Skill up: the future of professional development


As the new year gets underway, so does the desire to acquire new skills. The IoD’s new head of business development, Stephen Moore, explains why it’s never been easier to find a course to suit your personal development needs…

Brain surgery is not a skill you’d readily associate with the world of professional development. But for Stephen Moore (left), the IoD’s new head of business development – who holds a doctorate in neuroscience from Cambridge University and until recently taught the subject to undergraduates – there’s a clear link.

Moore, who joined the IoD in October, says: “The brain loves to learn – fundamentally, that is its job. At its core, learning is change. Learning changes the physical structure of the brain and is always happening – consciously and unconsciously.

“Neuroscience has revealed that learning is greatly enhanced in a collaborative context: our brains have evolved to work best when our emotions are positively charged through shared experience. This reinforces learning outcomes, increases motivation and challenges and generates more diverse solutions than those individuals who choose to learn alone.”

An upgraded and evolving range of personal development services is being made available to IoD members, including soon-to-be-launched new coaching and board evaluation offerings – introduced, in part, thanks to high demand for the IoD’s training courses such as the Chartered Director programme.

For the past three-and-a-half years Moore has worked for the online education business Floream and he also spent time at Google Squared – the search engine’s strategic digital marketing course, where he was responsible for enrolling up to 400 new senior managers each month.

Collaborative spirit

Group learning will be an integral facet of the new IoD courses on offer because, as Moore explains: “Effectively a group of about 15 or 16 delegates who begin a course of study together, proceed together through a series of professional developmental experiences, and end the course at the same time. Camaraderie and collaborative learning with experienced colleagues can result in lasting personal ties within the IoD network that aids career development and ongoing professional growth.”

A natural part of this is peer-to-peer-learning: “If you spend a year, on-and-off, on a course with somebody, you have much more opportunity to engage with them. And if you come from a similar background, you can share your learnt experiences with other people – it’ll allow you to be much more receptive towards new knowledge and skills,” says Moore.

And while the IoD will continue to offer bespoke in-company leadership programmes, it will also expand its offering to cater for those directors who feel it gets a little lonely at the top.

“Many directors need insight consultancy – they don’t know what they don’t know,” says Moore. “It’s the role of a coach to come in and say, ‘let’s figure out what you’re doing and then what you should be doing before prioritising it.’ Our coaches have been
there, done that and managed numerous organisations in the past. And they’re still in touch with it and willing to share their experiences to help you move forward… It gives an opportunity for people to soundboard what’s on their mind.”

Digital future

A pivotal part of the IoD’s new personal development offering will be digital learning. Many new course materials will be online, while delegates who have completed any of the IoD’s courses will be able to access a ‘Virtual Campus’. This online learning hub will enable course attendees to engage, interact and share experiences with fellow delegates. The Virtual Campus will also contain masterclasses and exam revision.

A digital aspect will also permeate through many of the courses, says Moore. “You don’t need to understand how to set up a Facebook page, but you must understand what Facebook is and how
to maximise opportunities through social channels. If you’re going through major digital transformation, you need to understand what that means for you as a business.”

Non-members can also sign up for IoD courses and, should directors struggle to find a course relevant to their needs, the IoD can help too: “We like to think we’re the one-stop-shop in terms of any development you need to have,” says Moore. “If you need something and it’s not clear, or on, give us a call and we’ll be able to point you in the right direction.”

All courses are CPD [continuing professional development] accredited and, Moore explains, the concept of quality lifelong learning is now more crucial than ever. “In a digital age, people innovate quickly and it’s disruptive… It’s important you adapt and embrace this change as an opportunity.”

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Alexander Parker

Alexander Parker

Alexander Parker is a freelance writer and filmmaker.

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