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.

Arend Hoogervorst

Editor: Practical Environmental Options

Managing Partner: Eagle Environmental