Get the most out of CPD by making it personal

Continuing professional development (CPD) is a constantly evolving area as finance functions respond to an increasing number of internal and external pressures. We spoke to Rob Collie, Director of Group Finance Delivery at Sky, a CIMA development quality partner organisation, about the value of consistently high standards of CPD.

The home entertainment and communication market is moving forward apace, with constant challenges from new competitors, new technology and new media. “What sort of people do we need to embrace that change and respond?”, asks Rob Collie, Director of Group Finance Delivery at Sky. “One key thing is a ‘can-do’ attitude – taking ownership for performance and delivering results in the right way.”

Collie says Sky’s ambition is to have the best finance team in Europe by supporting great win-win decisions and by making it “simple by design” for finance or users of finance to “do finance stuff”. “To do that we need to operate as one team, which means each individual and team collaborating and operating at the best of their abilities. CPD is essential in helping to achieve this,” says Collie.

Sky has a matrix of skill and behaviour expectations at each level in the organisation. Business priorities feed into the matrix and this helps identify development gaps in individuals and teams.

Collie says that a recent example of how this worked was “a growing recognition that we needed to get better at giving each other good feedback. So we designed a bespoke training course for Finance, which everyone is attending, including our most senior people. This will ensure we all speak the same language and can really help each other.”

Sky measures the effectiveness of CPD closely. Managers are tasked with making sure personal development plans are of high quality and may be audited. Every six months, employees have a more formal discussion on their performance with their manager, and the managers come together to ensure consistency, completeness and fairness.

It also surveys employees about these discussions and their general development. “That makes it more about the individual and helping them feedback about their managers,” says Collie. “Sky, like any business, is a group of individuals who have chosen to come together to work. Every day we need to ensure we get both the business results as well as what we each want personally. That is why at Sky, your ongoing development is a must-have for your personal and our business success.”

Where should you start with CPD?

CPD is more than just a box-ticking exercise. The key to valuable CPD is to make it personal.

You should ask yourself:

What are my development needs? and What are the needs of my business?

Begin by going back to basics and identify where your development needs sit and segment your analysis into broad sections:

  • technical knowledge
  • conduct and ethics
  • business development
  • practice management
  • personal development

You should ask yourself the following questions for any CPD activity you take on:

  • Why did you choose this activity?
  • Does it fit in with your personal development plan?
  • How does it add value to your knowledge and skill set?
  • Can you put this theoretical learning into practice in your firm?

Think about tailoring your personal development plan to meet your individual needs and goals.

CPD at CIMA

CIMA professional development is the continuing professional development scheme for CIMA members, supporting members with their career by helping them to identify their future learning needs. Unlike other schemes you may be familiar with, CIMA doesn’t prescribe specific activities or number of units or hours. Instead CIMA’s policy gives you the freedom to decide how you are going to develop, so that you can focus on activities that are relevant to your role and to your individual development needs.

As business becomes increasingly complex, this approach allows CIMA members to remain up to date and relevant. Using the CGMA Competency Framework, CIMA members are asked to identify any gaps in their technical, business, personal and leadership skills, then select the most appropriate activities to address these gaps. Planned activities are recorded within the Competency and Learning website.

Once each activity has been completed, members record what they learned, how they have applied that learning and any changes they would make next time. The plan is revisited regularly, and the CPD cycle is reviewed at least once every 12 months.

Find out more about CPD requirements for CIMA members.

CIMA is the world's largest professional body of management accountants.

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