The benefits of continuing professional development for business school academics

Reviewing, assessing, and promoting the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of fellow academics, is a productive and important responsibility of business school management and divisional or subject area leaders. In this blog, I discuss CPD from the perspective of the enterprise educator through critical reflection of a number of pertinent higher and enterprise education themes such as leadership, coaching, and mentoring, towards outlining five key considerations for an entrepreneurial business school.

 

Colleagues, curriculum, culture

Within my role as Senior Lecturer in Enterprise at UWS, I have been able to reflect on both the school and university-wide ‘picture’, and consider the remit of the modern academic in a contemporary and industry-focussed educational institution. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) contributes to this, and is extremely important in achieving individual, group, and academic school or faculty goals.

Progress in this has been evidenced through well-known methods, such as coaching, mentoring, training, and peer observation, to name a few. The nature of this developmental change also comes in many forms as per the given academic post. However, CPD flourishes, as I put it, through realising critical factors such as: retaining productive and positive colleagues, prioritising an engaging curriculum through team-based modules and programmes, and sustaining an enterprising culture which pools and shares good practice within regular forums.

 

The Enterprise Educator & CPD

Within my own day-to-day work, CPD through enterprising activities allows for heightened engagement with various pedagogies, platforms, and people both within and outwith the business school.

The demands of enterprise and entrepreneurship education, which focus heavily on skills development and/or new venture creation, lead towards pragmatic forms of module delivery, programmes and events which promote entrepreneurialism, and student-centric or group-based exercises.

Concerning the growing team of enterprise academics and business professionals within UWS in recent years, this has led to the increased promotion of enterprise and entrepreneurship education, and a determined, enterprising culture. Examples of which lie in our on-campus and online business incubation service for students, staff, and recent alumni; our suite of enterprise modules at undergraduate and postgraduate levels; the new student-led ‘Business Society’, for future managers, leaders, and entrepreneurs; and, our guest speaker series discussing themes and topics related to enterprise and entrepreneurialism.

The embedding of CPD activities and learning opportunities, implemented and championed by senior members of our Enterprise Team, has contributed to these recent successes.

Recent CPD activities include the mentoring of new colleagues in module development and enterprise teaching methods, understanding core systems and processes which support what we do, encouraging digital upskilling and media communications for module content and enterprise events, and coaching new staff in leading projects which both enhance the student experience and continue our links with industry.

These practices mirror the many types of expected activity, to be evidenced in a member’s annual Certified Management & Business Educator (CMBE) reflection and recognition record. Considering the CMBE scheme for example, and in meeting the requirements for recognition, many aspects of business school teaching and university activities that are addressed further highlight and allude to the typical roles and responsibilities of that of a contemporary, enterprise educator such as leading, developing, and engaging with others. Typical CPD frameworks, and questions posed by the CMBE scheme itself, encourage realistic goal setting from enterprise educators towards developing key and much-needed enterprising, leadership, management, and problem solving skills.

 

Developing the entrepreneurial business school

Opportunity, openness, and institutional pragmatism, about how CPD can be practically embedded in what we do within our academic and support roles, from within business schools, is therefore fundamental in realising ambitions and goals.

In developing an entrepreneurial business school, through CPD, several considerations are outlined. These considerations, which have been successfully implemented within my own institution, should practically span across teaching, research, management, school leadership, and external engagement activities in supporting academic colleagues and contribute to an enterprising culture within and surrounding the classroom.

 

  • Progressing academic teamsWhich teams and groups of academics have seen notable and consistent success within their respective modules and programmes, through student feedback, engagement metrics, etc.? It is possible that this success could continue within research, enterprise, and external engagement activity, in collaboration with other university departments such as knowledge transfer or international partnerships.
  • Working ‘smarter’ What are the distinct subject interests of academics within your business school? Workloads and duties, per term, can be closely reviewed to balance teaching and administrative commitments and focus key areas of expertise and experience towards specific, beneficial, and income generating business school interests. These include increased research seminar and conference attendance, industry visits and consultancy, and resourcing ‘off peak’ course deliveries such as international summer school or weekend executive-level programmes.
  • Nurturing and retaining enterprising talent – As PhD students and teaching associates develop within your institution: What additional contributions can they make to the school post certification or qualification? Are their voices and perspectives being regularly heard? What can be done to ensure that these talents are retained? 
  • Success storiesHow does your business school communicate success stories and reflect back on career paths? For the benefit of early career academics and researchers, the telling of these stories motivate emerging talent within divisions and can instigate similar, productive trajectories and enterprising ideas.
  • Ongoing mentoring & coaching To what extent is there a positive and obvious culture of collegiality? Channelling success stories into action, through distinct and regular mentoring meetings and coaching opportunities by subject area or research theme, is a feature which is mutually beneficial to the mentor and mentee.

 

 So, reflecting on this blog article and associated themes of leadership, coaching, and mentoring for enterprise: What ideas or strategies could you implement to increase the promotion of CPD amongst colleagues within your business school? Additionally, what have you already introduced, and to what extent has this been successful in improving teaching, research, and external engagement or income generation activities?

 

Dr Robert Crammond CMBE is Senior Lecturer of Enterprise at University of the West of Scotland.