Investing in continuous professional development

Opportunities for career success spring up from time to time. To be able to make the best of these opportunities, one must be ready and adequately prepared.

Many successful professionals and business executives have benefitted greatly by regularly topping up their knowledge base. These people understand, all too well, that those who carelessly neglect to update their corporate and professional tool-kit will flounder in tomorrow’s business and professional environment.

Mainly Self- Development

Thomas J Fay, senior vice president of communications at United Technologies Corporation is spot on when he says: Terms like career development or leadership development can encourage wrong thinking. Career development is mainly self-development. No one is ‘ developed ‘ as a leader or a manager or a professional. They develop themselves. They may require a corporate culture that is open to development.

One has to look at continuing professional development (CPD) as a life long process. It is also a function of energy, dedication, ambition and intelligence. Many believe that people who wish to develop can do so under almost any circumstances. People who are not so inclined will not be developed under any circumstances.

Structured and Unstructured Development

It is generally recommended by professional bodies for its members to devote a minimum of 32 hours per annum to structured development such as attending short courses, seminars and workshops. It might also include undertaking academic study, utilising open learning programmes, developing and delivering training programmes as well as participating in conferences, meetings and briefs.

Likewise, these professional bodies also recommend that its members spend a minimum of 2 to 3 hours per week on unstructured development, such as reading technical articles, business weeklies or even watching a television programme on economic or business matters.

Keep Abreast of Trends and Developments

Technical competence alone will not suffice in the hectic and demanding business and professional world. The well rounded business leader or professional is the kind of person who can critically appraise business and/or professional situations and cope with a range of problems and issues.

In addition, the potential corporate leader must develop the capacity to approach complex issues drawing on several strands of learning, coupled with a sound understanding of the wider business, economic and political environment.

Meeting the Changing Needs of Employers

Whoever wisely invests in CPD will stand to gain the following competitive advantages:

  • Enhance the added value of their qualifications
  • Add to their intellectual capital
  • Meet the changing needs of employers and a dynamic business environment

In planning and deciding on the type, range and frequency of CPD due attention should be given to:

  • the stage you are now at in the management and professional hierarchy
  • the need to build on cumulative knowledge and practical experience gained thus far
  • the desirability to focus on specific key results areas

For this process to be truly effective, do carry out a realistic personal audit on your strengths and weaknesses.

An Attitude of Expectancy

Those with a positive mental attitude, high energy levels and infectious enthusiasm will stand out.

Employers will turn to them because in addition to sheer competence, their pro-active approach to self development has prepared them for increasing responsibilities and challenges.

These people are able to open more doors, strike better deals and attract energetic and resourceful people to work with them. They also set higher standards and get others to help them meet these standards.

These people, in short, have cultivated an attitude of expectancy. Achievers in particular have such an attitude. They do not grieve over failures rather they look around the corner in anticipation of good things that await them!

 It is simply an act of good judgement to invest in CPD.

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