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New HR Tech Event Unleashed

European-based HR industry event organizer HRN is running its second U.S. conference in May and going head to head with the existing HR Technology Conference.

European-based HR industry event organizer HRN, which is behind a fledgling U.S. HR technology conference, is counting on longtime insider China Gorman to boost its presence stateside.

The outfit tapped Gorman to manage its North American operations, including helping it rebrand and run its second U.S. conference. The event, once known as HR Tech World and rebranded as Unleash back in October, is scheduled to take place in May in Las Vegas.

In building its American operations, HRN is going head to head with the existing HR Technology Conference. The LRP Publications-run event all but created the HR technology exposition phenomena when it kicked off its first gathering 20 years ago.

HRN’s focus on the future of work and unique programming separates it from existing conferences, Gorman said. “This isn’t our parents’ HR tech conference, that’s for sure,” she said.

An HR Technology Conference spokeswoman declined to comment.

The rival conferences hope to appeal to HR practitioners at a time when companies are using more cloud-based services for payroll, benefits, performance, learning and other aspects of people management. At the same time, venture funds are pouring an unprecedented amount of capital into HR technology startups.

The past few years also have seen a proliferation of HR tech blogs, review sites — including some with crowdsourced reviews — and other content devoted to assessing HR technology.

Gorman will work for Unleash part time from her home base in Las Vegas. “I see myself as a rocket booster for the Unleash team,” said Gorman, chief executive of Great Place to Work Institute from 2013-15 and SHRM’s COO from 2007 to 2010.

Michelle V. Rafter is a contributing editor in Portland, Oregon. To comment, email editors@workforce.com.