Each lesson is a direct personal experience. My 45 year career was packed with memorable happenings, but the people – whether colleagues or customers – taught me there was a right way to do good business, whilst making friends and helping organisations grow and prosper along the way.

The CPD Presentation

CPD is the 3-letter abbreviation for Continuing Professional Development. It refers to the process of tracking and documenting the skills, knowledge and experience that a person gains both formally and informally in their job, beyond any initial training. It’s a record of what you experience, learn and then apply.

CPD may be a requirement of membership of a professional body. It can help to reflect, review and document learning and to develop and update professional knowledge and skills.

So where do I come into this?

The professions – accountancy, law, architecture etc – are particularly wedded to CPD as a measuring tool for personal development, and whilst it is down to the individual to progress and instigate a plan for him/herself, it is very often the professional practice which sets up meetings and presentations, nearly always at lunchtime. The deal was that the invited presenter (me) would provide lunch for those sitting in. This would be a large tray of sandwiches to be eaten whilst I was presenting, and if I was lucky there may be one left at the end for me. Strictly time-limited, they were not a sales exercise, but a learning and development tool for those attending. I performed scores of such presentations in the latter years of my career, to the architectural design profession, for whom my company was an accredited CPD provider.

Whilst being professionally managed by both parties, even to the extent of issuing a certificate to all those attending, it was an opportunity to expose both the partners and ‘workers’ in a practice, to (in my case) the latest trends in design technology. Case studies would explain why other practices had decided to follow the trends, with the unspoken sub-text being ‘if they’re doing it, why aren’t you, because if you don’t you’ll be left behind‘. This tack was often very much in the minds of the partner/director i/c within the practice, who wanted to promote the use of newer technology, but regarded the CPD as a way of ‘persuading’ others.

The younger members of the audience were nearly always vocally enthusiastic about the possibilities presented by the latest design tools – after all, if they didn’t have these skills, where was their career heading. The more senior people were more measured in their attitudes, but, whilst it would mean a considerable investment in new software and staff training, they would have been denying an opportunity to move their businesses forward. My saying ‘Of course, the partners/directors will have a medium to long-term plan for the future‘ usually resulted in muffled laughter, sometimes even from the company leaders. There was rarely any resentment in my saying this, even if each was being ‘hoist with his own petard’, and grudgingly knew that there was really no choice than to keep pace at a minimum with their competitors. Anyway, who would want to work for a business which didn’t have a plan for the future!

The Moral

Not everyone has the luxury of being accredited to give CPD presentations, but they fulfil many and different objectives, both for an individual and for their employer organisation. It helped both me and my company look professional, and they are a very powerful influencer in the overall process of helping to give individuals and clients a leading edge within their own profession.