Thursday, 13 February 2014

Why Education is Important

As a consultant, I do not have an official career path, nor an HR department to provide a yearly development plan.  I have to make my own development plan and think about where my career will take me in the future.  To obtain a career path, it is down to me, what I do and how I do it. 

As a consultant, any time and money spent on education and qualifications, comes out of my time and my money, sometimes at the additional "cost" of not being able to work for a client, earning my daily rate.  The qualifications are quite expensive, often in excess of £1000.  In addition, I do not get given any paid time by my clients to study, as I would if I was employed.

I am a big believer in "Knowledge is Power" and continue to take an exam each year.  Education gives a person options, whether it is their school, university or professional exams, the qualification gives an increase in foundation knowledge that can be applied in the workplace.  This does not remove the fact that experience counts for a great deal, but the education means that people can make informed decisions and have the backing of industry standards and guidelines.

In my days as a developer, I was astounded by the way my teams often did not have any official education.  The solutions to the business were very narrow minded and often resulted in a convoluted solution.  My approach, as a consultant, was to provide at least three solutions to a problem, with the depth of knowledge to recommend a single option to resolve the problem.  With committing to study for the exams, a developer was able to learn different techniques and practices to overcome a variety of issues, learning as they studied.  Over the years that I was a development consultant, I passed 10 specific exams within my area of knowledge.

One corporation that I worked with had a team of developers, who were good at their job, but did not possess a depth of knowledge.  I approached management for additional budget and persuaded them to create an education track for each developer.  The result was amazing.  Each developer took the various exams and became a qualified developer and was able to provide faster solutions to the back log of development requirements, with a more standardized approach and confidence in their ability.  I introduced an ethos of providing three solutions to each problem, explaining the solutions to the team for comments and then providing an explanation of the solution and the reasons for selecting the chosen approach.  The work throughput of the team increased dramatically.

I have said before, that "Education, Education, Education" is a mantra that my Father instilled in me from a very young age.  To date, I still take an exam every year, trying to better myself, opening additional doors and increasing my depth of knowledge.

My next exam will be my third PMI exam, with which I will hopefully become a Certified Agile Professional.

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