Introduction to Continuing Professional Development
Continuing professional development is a lifelong activity to ensure that you develop your professional competence, upgrade your skills and keep yourself appraised of developments.
For directors and governance professionals it includes corporate governance, developments in the corporate sphere – legal, regulatory and market – and your own functional skills. These are likely to include strategy and management, and could also include finance, legal, human relations etc.
Remember: where regulation and litigation are concerned, ignorance is not an excuse.
At board level you are expected to have a broad range of skills and experience, and a high level of awareness of current affairs.
CPD covers a wide range of activities from reading a national paper and monitoring TV and radio news to attending formal courses.
Your CPD objectives can include generally developing your skills, keeping up to date with developments and targeting specific new skills and competences.
CPD is a personal journey owned and managed by you. Most professional institutions have CPD requirements, expecting you to undertake up to 30 hours CPD every year.
CPD schemes normally work on the basis of collecting points, related to the time devoted to the learning. For an activity to count towards CPD points it must be relevant to your career, contain significant intellectual or practical content and have a clear learning objective and outcome.
Many workshops and events for professionals advertise the relevant points that can be earned and might even provide a certificate of attendance/completion as evidence.
Schemes are normally trust-based but you do need to keep a record. The CPD Programme for Governance Professionals includes a personal study planner and log for you to do this, which also provides a structure for creating an effective personal development plan and following it throughout a twelve month period.
Your professional development plan should involve a mix of general and strategic objectives, and a mix of different types of activity. These typically include:
- Newspapers and magazines, including The Economist
- Specialist media such as the Harvard Business Review and professional journals
- Newsletters and blogs
- Self-study programmes, online or DVDs
- Live workshopsShort courses
- Professional education courses leading to relevant qualifications
- Networking event talks (not including social time)
- Conferences and exhibitions
- Webinars and podcasts
- Study visits
- Planning/research for an article or presentation in relation to business, economics, corporate governance or other subjects for the public benefit
- Providing coaching or mentoring
- Membership of a committee or working party of a professional institution, trade association etc.
The UK Institute of Directors recommends that you plan your development programme in advance, and over a reasonable period, say two years, in terms of what you wish to achieve, and the steps that you will take to do so. They suggest three questions to consider when completing your CPD record:
- How relevant was the learning to your career?
- Can you state how you will use that learning?
- Can you provide evidence of having undertaken specific learning activities?
The Chartered Management Institute recommends using all four styles in a cycle:
- Reflection – What are my needs or objectives?
- Planning – What am I going to do?
- Evaluation – What have I learned?
- Action – What have I done?
In addition, you should include a revision cycle in which you review recent learnings two or three times to mitigate the natural loss of memory with time; perhaps review recent entries each time you update your CPD record.
The purpose of your CPD activity is to develop your knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours. This is where reflection is so important. Many people find that a daily journaling session is valuable and rewarding.