Vicki and I were talking recently about how much time and money we invest in professional development (a lot!). That’s one reason why we feel so strongly about offering affordable learning opportunities through SPS (Vicki is one of the SPS faculty members). I’m thrilled to present Vicki’s guest post about why intercultural professional development is good for business and the soul.
I’ve been in the intercultural field for almost ten years now, and over that time I’ve been privileged to meet many people who engage in similar work. I can’t help but notice that we tend to have certain traits in common such as curiosity, a love of learning, empathy, complex communication skills, and more.
When we think about why professional development is important, the answer may seem obvious to intercultural practitioners. But as I sat down to prepare a number of learning events that will take place over the next two months, I gave some serious thought to that question.
Why does professional development matter so much to us?
When I reflected on this, two answers came to my mind. The first is the more practical. Development and continued learning is good for business. Why? Because even if they don’t consciously know it, our clients, students, and customers expect us to be on the cutting edge of what’s happening in our field.
They don’t have time, for example, to be reading the latest blogs on what’s happening in the offshoring world. That’s why they hire me, because I do read those blogs and I can direct them toward resources they otherwise might never have heard of. Our professional development gives our clients confidence that we are providing them with solutions beyond their expertise, and they rely on us to stay current. What’s more, professional learning introduces us to fresh approaches that we can pass on to clients, new trends that help them stay at the forefront of global business or academia.
But my second answer to the question of why professional development matters is a personal one – it’s good for the soul. The intercultural field is an exciting one, always changing and filled with fun opportunities. What happens, however, when you’ve been in the field for a number of years, delivering the same training programs to similar clients?
Without changing sources of inspiration, even us happy intercultural trainers could become stagnant or complacent. Learning and development is like fresh water that flows into a still pond; it stirs things up and sparks our imagination. Our curiosity is ignited and we become more creative with designing our training programs, inspiring our students, or coaching executives. When we push our own comfort zone, we also model for our clients what we ask of them: to be agile with change and even to seek it out.
For me, professional development is a privilege and an honor. Because I am fortunate enough to have my basic needs met, I can look to the next horizon of learning. As a result, I greatly enjoy creating these opportunities as well as participating in them as a student.
I play electric guitar as a hobby and my teacher is constantly encouraging me to experiment, create, and improvise with my music. He often asks me to play songs with our performance group that I’ve never played before, just dive in and try. Intercultural work is no different.
If we give ourselves the opportunity, we can feel free to invent new models, visuals, content, and ways of getting through to our clients. Professional learning gives us the tools on which to paint our canvas.
Why is professional development important to you? I look forward to our continued dialogue.
Vicki Flier Hudson is Chief Collaboration Officer for Highroad Global Services, Inc. and helps global organizations turn cross-cultural challenges into productive teamwork. She’s teaching a new workshop for SPS about the opportunities and rewards for interculturalists in the offshore sector. Click here to learn more and take advantage of the Early Bird discount (ends Feb. 28).