NATO Hosts Successful Public Sector SIG in Belgium

Eighteen content sessions covered three themes: People. Processes. Technology -- and endeavored to answer one question: What is the right balance for public sector recruitment?  But the question was mainly rhetorical, used to set the stage for ATP's sixth annual Public Sector Special Interest Group conference held September 24th and 25th in Brussels, Belgium.

NATO provided the venue and the staffing to create a two-day, non-fee event for more than a hundred global Public Sector HR professionals. Delegates were welcomed to the NATO campus by Wayne J. Bush, the Secretary General's primay advisor for NATO-wide management issues.  He was followed up by keynote speaker Dr. Keith Amoss, a career coach with over 30 years UK and international experience which included serving as former NATOHQ Head of Talent Development. Dr. Amoss'  address titled "With robots around what is left for us to do?"  covered technological advances in creating robots that replace humans in workplace settings from reception to anchoring the news, and from personnel recruiting to investment advisement. He encouraged delegates to embrace the future and not to fear fabricated consequences of progress. "You could tell people that robots will take your jobs -- or you can say you will have a job that hasn't yet been invented," Amoss noteded, pointing out that according to world economic statistics, for every "seventy five million jobs which may be lost (to technology), 133 million will be created." He added that the human ability to feel empathy and create life will never be replaced.

Delegates to the conference were then offered three tracks of content sessions which covered People. Processes. Technology. At the conclusion of the meeting, attendees heard from closing keynoter Leonardo Cervera Navas, Director of the Office of the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), the Data Protection Authority of the EU,  who gave an overview of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and its impact on data privacy and protection of test takers. "Personal data has become the new oil of the 21st century and we are using it to build a new economy. It is the food that companies need to feed their marketing, selling, recruitment and artificial intelligence," he noted. And he urged delegates to make sure they are taking the appropriate steps necessary to protect their own personal data, and the data of others.  "I am not calling for a halt of progress - just making sure that some lines are not crossed," he emphasized.

Navas traced the history of the right of privacy - especially in Europe, where he said "we are traumatized by the 2oth century (during which) Nazis used computers to make lists and round up people." He pointed to the scandal of Cambridge Analytica, "Why did it get so big? Democracy has been threatened. This is a big deal. It shook up society that algorithms could influence an election...they knew how to get into the was a more subtle form of propaganda. The same way they could sell you shoes, they now sold you ideology."

In reference to the GDPR Navas again traced the evolution of the regulation noting that "first we had a directive, now we have a regulation."  Further, he noted, "we have clarified that its (data protection) about where the consumer is located -- not the company." Lastly he noted the ramping up of law enforcement, "now there are large fines attached to it (data privacy.)"  In conclusion Navas urged delegates that they must find a balance between revealing product or trade secrets and being transparent with a candidate. And he reminded those in HR that the data they collect, that is necessary for job selection, must be protected at all costs.

Presentations from this year's Public Sector SIG meeting are available on the ATP website at :

For 2019 the Public Sector SIG has been invited to Vienna by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). No date has been set yet.