By Ray Petersen — Many expatriates are currently preparing for the annual summer migration to cooler climates as the intensity of the summer heat bites, just that little bit harder. Some go on holiday, some to visit family and friends, but many, believe it or not, to pursue professional development opportunities. Swami Vivekananda, a disciple of Ramakrishna, once wrote, “Spread ideas, go from village to village, from door to door, for only then will there be real work. Otherwise, lie complacently on your bed and ringing the bell now and then is some sort of disease, pure and simple.” I think he was being critical of those who ‘rest on their laurels’, so to speak.
I’m not certain that enough of us appreciate the benefits of continuous professional development, or CPD, as it’s acronymically known, but in terms of keeping yourself prepared to take advantage of new opportunities, and experiences, as they arise, CPD does have significant benefits. This will differ from a training and development plan, of the type that an employer may have in place to enhance their organisation, as it is driven by, and particular to you, an individual.
Just to clarify this, the distinction would be that training tends to be linear, or sequential, in that you will learn one skill that will enable you to do another, more complicated skill, and so on. The specific assessment of achievement is by nature competence-based, and will lead to more advanced or complex understanding, but always with the narrower
employer or industry focus that is understandable.
After all, an employer is rarely going to train you to become a more valued employee in another sector, or worse, for another employer in the same sector.
For a start, you need to understand that CPD is actually a process of many components, and the first is to ensure that your current professional development is documented appropriately, detailing the qualifications, skills and experience you have, and importantly your authentic reflections on the value of those qualifications and how they are enhancing your future.
We all need to improve, but it’s not that we’re not good enough, it’s that we can be even better.
Your professional development, as I said, driven by you, is based on a holistic appreciation of what you have achieved, your experiences, your ability to be analytical, reflect on your achievements, and to be critical of the balance you have achieved.
I can, to some extent, understand why some feel that CPD is “only for teachers,” but the uncomfortable reality is that the education sector has recognised the value of staying professionally aware, while many others have not.
That said, I spoke to Ben Ewing from Al Rashdi Ewing Advocates and Legal Consultants, Muscat, and Abdallah Elchami from Najah Consultants last week, and they are in the process of creating unique professional development opportunities for young Omanis in the legal sector, so not everyone has a closed mind to the concept.
CPD requires you to be aware of both life and career objectives, and should never underestimate the value of informal learning experiences such as travel, relationships, and observations.
Most people I know have only embraced CPD later in life, yet you can understand its merit if you recognise that it allows you to appreciate, and have an overview of the current state of your qualifications and experience to date. It stands as a constant
reminder of how far you have progressed, and make you feel positive about yourself.
It will allow you to see if your areas of enthusiasm are directing you appropriately, or whether your career goals should be re-assessed. In this way, your reflections will allow you to identify gaps in your knowledge, skills or understanding, without being over-critical of yourself.
There can be no doubt either, that maintaining a self-awareness of your professional situation will be apparent to future employers, thus opening you up to potentially greater areas of responsibility, an enhanced reputation, and of course, greater compensation. Apple supremo Steve Jobs once said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
Know yourself, and love who and what you are, both personally and professionally, to become all that you can be, but most importantly, what you want to be.