, if you’re based on the West Coast, HR West might as well be your best choice as an HR conference.

In the end, it’s about your goals, where you live, whether you can afford it, and what you can get from the conference in deciding whether you want to attend the conference.



If you are new to Human Resources and are looking to break into a HR role, we recommend taking our HR Certification Courses, where you will learn how to build your skillset in human resources, build your human resources network, craft a great HR resume, and create a successful job search strategy.


Josh Fechter
Josh Fechter is the founder of HR.University. He's a certified HR professional and has managed global teams across 5 different continents including their benefits and payroll. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.