What's the point of ongoing professional development?
In "My CPD Life", a short series of blog posts to coincide with the launch of the AXELOS Professional Development Programme, experienced practitioners share their views on the value of keeping your skills and knowledge up-to-date.
The AXELOS Professional Development Programme - an online annual membership programme aligned to AXELOS’ global best practice frameworks - has been designed for individuals to ensure their skills and knowledge remain current while supporting them in their professional development.
1. How important has Continuing Professional Development (CPD) been in developing your skills and competencies?
CPD has been an essential part of my life. Ever since joining the British Computer Society 20 years ago, I’ve done CPD, enabling me to progress rapidly from a Member to a Fellow. It’s important that within life we continually try to develop our skills and learn; we need to take on new challenges and learn from our experiences and, more importantly, our mistakes. We often learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes. We should frequently review everything we do and ask:
- What did I do well or badly?
- How could I do this activity better next time?
- Can I apply my learnings in other areas?
- Can I share this knowledge with anybody else?
Throughout my life, and I am well over 60 now, I have always maintained a philosophy of “live to learn and learn to live”. Both aspects of this saying are important, though as you mature the emphasis changes. When you are young you live principally to learn but as you mature you need to learn to keep alive. I always remembered something my old maths teacher said: “there are two types of people in this world, them that are ignorant and knows they are ignorant and there’s them that’s just ignorant”.
I try and learn something new every day and, as I continue to learn, I’m still amazed at how little I really know.
2. Why is it important for practitioners to continue learning and developing beyond gaining a qualification?
It is obviously important for everyone to gain more knowledge and learn new skills. However, they are of no use unless we also have the capability to apply the knowledge and skills gained. There is no substitute for experience; it’s up to everybody to develop their own capability and to assist others, wherever possible, to develop theirs.
To challenge yourself continually – both physically and mentally – in life, is critical to developing. Only by keeping agile, both physically and mentally, can we really develop and realize our full potential.
3. Why do think it's important for your skills and knowledge to remain current in your sector?
The IT sector is a relatively young and rapidly changing industry. The technology, techniques, methods and practices are continually evolving so it is essential that our knowledge, skills and capabilities remain in line with industry developments. If they are not relevant they become, at best, ineffective, if not worthless.
4. How has CPD helped to differentiate you as a professional in your field?
As a consultant I am always presented with different challenges in different situations, in different organizations with different people. You have to learn to ‘adopt and adapt’ or you will never succeed. IT is not ‘a one size fits all’ industry; methods and practices need to be scaled and adapted to fit the needs of the people, the situation, the organization and the culture. The greater the capability of an individual the more value they are to the organization, provided they are willing and eager to share their knowledge and experience with others. My CPD has always focused on developing my capability, but has also had an aspect of developing others’ capability.
Developing the skills of others actually enables an individual to develop their own skills. By mentoring and coaching informally, or by formal education and training of others, an individual consolidates their own knowledge and can often learn from those they are leading.
5. What advice would you give to other practitioners about the value of CPD?
Abraham Lincoln said, 'the best way to predict your future is to create it'. By having a vision and a plan for where you want to take your life and your future career, you can steer your knowledge, skills and capability in the desired direction, otherwise you risk being driven by other people and events. Be the master of your own destiny by having a vision and a plan for your career and using CPD to take you on the right path you can achieve your life and career objectives.
See our Professional Development Programme section for more information
Is CPD important to you as a way of keeping informed and ahead within your industry? Have you found that helping colleagues is a vital part of your own professional development? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments box below.
Read Colin Rudd's previous AXELOS Blog Post, ITIL® – Why ‘Adopt and Adapt’ is the Only Way to Go.
More posts in AXELOS' My CPD Life series
My CPD Life - ITSM Consultant Barclay Rae
My CPD Life - independent PPM trainer, coach and consultant Steven Deneir
My CPD Life - project leadership coach and mentor Elise Stevens
My CPD Life - Interim Portfolio Director Craig Kilford
My CPD Life - Consultant Joanne Molesky
My CPD Life - director John Earwood
My CPD Life - Project Management Expert Centre Leader Dave Watson