My CPD Life - project leadership coach and mentor Elise Stevens

My CPD Life - project leadership coach and mentor Elise Stevens

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?

I view Continuing Professional Development (CPD) as an ongoing investment in my career. I continually invest in my skills through formal training, online courses, books, networking with other consultants/PMs, following industry blogs/social media groups and listening to podcasts.

This investment has given me a successful career in delivering process and technology projects.  Without this investment, this success would not have been possible. I believe that these skills enable me to be a business partner rather than just a Project Manager.

2 Why is it important for practitioners to continue learning and developing beyond gaining a qualification?

Business environments and supporting technologies are dynamic by nature and practitioners must continue to learn and develop their own skillsets to remain current. Formal qualifications are important, but are just the start of your development.

A great example is how Agile concepts and thinking have become important skills that organizations are seeking. Organizations are looking for PMs that are willing to grow and adapt to changing environments.

Ongoing development provides an opportunity for a practitioner to differentiate themselves from other PMs, tailor their skillsets and stand out from the crowd.

3 Why do you think it's important for your skills and knowledge to remain current in your sector?

In recent engagements in the local government sector, I found that organizations were being challenged to deliver cost-effective community services whilst ensuring quality remained high.

The community is embracing communicating with local government via social media channels and organizations are struggling to keep pace. By recognizing this significant shift, developing my expertise and adapting my skillset, I was able to advise key stakeholders on how social media could be used to engage with the community.

This illustrates how understanding technology and market trends and developing your knowledge can help you become a trusted advisor and remain relevant.

4 How has CPD helped to differentiate you as a professional in your field?

Early in my career I realized my interests and passions lay on the people side of project delivery. After analyzing my skillset, I realized getting business-type project roles required developing and refining my interpersonal and business process improvement skills.

I undertook formal and informal learning, including a Green Belt in Lean Six Sigma, subscribing to relevant industry blogs/social media groups and improving my interpersonal/influencing skills.

This gave insight into the project management and consultancy market, allowing me to identify a gap between what customers expected and what skillsets were available. By concentrating my development in this gap, I have been able to differentiate myself.

5 What advice would you give to other practitioners about the value of CPD?

Embrace CPD. Investing in growing your skills and knowledge is investing in your career. While formal training is important, informal training is just as valuable in helping you achieve your career goals.

Take time to identify your areas of passion and then embark on your voyage of discovery.

Be aware of trends in organizational requirements in your sector and work to adapt and improve your skillset and expertise to address those trends and keep yourself relevant.

Are you currently undertaking dedicated CPD activities or have you found other ways to keep yourself up-to-date within your industry? Do you make a conscious effort to continue development or have you found that changing demands of your role keep you informed and ahead in your profession? Please share your thoughts in the comments box below.

Read Elise Stevens' previous AXELOS Blog Post, Solutions for managing multiple small projects.

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 - Interim Portfolio Director Craig Kilford

My CPD Life - Consultant Joanne Molesky

director John Earwood

My CPD Life - Project Management Expert Centre Leader Dave Watson

My CPD Life - IT service management consultant Colin Rudd

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