As professionals, it’s important that we don’t see obtaining our professional qualifications as the end of our development journey, especially as we are still likely to have many decades of work ahead of us after obtaining the letters after our names. Because of this, our professions strongly emphasise that we continue developing beyond qualification, with increasing encouragement for learning over our lifetimes (‘lifelong learning’). A critical component of effective learning is identifying the goals of your desired development, which offer a reference point to compare your introspection, action and progress against.
As we race towards the end of the year, the time for performance appraisals is rapidly approaching again. They offer us the opportunity to reflect on our performance and development, as well as consider what we’d like to do differently in future. In this vein, this article explores the value of professional reflection, drawing from approaches followed across a number of professions. It considers Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and possible activities, and the shift from rules to principles and the increased flexibility for and responsibility on professionals to manage their professional development. Read more to explore different models of ‘reflective practice’, possible drawbacks, and practical frameworks to use for reflecting in a CPD context.
Our follow-on article on the topic of professional reflection ("Getting Value from Reflective Practice Discussions") then delves into feedback and discussion with others about our development, including examples of possible questions in a reflective practice discussion (or diffraction discussion, as at least one professional body calls it).
While prompted by a recent discussion with a protege, our latest real-life example uses a blend of situations to illustrate the issue and our suggestions. This blend includes real-life situations we’ve seen in the past and/or discussions we’ve had, in order to anonymise things somewhat… It is thus a composite, and “any resemblance to actual events or people, living or dead, is purely coincidental” - quite a paradox for a ‘real-life example’ post yes.
The composite example involves when your relationship with your long-standing employer ends unexpectedly, leaving you as a professional in the wilderness, unsure of how to proceed... And, this is sadly far more common than you might imagine. The uncertainty arises from multiple angles, including emotional, financial and perhaps self-belief and credibility too. Professional reputation may also be affected. In our experience, those most vulnerable to such a discontinuity are often the employees who:
When your employment relationship is a healthy, reciprocal, ‘through sickness and health’ one, the years of mutual sacrifice and commitment can make it much stronger. However, the employment relationship can be far more risky when your employer (the organisation) doesn’t feel the same way about you, akin to professing your eternal love to someone who only wants you for your immediate skills... Indeed, even if you have a strong relationship with your manager(s), this can be overridden by short-term organisational factors.
So, if you have all your eggs in one employment basket and as a result are at risk of being vulnerable in this way, and you take away only one thought from this article, please remember that less loyalty can be a good risk management/reduction strategy i.e. placing your eggs in different baskets. Read more to see why.
This article marks the second feature in our multi-part series on the careers, reflections and recommendations of independent Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) internationally. As some countries emphasise when a director is independent but others don’t, our shorthand NED includes independent NEDs (iNEDs). Part One in this series covered a spread of countries and financial services industries where the individuals gained executive experience, and their NED roles cover insurance, health, reinsurance, pensions/retirement and securities brokerage. This second instalment is similarly diverse, including bancassurance, financial planning, wealth management, asset management, insurance (life and general / property & casualty), and mortgages.
NED roles often form part of a portfolio career, where a number of different of roles are done concurrently, rather than only one fulltime corporate job. Portfolios can include both paid and volunteer positions: a mix of NED roles, part-time consulting, side commercial ventures, professional volunteering, community work and more… Plurality of roles is becoming increasingly common as the nature of work evolves.
Building on Part One, the vignettes in this second article offer further examples of the portfolio nature of NED roles. May their experiences encourage you to reflect on your own career aspirations. Read more below for the career experiences and suggestions of three more NEDs internationally: Margaret Carey, Ashok Gupta and Estella Chiu.