Professional Development: Is it worth the business investment?

Investing in professional development (PD) gets one asking what, where, and when. What courses, certificates, and conferences are worthwhile? What will take my business to the next level, or help an employee elevate performance? What ROI and outcome do I expect? Where do I go to find the best quality education and most up-to-date data and industry information? When is the best time to invest in PD?

Though it can be a commitment, professional development is arguably as important as the revenue-making work we do, as it keeps knowledge base and skill set current, widens perspective and can prevent career stagnation. According to Gallup’s State of American Workplace report, nearly 70% of U.S. employees are disengaged at work.

Alicia Reese is a certified Professional Coach helping her clients advance their careers and life goals. In an article she wrote for Forbes, “Five strategies to drive your career success in 2018,” she suggests in relation to avoiding career stagnation, “start with an end in mind.” Whether you are looking to enhance leadership skills as a business owner, or wanting to empower your employees with knowledge and skill acquisition, think about the impact you and your business are looking to make on the world. Reese recommends vision boards to get a big picture. Another way to widen horizons and attain new perspectives is to invest in professional development.

Businesses and business owners invest in professional development for multiple reasons, some of which are:

1. The business is seeing a surge in a new client vertical.

2. Ideal client description has shifted because of new or changing desires and needs.

3. Needing to fill gaps in a business, or vary an offering.

4. Desire to boost employee performance and give more autonomy to key people.

5. To maintain or boost company morale—investment in personal and career growth for yourself or employees sets the tone for great company culture.

6. Increase expertise in your industry and be able to speak at a conference.

6. To feel INSPIRED!

There are many resources for professional development, and sifting through the opportunities out there can be overwhelming. Professional development comes in all different formats and can include conferences and workshops, certificate and diploma programs, and even online degrees. Choosing an organization with some kind of accreditation will ensure your investment is sound, and the information you learn is up-to-date and researched.

Some of the professional development opportunities available online can be found here:

  • The Conference Board of Canada is a non-profit organization that offers all sorts of conferences and events to learn about anything from leadership and social media to enterprise risk management and corporate culture. They also offer webinars and courses in strategy, HR practices, leadership success, and more.
  • is an online learning platform founded by Stanford professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller. It offers courses, specializations, and degrees online, all taught by universities across the globe, including Stanford, UC Davis, University of Alberta, University of Toronto, and National Taiwan University. Subjects include everything from Indigenous Canada to learning Spanish, digital manufacturing and design to attaining a Masters in Computer Science.

· Most universities have extension programs and offer executive training and professional development opportunities. The University of Alberta Professional Development lineup is but one place to find career development opportunities. On the business front, they offer a Certificate in Interdisciplinary Leadership Studies, and the Alberta School of Business offers Executive Education certificates, including in financial management and selling and negotiating. They also offer a 20-month Executive MBA program.

  • Canadian Management Centre offers courses and workshops in French and English. Global Knowledge offers training and certifications in IT, including analytics and data management, and Blockchain.
  • LinkedIn Learning also offers online courses under the Technology, Creative and Business banners, and include learning anything from photography, graphic design or IT infrastructure to game design and development, data science or leadership.

You don’t know what you are missing until you see for yourself in the world of professional development. Whether it’s a simple, but precious nugget of information you take away from a course or conference, or a new perspective that leads to building a new department in your organization or revenue stream in your business, it’s worthwhile.


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