As I prepared for my third CDAA conference, which again includes co-presenting a workshop, I found myself reflecting on my new profession as a career practitioner and how it might relate to my work with clients. It’s only been two and a half years since I transitioned from the world of human resources — and what a journey it’s been.
Sparked by a combination of my graduate certificate studies and the CPD requirements for CDAA membership, I have no doubt that I am now a convert to the benefits of professional development (PD). I sometimes share with clients my experience of leaving an organisation after 17 years with practically no external professional network and minimal exposure to PD.
Although this is embarrassing to admit, I have probably attended more conferences and been exposed to greater PD opportunities in the past two years than during the previous 17! I had my degree (surely that meant I knew everything I needed to know), my career had always flourished and I had no plans to leave my employer. If only I had known then what I know now.
Fast forward a couple of years and I have adopted the idea that the only employment security that exists is the one we provide ourselves. We achieve this through maintenance and extension of our skills and network, and our ability to articulate our value to prospective employers. I now accept (and espouse) that it’s all about employability — and, for me, conferences and PD have a big role to play in that! I loved my first industry conference, CDAA Sydney 2013, but can also credit it with meeting my now frequent co-presenter Belinda Barnett — we both share a passion for advancing the position of women — and the amazing Jo Shambler, with whom I was fortunate to enjoy a mentoring relationship in the year following. I expanded my knowledge and network and love recognising and chatting with industry colleagues at various events.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I certainly hope that I will always find the time and budget to dedicate to PD. It can feel like the costs add up, and I no longer have an employer to fund my development, yet I actually suspect that dipping into my own pocket means that I extract every ounce of value from the experience!
After counting down the days until Perth, we’re all here — or reading from home — and can surely agree that professional development has many benefits for all.
By Donna Thistlethwaite