When I left University, the Falklands War had not long finished, pictures of the Brixton Riots were shocking the nation and we were in the grip of a deep recession. Hmm! Anyway, as a young graduate I had yet to see the light and a career in HR was not really at the forefront of my thinking. I do remember going for an interview for a job in sales, financial services I think. Two things remain with me from the enthusiastic presentation from the sales manager. “ If you are going to sell the product, you have to believe in the product” was one of his mantras. The second was, “When you glance in a shop window and see yourself, you have to go “wow, I am beautiful and I am good”. Needless to say I decided that I was not quite right for sales — it was not quite my style!

However, when it comes to the PPMA’s Annual Seminar, to be held in Birmingham on the 26th and 27th April, I am very happy to resurrect that sales career. In reality, the product sells itself. We have two days crammed with relevant topics, excellent speakers, lively debates and fantastic networking opportunities. I believe that there is no more important time for people in public sector HR to come together, to share experiences, learn from each other and work together on the challenges that we all face.

These are tough times for the sector and the people working in it. But they are exciting times also and a real agenda for change is emerging. I believe that the seminar is addressing the things that matter in the sector and that if you come along, you will leave Birmingham with some real practical ideas and solutions that will be right for your workplace.

And it is not all “hair shirts and flagellation”, as we will be celebrating through the PPMA Awards best practice in people management, development and recruitment in the public sector. All this at a very competitive price.

All details, including a draft of the programme, are on the website. Highlights from the programme include case studies from across the sectors, from Essex and Shropshire County Councils, Cafcass, West Midlands Police, BT and GKN. We will be reporting back on important research the PPMA has been undertaking with its partners, the LGA and Edinburgh Napier University on the new deal for local government workers and with Gatenby Sanderson on Leadership in the public sector.

There are sessions to bring you up to date with changes in employment law and pensions. We will introduce leading-edge thinking on the use of social media to boost engagement, the management of people risks and developments on reward. Our speaker list includes Lord Michael Bichard, Terry Huggins, President of Solace, Heather Wakefield, Dean Royles from the NHS, Ben Page and a number of other leading figures from the public, private and voluntary sectors.

If Carlsberg did HR seminars, this would be it. I hope to see you there.