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HRD Summit is the premier gathering for People Directors on the planet, with multiple conferences annually in Europe and the US. The event attracts HR professionals, including Chief HR Officers from leading global companies, to explore the very latest in Leadership & Culture, Talent, Engagement and Learning. In 2017, Contentive, the visionaries behind HRD Summit, were looking to add value to the conference — to freshen up the format, and set it apart from the many other HR conferences out there. But just how to do it remained a question mark.

It was by chance then, or perhaps serendipity, that Penelope Jenkin, Senior Conference Producer at the time for HRD Summit, happened to meet SongDivision’s GM for the UK & Europe, Sam McNeill. The two began to explore new ways of communicating the complex HR themes discussed at the Summit. How could this content be delivered more experientially and engagingly? What if it was conveyed using music and entertainment as opposed to the more traditional lecture format? How would it be received? Would people get it?

HRD Summit 2018 | Sam McNeill | Innovation KeynoteGiven this intriguing new direction and SongDivision’s 15-year track record, Penelope decided to test out this new concept at the 2017 HRD Summit Europe in Birmingham. Sam was invited to deliver an interactive workshop on ‘Creating a Culture of Innovation‘ using music. The workshop was delivered as part of one of the Summit’s breakout streams, however, its modest placement in the conference did not stop it from making a big impression. Attendees thoroughly enjoyed the session and by the end were on their feet singing a song of their own creation with peers, most of whom they hadn’t known 30 minutes before.

Of those in attendance was HRD Summit Chair, Mark Ellis. Having experienced the energy and enthusiasm of the session first-hand, Mark insisted that Sam and SongDivision be on the main stage at the next year’s conference.

In 2018, Sam was invited back, this time as HRD Summit Europe’s Chief Story Teller, to deliver one of SongDivision’s interactive Keynote presentations. To Penelope and Mark’s delight, the general session keynote was equally if not more successful than the 2017 session. As in the previous year, attendees who had not expected to do more than simply listen, found themselves engaged in the action, writing lyrics and singing along as Sam helped them orchestrate their very own song based on key conference themes. SongDivision musicians also delivered our renowned InstaHits — custom songs written in less than 3 minutes — to entertain guests during breaks and receptions.

Throughout the conference, there was a noticeable buzz in the air. Music was working — it was engaging HRD Summit audiences in new and exciting ways, and it was setting HRD Summit apart from others. Naturally, Penelope looked to SongDivision to further introduce music into the Summit.

HRD Summit US_Boston_Conference Anthem_SongDivisionThis past year, SongDivision worked with Contentive to deliver various music-fueled services throughout HRD Summit Europe including our Keynote, Conference Energisers, InstaHits, and our new IntroHits — custom walk-up songs for featured presenters and award winners. We also aided in the successful launch of HRD Summit US in Boston by delivering our unique brand of experiential music programming to an entirely new audience of HR professionals.

In addition to the visibility SongDivision has received, our central presence at HRD Summit has also resulted in leading global companies such as Coca-Cola, HSBC, BP and Airbus engaging us for their own events around the world. What began 3 years ago as a chance meeting has since blossomed into an annual partnership communicating complex HR themes using music and boosting the experiential value for HRD Summit globally.


“SongDivision demonstrate what true partnership is all about! Having met the team over three years ago, we have continued to work together to create new solutions that inspire, engage and motivate. What started as a breakout session on innovation, quickly turned into a crowd favourite main stage event – capturing hearts and minds across the UK, Europe and US. Sam and the team work with you to build bespoke sensory experiences (no matter what the audience size). Their work creates a dynamic and memorable element to any event – helping to increase engagement and satisfaction scores. Above all else, it is nice to collaborate with a partner who has become a true member of our community. Working with participants beyond the event to solve engagement and cultural solutions within their organisation.” Penelope Jenkin, Former Senior Conference Producer, HRD Summit


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