I was approached by an Environmental Auditor colleague some time ago who was bemoaning the fact that his certification body required him to do Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and he had been auditing for 30 years, had attended as many courses on auditing and did not know what else he could do. Interesting quandary…when have you learnt enough about your profession?

Peer interaction is a good way to judge the state of one’s profession. Discussions, debates, workshops and presentations on trends, experiences, and new ideas all help to share good practice and encourage the development of best practice. Working in isolation can often cause people to “lose their professional nerve” and begin to self-doubt. The biggest challenge for a professional after “going solo” from the corporate world (that is after getting work to keep you going!) is making sure that an existing network of colleagues and peers is not only maintained but expanded. Intra-office discussion, debate and sharing tends to happen subconsciously within companies and one is not always aware of how important that contact and interaction is.

The common mechanisms are professional associations and their regular meetings, lectures and workshops. However, an unusual, but useful, disciplined approach is a cross between a study group and a college seminar. For example, a group of professionals get together on a regular basis, say monthly or quarterly, and commit to a programme of topics in their work sphere that all find challenging and which require additional research. Each topic is researched and introduced by a member in a short presentation and the topic is then discussed by the group at large. It works even better when members of the group do a little research of their own and bring information and questions to the sessions. It can be done in a private dining room with a meal included, or in the back room of a pub or club, or the board room of a friendly company or two.

At this point, I would like to shamelessly use this opportunity to share with you a Non-financial Auditor Masterclass Workshop that I will be facilitating from 24 & 25th May 2017. Subtitled, “Contributions to Continuous Improvement”, I plan to stick my neck out and share some of my auditing experiences from 20 years in the field (including some intriguing perspectives on the psychology of auditing) and present a few challenging scenarios, actual and theoretical, for participants to chew on. I hope to stimulate interaction and dialogue and to liven things up a little, I have included a role play using a model case which includes all of the worst elements of the worst audits I have ever been involved in. This role play, in different manifestations, has been successfully done about twenty times with post-graduate mature students, company internal audit practitioners and academics. If you are an auditor that fits the bill in my first paragraph and would like a challenge, please contact Michelle du Toit at Advantage a.c.t, (Tel:- 012 809-4210, Email:- training@advantageact.co.za ) for further information.

Arend Hoogervorst

Editor: Practical Environmental Options

Managing Partner: Eagle Environmental