ACE 2017 Key Takeaways

ACE 2017: Key Highlights and Takeaways

There really is no place quite like it…

New Orleans was treated to an eclectic mix of HR professionals as customers from across the globe flocked to the Big Easy for ACE 2017.

The 8th annual Achievers Customer Experience conference was an unparalleled success, as clients and prospective customers exchanged ideas with independent HR thought leaders and decision makers representing some of the world’s most recognizable brands.

Day 1 of the conference kicked off with a series of lively and engaging speakers who introduced the various themes that were weaved throughout the rest of the talks. From the intersection of technology and personalization to navigating organizational change with an aligned workforce, the introductory speeches laid the foundation for a series of thought-provoking breakout sessions aimed at changing the way the world works! Major announcements were made during the event, including Achievers revealing the 2017 Top Category Winners for the Most Engaged Workplaces Awards and the release of Achievers Listen, a suite of tools that is taking employee engagement to the next level.

From the grand ballroom of the majestic Royal Sonesta Hotel, attendees were introduced to some of the developing trends in the employee engagement work space and various success stories from members of the Achievers family:

Achievers’ Chief Technology Officer, Aris Zakinthinos, introduced CHRISTUS St. Michael, who discussed how the implementation of their employee success platform in 2012 had a monumental impact on their business objectives, including a significant increase in recognitions given and leadership engagement as well as a remarkable decrease in their turnover rate, down to 6.4%, well below the industry standard of 19.4%. To read more about Christus Health’s success, click here.

Next up was Blackhawk Network CEO Talbott Roche, who discussed how to use the Achievers platform to drive innovation within your organization. Drawing on first-hand experience, Ms. Roche outlined the benefits of creating an engaged workforce and how recognizing and rewarding their creative potential yields great returns to your bottom line. Ms. Roche went on to highlight some of the success other members of the Achievers family were having with their respective programs.

One of the more recent success stories comes out of Michigan, home to Meijer Inc., a supercenter chain with stores across the United States.

From President and CEO Rick Keyes and Recognition and Engagement Manager, Randi Roehling, we heard about the monumental impact their focus on employee engagement has had since they launched late last year. Discussing how they laid the groundwork for a successful launch of their M-Team program, the duo illustrated the importance of executive buy-in, highlighting the amazing 12,000 recognitions sent out by Mr. Keyes in a few short months.

Next came Achievers’ very own Vice President of Product Development, Egan Cheung, who proudly announced the launch of the much-anticipated Achievers Listen tool. Achievers Listen is a suite of tools that empowers employees to give continuous feedback on what’s working well and what needs to be improved. It provides managers with recommended actions based on their team‘s unique values and culture. We know that every employee is different and to engage your entire workforce, we must avoid a “one size fits all” approach. Achievers new functionality allows you to do just that.

Closing out the morning discussions was an incredible speech from one of the most inspiring young women many in the crowd had the privilege to see. Hannah Alper capped off the introduction to ACE 2017 with a discussion on how minor actions can lead to big change, leaving the crowd both humbled and inspired, ready to springboard into a trio of speaking tracks which individually focused on thought leadership within the HR space (Aspire), best practices for running successful programs (Achieve) and the exciting product functionality and releases from Achievers (Accelerate).

The first day closed out with an amazing event hosted by Achievers. Nearly 300 conference attendees joined a traditional second line parade and enjoyed a lively march through Bourbon Street. The end destination was B.B. King’s Blues Club, where all were treated to some of the best cuisine and music New Orleans has to offer.

After an unforgettable night in the Big Easy, the crowd gathered on Day 2 for a rousing and humorous presentation on Fearless Leadership from Cary Lohrenz, a celebrated author and leader who became the first female fighter pilot in the US Navy. Her experience navigating the inherent challenges of breaking down barriers and shifting individual perspectives prompted unique insights into strategic leadership and diversity training, topics that significantly influence any business’s bottom line.

Closing out the conference was none other than David Novak, author and former CEO of YUM Brands (parent company to Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut). Voted the “2012 CEO of the year”, Mr. Novak knows how to build powerful and diverse organizations. As the leader of over 1.5 million employees, he understands the awesome power of recognition. In his own words, he succinctly drove home what much of the conference covered: “Everyone brings value, worth, and individualism. You need to bring your team together. When you give people respect, appreciation and let them know that they count, they’re going to go to the moon for you.”

With that, ACE 2017 wrapped up. From keynote speakers to customer success stories, the conference illustrated the importance employee engagement and how to get the most of out of your workforce. With the sights, sounds and flavours of New Orleans still fresh on their minds, participants will be able to apply fresh ideas to their programs and drive success within their organizations.

Achievers would like to thank all speakers and every client, partner and friend for their participation in this year’s events. Stay tuned for more information on ACE 2018 in Toronto. Check out photos from ACE 2017 here.

Want to learn more about what was discussed at ACE 2017? Check out 4 Strategic Drivers of General Motors’ Adoption of Recognition Technology, which was written by ACE 2017 attendee and analyst Ben Eubanks.

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Also, while you’re at it, make sure to check out ACE 2017 attendee Coralie Sawruk’s blog post covering her ACE 2017 experience and why she is an advocate for employee recognition.

About the Author 
Darren SavageDarren Savage is currently a Customer Success Manager who works out of Achievers’ Toronto office. Prior to his arrival at Achievers, Darren was a journalist for various publications in the Greater Toronto Area. He left the profession to explore the world before transitioning into a sales role where he provided immersive educational experiences through travel for high school students. He now manages a diverse portfolio at Achievers where he helps his clients develop successful employee engagement programs.







ACE 2017

Event Activities at ACE 2017 in New Orleans, September 12-13, 2017

The effect of employee engagement on key business objectives is staggering. According to Gallup, highly engaged business units see:

  • a 17 percent increase in productivity
  • 24 percent less employee turnover
  • a 41 percent reduction in absenteeism

With such dramatic increases in crucial aspects of business sustainability, the importance of employee engagement cannot be ignored. While there are numerous techniques used to address specific business objectives, cultivating a culture of engagement can result in improvements across a large swath of these seemingly disconnected categories.

If your organization is suffering in business-critical areas such as those described above, please join us at our biggest event of the year, Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2017.

Our incredible two-day conference is calling The Big Easy home this year, so make plans to be at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in New Orleans on September 12-13. You’ll have the opportunity to network with hundreds of HR thought leaders, executives, and experts, offering their thoughts as to how to implement and maintain a world-class engagement program.

The fun isn’t limited to just ACE. The Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards Gala kicks-off the festivities the evening prior. Not only does The Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards recognize the employers in North America that best display innovation in engaging their workplaces, it features a variety of opportunities for inspiration and education. Past winners include top brands, such as KPMG, Netsuite, Smart & Final, and Ericsson. Join us to rub elbows with the top performers and thought leaders in the HR and employee engagement space.

Jump In On ACE’s 3 Tracks

With three presentation tracks designed to inspire, innovate, and engage, you’ll gain insight as to how some of the most successful companies have leveraged employee engagement to meet key business objectives.

  1. Aspire (Thought Leadership Track) – Some of the most innovative minds in HR offer their thoughts on topics such as engaging the modern workforce and using value alignment to drive engagement.
  2. Achieve (Customer Success Track) – Learn how the most successful Achievers customers launched and leveraged their engagement and recognition platform to increase engagement across borders and obtain measurable business results.
  3. Accelerate (Product Track) – Achievers product experts demonstrate the capabilities of the Achievers platform, and how to use them to maximize ROI and ensure the most important engagement challenges of our customers are being met.

Be Inspired by This Year’s Keynote Speakers

Leave ACE 2017 feeling inspired and motivated by our amazing lineup of keynote speakers. 

David Novak






David Novak
Former Chairman & CEO, YUM Brands
Author of “The Unlikely CEO” and “Taking People with you”

As CEO of YUM (the parent company of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC), David was responsible for overseeing more than 41,000 restaurants in over 120 countries, employing over 1.5 million employees worldwide.

Novak’s leadership and drive to empower diverse workforces is the very bedrock of Yum!’s astounding growth story. Novak’s deep commitment to building great leaders and a vibrant organization is best evidenced by the fact that he has personally trained thousands of Yum! managers while he was CEO. In his book and in his keynote presentation, Novak delivers a battle-tested leadership guide on how to build great companies through developing great talent. 

Carey Lohrenz






Carey Lohrenz
First Female F-14 Tomcat Fighter Pilot in the U.S. Navy

Having flown missions worldwide as a combat-mission-ready United States Navy pilot, Carey Lohrenz is used to working in fast moving, dynamic environments, where inconsistent execution can generate catastrophic results. The same challenges are found in business: markets change, customer needs evolve and if you do not adapt quickly your company is at risk.

Carey is a powerhouse in the field of delivering engaging leadership, high performing organizations and diversity training that directly impacts a company’s ROI and bottom line. Her experience in the all-male environment of fighter aviation and her ability to pass on the lessons Learned in her career allow her to deliver insight and guidance from a credible platform on women’s leadership Issues.

In addition to our amazing lineup of keynote speakers, we will also be offering breakout sessions from thought leaders such as:

Cara Silletto





Cara Silletto
President & Chief Retention Officer at Crescendo Strategies

Workforce thought leader Cara Silletto, MBA, is the President & Chief Retention Officer at Crescendo Strategies, a company committed to reducing unnecessary employee turnover for clients across the country by bridging generational gaps and making leaders more effective in their roles.

Tamra Chandler





Tamra Chandler
CEO and Co-Founder of PeopleFirm

Tamra Chandler is a bona fide people maven. She’s spent the majority of her career thinking about people, researching how they’re motivated, and developing new and effective ways for organizations to achieve the ultimate win-win: inspired people driving inspiring performance. She’s also the CEO and co-founder of PeopleFirm, one of Washington State’s fastest-growing businesses and most successful women-owned firms.

Ben Eubanks





Ben Eubanks
Principal Analyst, Lighthouse Research

Ben Eubanks is a human capital management industry analyst who helps companies and vendors with strategy, content, and more. Ben has over seven years of tactical and strategic experience spanning all areas of HR and he is a nationally-recognized author and speaker on trends and best practices in human capital management. Ben is the principal analyst at Lighthouse Research & Advisory where he oversees the development of research, assets, and insights to support HR, learning, and talent vendors across the globe.

And this is just a taste of some of the speakers this year. Check out the entire list of ACE 2017 speakers here.

Stay tuned for more updates and details on ACE 2017, as well as a series of guest blogs from featured speakers at this year’s event. Also, don’t forget to join the conversation on social media with the hashtag #AACE17 and by following @Achievers on Twitter.

Register now to claim your spot at ACE 2017. The first Po’ boy is on me. See you in New Orleans!

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About the Author

Iain FerreiraIain Ferreira is the Content Marketing Manager at Achievers. He lives in San Francisco. You can view his Linkedin profile here.