Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is the process of lifelong learning, developing you and your competence over your career. Evidence of CPD is required by every professional body, including the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) in our mission to transform the world to sustainability.

Every quarter, a sample of the IEMA membership are asked to provide their CPD for evaluation by an assessor like me. If your submission meets the criteria IEMA set - creating some goals, listing the activities to support those goals with some reflection on how worthwhile your activities were, your submission is approved. If you use the ‘MyCareerPath’ system, be aware that goals are ‘plans’ and activities are ‘evidence’.

However, I’ve assessed dozens of CPD submissions over the last 2 years and I’ve noticed there are 3 common things members do which means we can’t accept them.

Usually, we return the submission to the member and explain why it didn’t pass with a deadline to resubmit, but this process is slow and it’s better to get it right, first time.

So what are these mistakes and how can you avoid from falling into them yourself?

1. No Goals or Plans

20-30% of all my submissions have had no goals at all. They don’t have to be ambitious and you don’t need to provide dozens.

2-4 goals is the optimal quantity and they can be as simple or complex as you like:

  • Reading ‘Transform’ magazine each month;
  • Upgrading your membership;
  • Learning a new skill;
  • Growing your knowledge;
  • Attending events or exhibitions;
  • Achieving a promotion; or
  • Acquiring a qualification.

You can be as imaginative or humble as you like, but we need to see a series of goals to accept your submission.

2. Insufficient Activities or Evidence

CPD is a wide ranging term and can cover almost any activity, not just training courses. You could record:

  • Reading articles or books;
  • Attending events or webinars;
  • Practical experiences;
  • Events and exhibitions;
  • Site visits and audits;
  • Work experience and shadowing;
  • Coaching and mentoring;
  • Apprenticeships and training; and
  • Investigations and enquiries.

In short, if it helped to develop you as a professional, it counts as CPD. Be brave and record a wide range of diverse activities, we want to see you have sought out and taken opportunities when they’ve arisen.

3. No Reflection

I’d estimate 10-20% of submissions fall into this trap – here we want to know about how the activities you completed contributed (or didn’t contribute, in some cases) towards your goals. You could think of the reflection as:

What activities were worthwhile? Why?

  • How have they contributed, or not, towards completing your goals?
  • How are you going to change your activities next year?
  • If you achieved a goal, which activity supported you the most?

The reflection is important to us as it shows you being inquisitive and insightful on your own development, your successes and your mistakes – but ultimately what you’ve learnt.

We are here to help you succeed and flourish in your careers and a strong, ongoing record of CPD is a crucial part of this.

I want to thank all the members who have submitted their CPD in the last two years, it’s been a privilege to see first-hand the successes you are all enjoying in transforming the world to sustainability. Hopefully, by following these few simple lessons, we can further support you to make the CPD process easier and more valuable.


David DowsonThe views I express here are my own and not my employers

Please note: the views expressed in this blog are those of the individual contributing member, and are not necessarily representative of  the views of IEMA or any professional institutions with which IEMA is associated



About the Author

Dave Dowson is a Chartered Environmentalist, Full Member of IEMA and currently Head of Environment for Interserve, where he leads the development of the company’s Environmental Management System and environmental training programme. Dave has 10 years’ experience in environmental management and an MSc in Zoology. He has been an active IEMA member since 2010 and is now an IEMA mentor and CPD Assessor.