How to plan your professional development
The new year is a good time for strategy, reflecting on both business and personal growth. Before deciding on the year’s learning, however, it’s worth taking the time to set out your goals
The actor David Niven once famously said, “Never stop learning and adapting. The world is always changing.” This maxim is particularly apt when considering the role of CAs today, the demands of the role and the emergence of new technologies.
This time of year is often a good time for members to take stock, consider their personal goals for the year ahead and set out a route map to get there. First of all, ask yourself these questions:
- What skills do you need to acquire in order to get ahead and adapt in a fast-changing world while maintaining the standard expected of a CA?
- Can you identify any obvious gaps in your continuous professional development (CPD) you may need to fill to maintain your chartered status?
- In planning your year ahead, it is useful to set clearly identifiable goals, and think about anything your skill set may currently lack.
- Then you need to clarify what kind of activities you should be undertaking in order to help you achieve those goals. What courses could you undertake to progress your career?
It’s also worth doing a personal SWOT analysis (see below). No plan is set in stone: circumstances change and different opportunities arise, but it is important to have a framework and foundation from which you can build.
Strengths and weaknesses
Start by asking yourself some questions about your current strengths and weaknesses. You may also want to speak to your peers to help you identify both your strong points and those areas with room for improvement.
|What are your educational achievements? What qualifications, degrees, certificates, diplomas or skills do you have?||Are there any gaps in your education or training?|
|What do others say are your strengths? Have you had any positive feedback that came as a surprise?||What do you avoid doing and why?|
|Do you bring negative habits to work, e.g. poor time-keeping, disorganisation, moodiness? Is there anything your peer group does well that you do not?|
Opportunities and threats
It is also important to take a look outside yourself. Think about the wider world and consider the opportunities and threats that apply in your current situation.
|Is your industry growing and, if so, what does that mean for your job opportunities?||What are the external factors affecting your company or industry? What problems do you currently face at work?|
|Are there new developments in your field and how can you get involved?||What is changing in your own field?|
|Can you see any opportunities for your company, division or department that are not currently being addressed?||Have you considered the challenges posed by AI, machine learning, blockchain, cyber security, GDPR etc...?|
What is happening in your company |
and what does that mean for you?
|What are the obstacles to your career ambitions?|
|Do you have contacts who can help you get ahead?||Who are your key competitors for the next project, promotion or opportunity?|
|Do your personal strengths open up any specific opportunities, e.g. speaking a foreign language?||Do any of your weaknesses threaten your career progression?|
How can ICAS help
After completing your SWOT analysis, you need to address the weaknesses and threats that you have identified. The ICAS CPD model places the onus on each member to decide what their own needs are. We do, though, offer a range of courses to aid personal development and learning.
In 2019 the most popular courses and topics were Financial Accounting & Reporting, Business Strategy, Leadership, Tax Strategy, Planning & Compliance, and Digital & Technology (including artificial intelligence, blockchain, cyber security, GDPR, Making Tax Digital, accounting systems). Given the speed with which technology is changing our world, the last of these courses, in particular, may be seen as an increasingly essential addition to your skill set.
In addition to our face-to-face courses, we can also provide online learning, providing the flexibility to learn around your busy professional life.
Our new initiative, online classroom live (OCR Live), in partnership with BPP, offers an extensive selection of live and interactive online courses which members can follow at their own speed.
Our online shared knowledge service, CA Connect, will also prove valuable in bringing members together to ask questions and discuss matters of mutual interest. To encourage members to try online learning, ICAS and BPP are running a promotional offer of a 20% discount on all OCR Live courses booked by 29 February 2020.
Find the right course for you: