While every organization looks for different skills in their talent, continuous improvement should be a part of any career plan. To set yourself apart from the pack, you’ve got to invest in your professional development, whether it’s attending a seminar or earning a professional certification.
“I strongly believe in continuing education, formal or informal,” says Nelson Rosamilha, project director at Agility Networks, an IT services provider in São Paulo, Brazil.
He credits the experience he gained earning professional certifications with helping him rescue a failing business unit. It wasn’t pretty: Forty-four projects were at high risk of contract breach. Through his coursework, though, he learned how to construct and monitor a quality plan, avoid rework, handle customer complaints and coach new project managers. And he put all those skills to good use on the job.
Continuing Education Must Also Be Ongoing Education
But to provide the most value, continuing education must be ongoing. As org charts flatten, companies are increasingly relying on their middle managers, according to a 2013 Harvard Business Publishing survey of more than 800 global executives and senior talent development professionals. And they expect them to be armed with sophisticated capabilities:
- 80% place a heightened focus on building change management skills.
- 77% said a leadership mindset is important.
- 76% ranked communication skills as a priority.
- 76% placed a high priority on the ability to manage talent.
"The greatest investment we can make in our career is in education"
To stay in sync with organizational needs—and keep advancing up the ranks—you need to constantly evaluate your skills. From there, you can fill any knowledge gaps with a targeted professional development plan.
“The greatest investment we can make in our career is in education,” says Carlos Augusto Freitas, director at consulting firm CAF – Facilities Management, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
How CMMI Training Has Made a Difference
Mr. Freitas’ CMMI training, along with multiple certifications and courses in project management, strategic management, executive communication and negotiation, have helped him improve performance in his organizations.
His ability to align his organization’s strategy to its operations—a skill he learned through his leadership development training—got him promoted to middle management. And he now occasionally works in his company’s project management office.
The future will inevitably bring complex organizational problems, such as developing the next generation of project managers or mastering new methodologies, Mr. Freitas says. And forward-thinking managers know they must adapt and evolve.
Stay Ahead of Market Trends
“Project professionals, at any level, should always be aware of market trends and pursue whatever education they can to stay ahead of them,” he says.
Desalination expert Gary Crisp frequently attends seminars, courses, lectures and on-the-job training sessions to stay up-to-date in his field, make new business contacts and improve his communication skills.
As part of his professional development, he also joined the International Desalination Association, a move that changed the course of his career. “It has lifted my status in the world and given me amazing connections at the highest levels in this field worldwide,” says Mr. Crisp.
All that professional development delivered a solid ROI. He recently left his position as global business leader for desalination at GHD, an engineering firm in Perth, Australia, to pursue an opportunity with a U.S. company, the CEO of which he met through the association.