Because working in communications isn’t just a job

Earlier this year I set up my own consultancy and I honestly don’t think I would have had the confidence to do so without first investing in my professional development.

Since joining the CIPR in 2012, I’ve been a huge supporter of continuing professional development (CPD). CPD is more than a box ticking exercise – it’s about keeping skills up to date, learning new ones, and mapping your professional journey. My CPD journey began when I realised I needed to expand my Internal Communications Manager role.

Your opinion isn’t enough

As communications professionals, we’re often tasked with having difficult conversations with senior leaders. Whether it’s persuading the c-suite to make a change, or earning consent from external stakeholders, our ability to influence sets us apart from colleagues. But when trying to win approval from stakeholders, you need to bring more than your opinion to the table.

I have talked about this a lot over the years and it’s thanks to my boss at the time that it continues to be a discussion point – it’s the reason I did the CIPR Internal Communications Diploma. Taking six months to undertake the diploma in my spare time was the most worthwhile investment I have made in my career.

CPD is more than just a course

CPD can be tailored to how you want to learn, grow and develop as a professional and it won’t be one size fits all.

I sit on the CIPR Council because I want to expose myself to conversations broader than internal communications, connect with peers in other fields to gain their experience and advise on work I am doing to ensure that internal communications remains high on every comms professionals agenda.

I don’t Chair CIPR Inside or sit on the CIPR Council for the CPD points – they are an added bonus to my investment in my profession. I don’t have to go on a course or a workshop to get the points I need to be accredited in my profession, I can get them in other ways – ways that suit how I want to develop.

It isn’t about climbing the ladder

I’m still staggered by how many people aren’t members of CIPR or a professional body (see VMA Inside Insight report). Being part of the CIPR and logging my CPD isn’t driven by a desire to climb the ladder and become the Director of Communications. I want to make sure that I’m respected by all my stakeholders. I want to be able to advise the company I work with/for on the right approach based on case studies I have read or people I have spoken to. I want to be accountable to an ethical code of conduct.

Not everyone wants to be the head of a function. Many people I know want to be excellent communication managers or internal communications executives. Regardless of your aim, a robust commitment to professional development and a dedication to continuous learning is a prerequisite to a rewarding career.

My CPD for 2017

This year my CPD focus isn’t about courses and workshops – setting up on your own means the money to do this is limited. But CPD doesn’t cost a penny – I have already achieved 60 points for this year by logging cost-free activities.

I attended the CIPR AGM to learn more about public affairs, I’m reading the books from the recently launched #ICBookBlub from CIPR Inside and I’m reading research reports linked to the theme of the CIPR Inside conference. None of this requires a budget – just my time and as it’s important to me, finding the time isn’t as difficult as it might seem.

Jenni Field

I have worked in Communications for over 10 years and believe that getting it right can have both an emotional and commercial benefit to the business. This isn’t just about being a corporate mouthpiece, it’s about making a difference to the business and how people feel when they come to work. Working with two fellow internal communications professionals, I launched The IC Crowd in September 2012, a community based on Twitter to support internal comms people all over the world. Named as one of IOIC 30 under 30 in 2012 and shortlisted by CIPR Inside for best in-house team, I'm passionate about what I do and the difference it can make to business. I'm also the current chair for CIPR Inside, the internal communications group for the CIPR.

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