Dupe Akinsiun, is a seasoned HR professional with extensive years of practice that cuts across Management Consulting, Financial Services, Pharmaceuticals, FMCG and career-building across West & Southern Africa. She is a certified professional with leading international HR associations like SHRM, HRCI, HRMA.
She currently works as a Leadership Capability Development Expert with a leading multinational FMCG company with presence in over 20 countries.
This is a summary of Dupe’s insights on building the career of your dreams and tackling career challenges.
Having a job is different from building a career. A career is a combination of jobs, skills, experiences, relationships, and qualifications you gather over an extended period of time to add some sort of value. This can be through entrepreneurship or employment.
When it comes to career building, I advise professionals to think long term. Thinking long term gives you the chance to look beyond current limitations. Focusing on a job instead can restrict your thinking and make you myopic.
The career you decide you want to have will influence the kind of jobs you seek. Building the career of your dreams starts with knowing what you want. While it might sound easy, it can be difficult to articulate what you want.
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Here are some tips for building the career of your dreams:
1. Look within
Spend some time to identify what you have to offer. We need to learn to be able to reflect without paying attention to the noises or distractions that come from what people think we should be doing or not doing.
To help with your reflection, ask yourself questions like:
What are my strengths and skills?
Are there problems I can solve?
Which of these problems do I feel inclined to solve based on the skills, education, relationships or resources I have at my disposal?
2. Look without
Spend some time with a professional who can guide you. Some people find reflection challenging and are unable to do it effectively. These people may need to get help either from a coach or a more senior professional who can help them light the path.
3. Define your career challenges
There is no blanket solution to all career challenges so you need to find out what your challenge is.
I have seen people wrongly define their problems and as a result, they do not get the desired solution. The first step to solving any challenge is defining the problem.
Find those who have the same career struggles as you, but are successful. This will be a lot easier if you are actively connecting with your network. Seek advice and make necessary adjustments.
Keep reviewing and iterating the solutions until you get on the right path
4. Beware of Imitation
Learn from people, but remember to adapt their recommendations to your reality. This is because you are unique, the circumstances surrounding their own issues may slightly differ from yours and so may not make their recommendations 100% applicable.
The average cost of my wigs or weaves is about 150k (~$400). My 9 -5 pays about 80k (~$210) a month. So I guess I spend like two-months salary on hair.
I’m not ashamed of it. It’s not like I buy weaves all the time. I can still afford to put food on my table and pay my rent thanks to my business.
My rent is expensive
The first year I moved out to live on my own, I had a flatmate. She left the country the year after, and I got stuck paying the full rent. I paid it in hopes of getting another flatmate, but I’ve had no luck yet.
I’d say the bulk of my money goes to rent. I earn 300k ($810) a month and my rent is 1.2 million (~$3,260) a year. This means 100k (~$270) of my monthly income goes to saving for my rent.
I really like my apartment and have no plans to move out. So for now, I have to keep paying the rent.
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I don’t have a job so my ‘income’ comes from an allowance from my parents which usually adds up to about 50k (~$135) monthly. I spend about 15k (~$40) on data every month. So data costs make up most of my expenses.
Molped sanitary pad is a product from Hayat Kimya Limited (manufacturers of Molfix diapers), and is a skin-friendly, ultra-soft, sanitary pad, designed to make young girls feel as comfortable, soft, and secure as they feel beside their best friends.
Molped’s breathable layer keeps young women fresh, and it’s skin-friendly, cottony soft layer does not cause irritation. Molped sanitary pad is every girl’s best friend, helping them be more confident, and supporting them through their periods.
Molped has partnered with She Leads Africa to highlight the beauty and importance of valuable female connections.
About Chidinma Ekile
Chidinma Ekile is a Nigerian singer and songwriter, popularly known by her stage name Chidinma. She worked as a business promoter in Lagos, prior to auditioning for the third season of Project Fame West Africa, in which she emerged as the winner in 2010.
Following the release of the music video for her “Emi Ni Baller” single, she became the first female musician to peak at number 1 on the MTV Base Official Naija Top 10 chart. In 2011, she released her first solo single “Jankoliko” featuring Sound Sultan. Chidinma, her self-titled debut studio album, was released through the music platform Spinlet. It was supported by the singles “Jankoliko”, “Carry You Go”, “Kedike” and “Run Dia Mouth”. Chidinma won the “Best Female West African Act” category at the 2012 Kora Awards
Considered one of the most loved and respected African female artistes, Chidinma is verified across ALL social media platforms.
A responsible, classy and elegant woman, devoid of scandals, Chidinma has over the years comported herself in a ladylike manner, evolving from the girl next door to becoming a role model and mentor for several young girls across Africa. Chidinma recently signed an endorsement deal with the premium sanitary towel line, Molped, where she features in all Molped’sTV and radio commercials as the Face of the brand in Nigeria. She released a critically acclaimed joint EP with Africa’s foremost musician, Flavor.
Chidinma is the founder of Nma Care Foundation, a non-governmental organization set up to cater to visually impaired children.
Friendship to me, means identifying the traits and characteristics you favour in people. It means that you accept them for who they are, recognize their flaws and help them improve on themselves.
It also means being there for them as practically as you can.
What advice or tips do you have for women trying to build a professional relationship with mentors?
While learning from your mentor, it’s important that you make sure you never take their time, access and opportunities for granted. You should recognize and respect their boundaries.
Also, always offer value, because a person’s gifts will make way for them.
What skills or character traits have been most helpful to you in building your career?
I definitely think it is treating the music business as just what it is; which is a business, something akin to a 9 to 5. I am deliberate about my actions, my team and I plan ahead. We also don’t compromise on our standards or the quality of relationships we cultivate.
What advice do you have for women trying to build a career in the music industry?
As much as I am still learning, I will humbly state that any woman willing to build a career in the entertainment industry, must be ready to work twice as hard as the guys. Make sure you pay more attention to details and cultivate quality relationships.
Do you think it is important to have a mentor as a young woman trying to grow her career?
Yes. However, I think that it is important that any woman takes very careful time to evaluate the person she is submitting herself to as a mentee. This is important, in order not to have a misrepresented view of the industry they are working in, and also not be taken undue advantage of.
Since you are the Brand Ambassador of MOLPED, in what ways does the brand remind you about friends/friendship?
Ok I need to actually share this with the world☺. Let’s start with how the features of the product remind me of friendship. It’s not just soft, but cottony soft with no nylon and wide wings and because of these features, it causes no irritation or leakage.
Those are definitely qualities that I expect of a friend. For them to be soft and comforting, with us having minimal to no friction or fights. I know we might fight at times though, but not all the time you know, and of course she always keeps my business my business.
In addition, the brand promotes friendship and girls being there for each other, and drawing inspiration from each other at all times.
Do you have any words of advice for our Motherland Moguls, trying to be successful like you?
Please ensure you are bringing value to the table. Develop your craft, hone it and guard it like a mother protects her baby.
Global leaders from the public sector, private sector, civil society and academia met this week in Davos, Switzerland for the 50th Anniversary of the World Economic Forum. The theme this year was “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World”.
Africa.com has curated hundreds of keynote speeches, panel discussions, focused spotlight talks, exhibits, and sideline events to give Motherland Moguls the scoop on what happened.
1. A Zambian teen is changing the women’s health game
Natasha Mwansa, a Zambian teen got the world’s attention when she talked about her work in Africa. The 18-year old runs her own foundation and is the most compelling advocate and activist for girls and women’s reproductive rights.
She has used her voice to address the underfunding of maternal health and forced marriages of young girls. Mwansa explained that young people want more than to simply speak at conferences or become spokespersons for meaningful causes: they want to become partners in political change.
Intergenerational partnerships are necessary to help translate youth mobilization into political change.
For the world’s most vulnerable, climate change is not a distant existential threat: it is killing people right now. Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, President of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad, gave a powerful reality check.
‘In my region, people are dying because of climate change’
Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim at WEF Davos
In the video below, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim explains what it’s like to live in a place where the effects of climate change are #realaf.
3. The Motsepe Foundation is supporting Social Entrepreneurship
Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe, the newly elected Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town, hosted several events showcasing the success of her work through the Motsepe Foundation.
4. This woman is leading education reform with Ethiopia’s Sesame Street
Originally a primary school teacher in Addis Ababa, Bruktawit Tigabu Tadesse developed the Whiz Kids Workshop, a multimedia enterprise that makes shows like “Tsehai Loves Learning”, the first educational pre-school TV show in Ethiopia.
Bruktawit founded the company in 2015 with her husband while looking to make high-quality education accessible to children on a mass scale. Working from their living room, they used sock puppets, computer graphics, and their own voices to produce Tsehai Loves Learning.
The most important take away from WEF Davos is that we all need to play our part to create a peaceful and sustainable world – no matter how small.
How do you get that schmoney and manage difficult clients without losing your mind?
Apply some Emotional Intelligence!
Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the ability to understand other people’s emotions, empathize with them and respond to them appropriately.
Here are 3 tips to help you manage tough clients using Emotional Intelligence:
1. Be self-aware
The first step to empathizing with your difficult clients is evaluating yourself.
Think about how you communicate with your clients – are you showing them that you care? If you are a manager or business owner, is your company encouraging a culture of empathy for clients?
2. Listen Intelligently
Just like your personal relationships, listening is an important part of maintaining positive client relationships.
Sometimes, clients are difficult because they don’t feel heard. Consider what your clients might want from you, even if they haven’t expressed it. Listen actively by noting pain points, asking follow up questions and keeping the lines of communication open.
3. Understand your clients’ personalities
Clients are people too. When you manage people, it’s important to understand their temperaments.
Cholerics tend to be logical and use focus on facts. Stay proactive and result-oriented with choleric clients. Melancholics pay attention close to details. You must your processes for efficiency with them.
Phlegmatics can be indecisive. Be patient and helping them understand the information they need to make a decision. Sanguines tend to be carefree and impulsive, so you might consider keeping communication informal to keep their attention.
SheaMoisture is the enduring and beautiful legacy of Sofi Tucker. Widowed with five children at 19, Grandma Sofi supported her family by selling handcrafted shea butter soaps and other creations in the village market in Sierra Leone.
Sofi became known as a healer who shared the power of shea and African black soap with families throughout the countryside.
She handed down her recipes to grandson Richelieu Dennis, who founded SheaMoisture and incorporated her wisdom into the brand’s hair and skin care innovations.
SheaMoisture products and collections are formulated with natural, certified organic and fair trade ingredients, with the shea butter ethically-sourced from 15 co-ops in Northern Ghana as part of the company’s purpose-driven Community Commerce business model
SheaMoisture has partnered with She Leads Africa to support and showcase Nigerian women who support their communities.
About Cynthia Asije
Cynthia Asije is the CEO and founder of Adire Lounge and holds a bachelors degree in Business Administration. She is a multi-award winning textile designer at Adire lounge, a hand-dyed textile company that trains women in rural communities and creates job opportunities for them.
She has a Certificate in Entrepreneurship from Enterprise Development Centre Lagos, and a Non-Profit Leadership certificate from Lagos Business School. Cynthia was on the Ynaija Power list 2018 for Fashion and Style and 100 Africa’s Next Startup by IFC-World Bank Group 2018.
Cynthia founded Adire Lounge because she is passionate about eradicating extreme poverty using capacity development and entrepreneurship by infusing old cultural practices and technology.
One woman at a time, Cynthia is working to eradicate poverty in her community with her brand.
I started Adire Lounge as a hand-dyed textile company that creates unique designs on non-conventional fabrics like chiffon, T-shirts, scarves and silk. I also train rural women, widows and out of school youths in adire making.
The vision behind Adire Lounge is to preserve our rich cultural heritage and traditions, while also closing the unemployment gap and creating job opportunities for women and youth in my community.
I truly believe that Adire lounge is making a difference in my community and country as a whole.
What was your motivation?
I wanted to build a brand that not only made profit, but helped my immediate community. Starting Adire Lounge was a way for me to preserve our beautiful culture while helping young people like me, earn a sustainable income and help their families too.
Most of the women in my community are of low social and economic status so they live below the poverty line and it can be quite difficult for them to provide basic necessities for their families. With my brand, I have been able to keep some of them on a salary which has helped them provide food, education and health care for their families.
What makes your brand stand out?
We have been able to build a premium textile brand that creates unique hand-dyed prints on non-conventional fabrics like chiffon, silk, T-shirts and scarves etc. We have also made custom prints for fashion designers and corporate organizations.
Our pieces have been used by other brands to make products like footwear, pillows and other products. We also collaborate with different brands to make new products.
Also, our approach to business which follows a community commerce model has helped us stand out as a brand that makes a significant contribution to our community.
Can you tell us 1 to 3 things you struggled with as a business owner and how you overcame them?
One of the things I struggled with was having access to enough finance when I started out. To combat this, I used the bootstrap method to finance my business.
Another issue I had was access to the market. It was a relatively new idea, so we needed to do a lot of marketing to increase our brand awareness. To combat the problem, we utilized social media marketing and influencer marketing to target our clients.
How have you managed to stay above the noise in this industry?
It can be quite distracting working in an industry that has a lot of competition such as the fashion industry but I have stayed above the noise in the industry by focusing on my “why.”
Focusing on why I stared Adire Lounge keeps me grounded and focused.
What impact have you made on your community since starting this business?
Most of the women in my community are of low social and economic status and they can’t afford to provide basic necessities for themselves and their families. So since starting my business, I have been able to help them gain economic independence by providing them with jobs. With the income they earn from these jobs, they are able to provide good food, health care and education for their families.
I believe this will cause a ripple effect and a larger impact in society as they will be able to achieve financial freedom for them and their families, thereby reducing poverty.
What is your major goal for 2019, and what have you done so far to achieve it?
Our goal for 2019 was to have an empowerment centre. So far, we have gotten the space from a community in Lagos, and construction work has started on the space we got.
Can you share 3 interesting facts about yourself?
I am creative, amazing and very resilient.
What is your fave skin, hair or self-care routine?
My favorite self-care routine is to meditate and I have a dedicated spa date.
How do you feel about this opportunity to promote your brand with SLA sponsored by SheaMoisture.
I am so excited about this opportunity to showcase my brand on the SLA platforms, sponsored by SheaMoisture because Adire Lounge will be able to leverage the network and meet more of our target audience.
Mention one word that should come to people’s minds when they think about your product/ services?
When people think of my brand, I want them to think of itas a premium hand-dyed textile fabrics company, made in Nigeria.
You can find SheaMoisture products at Youtopia Beauty stores nationwide and on Jumia.
She Leads Africa is a digital media and events company that believes in the power of young African women to build amazing careers and businesses, serve as community leaders and influencers, and eventually take over the world. Our organization has been featured on CNN, Black Enterprise, Forbes and CNBC Africa.
We’ve worked with brands including Dark & Lovely, Uber, Cointreau, Samsung, and Facebook.
Our #MotherlandMoguls, as we affectionately call them, are the reason we exist. Our mission is to provide them with inspiring, educational events and content to help them live their best lives.
We’re looking for a product manager to help drive product planning and execution throughout the product development lifecycle, from gathering product and customer requirements to product introduction.
Reporting Structure: The Product Manager will report directly to an SLA co-founder.
The Product Manager will be responsible for improving all aspects of SLA’s end-to-end community journey and drive product decisions to meet business objectives.
Design and manage product roadmaps, ensuring timely completion of deliverables along the entire product lifecycle: from concept through production, from sustaining improvements to value engineering.
Generate detailed documentation (including market/product requirement documents), communicate these requirements to the appropriate teams, and ensure timely cross-functional execution.
Manage an outsourced development firm and determine product priorities and resource allocation.
Facilitate the design of creative and innovative solutions that encompass the entire customer journey and actively question solutions to ensure alignment with product/company vision.
Determine the best metrics for product success. Combine intuition with data analysis to continually drive product improvement.
Provide input into product pricing, go-to-market, development budgets, and sales forecasts.
Cultivate a deep understanding of our customers throughout their lifecycle, and advocate for solutions based on their needs and pain points.
Monitor and report on sales and customer satisfaction metrics and offer data-driven insights about what new products or product lines will have the greatest impact for our customers and business.
We are looking for someone who:
Has 3+ years of relevant product management experience.
Has a strong project management background, with demonstrated ability to execute on tight deadlines.
Has recorded huge success working in a startup environment where you have taken ideas from conception to execution.
Has the ability to juggle multiple priorities.
Has exceptional communication skills, and demonstrated ability to build high-trust relationships.
Has an engineering or design background; experience bringing a physical product to market required.
Has experience guiding cross-functional teams in a highly iterative, rapidly evolving agile environment.
Has excellent analytical skills with demonstrated experience turning data into actionable insights.
Has experience with A/B testing, UX/UI principles and customer research techniques.
Has a can-do attitude and is flexible enough to take on any task we throw at them
Is passionate, hungry and eager to build SLA into a world-class institution
Has high professional and ethical standards i.e. understands that there’s no such thing as African time – you’re just late
Is comfortable taking and giving feedback
Has a good sense of humor – because we’ll be working hard so we better keep each other entertained
Is comfortable working in a startup environment where we’re making the rules up as we go along.
Ultimately we’re looking for someone who wants to be part of something great. Someone who wants to help us create one of the best African companies in the world.
CareerLife Nigeria was conceived out of the passion to help solve the issue of un-employability among graduates.
SLA contributor, Yewande Jinadu who is also the founder of CareerLife Nigeria is someone who had earlier struggled with interviews which she dreaded so much until she decided to pursue Talent Acquisition as a career path and learned how it felt to be at the other side of the table.
The pilot edition of the Employability Fitness Program(EFP) held on the 13th July 2019 was aimed at helping jobseekers overcome interview phobia by putting them in an interview with HR Professionals and Subject Matter Experts so that the feedback they would get would be personalized to their unique need and deficiency.
The following steps will help you deal with Interview phobia:
1. Understand yourself
Overcoming phobia has a lot to do with you! Understand your shortcomings and work on it.
Being self-aware is much more than knowing your weakness. It’s also about knowing your strengths accurately.
If you know why the organization should hire you, you would definitely do better. When you saw the job description, you looked through and were convinced this job was for you.
All that is left is to prepare yourself ahead and establish why you should be given the job. Preparation is VERY IMPORTANT!
2. Go in with the mindset of “Why wouldn’t they hire me”
It’s only if you have lied in your application that you would be scared. When you go with a convinced mindset, you are one step closer to avoiding fear.
Most job seekers go into an interview with an uncertain mind so they cower at any slight intimidation.
3. Communicate your value to your employer
An interview isn’t all about you and what you stand to gain if employed.
Employers are hunting for value in talents and if you’re not able to portray that during the interview, you would most likely get a rejection email.
So think through your value and ensure you communicate it clearly.
4. Always have transferable skills
Most fresh graduates believe they have nothing to offer just because they don’t have a long list of experience to show forth which is WRONG.
Transferable skills are mostly soft skills and competencies that are important for the role you are applying to. You may have led a team while in school or provided a solution to a big problem during your NYSC.
Don’t despise those ‘little’ experiences because they can be very relevant in your new role.
5. Don’t go into an interview feeling defeated
What’s the worst that could happen after an interview? You get a NO! You move on…
I realized that when you put your whole life into something and have packed yourself with so much fear, the interview becomes a do or die affair.
This increases the likelihood of you messing up. I’m not saying you shouldn’t prepare well and take it seriously but don’t spoil it by putting too much pressure on yourself.
I wish you the best in your career! If you would like to join the free 3 months post-coaching session, visit CareerLife Nigeria.
Join our FREE Facebook Live on August 22nd to learn how to drive social change through your business/ Career. Click here to sign up.
iDare.NotDread is a social Enterprise promoting innovation, creativity, and enterprise in Nigeria.
Our focus is primarily to build women communities and empower them with creative and innovative skills for business growth.
What’s one business tip you wish most business owners knew and could wield to their advantage?
Network. Meet people.
That money you want is in someone’s account. That unspoken challenge can be solved by someone. Attend workshops, events, and meet people. Most people don’t bite.
How can entrepreneurs begin to understand the power of conducting market validation, and collaboration with other SMEs?
I believe in collaboration. This is why I try to build communities. We started the Abuja food community in May, and its amazing to see how much collaboration has happened in a group full of women.
Yet, we probably thought women prefer to fight. No. The moment businesses understand that collaboration first means ‘here is what I can give you’, before ‘give me what I want’, they will lead better businesses.
With a lot of fake business coaches around, what makes your brand different?
We didn’t just arrive. We’ve been here a while. In 2013 we started with creating a platform for entrepreneurs to share their stories and inspire others.
Over time, we realized stories weren’t enough. Capacities needed to be built.
So we went all in to try to understand the real needs of the entrepreneurs we wished to serve, and since 2016, we started contributing to conversations around digital technology and creating a good impact in the digital space.
Since then, our efforts have birthed super brands.
In the past 3 years we have successfully trained 4,000 entrepreneurs on digital strategies as well as provided opportunities for business visibility.
Many thanks to the opportunity Google granted us through the Digital Skills for Africa programme and a host of other partners who have trusted us to work with them.
Why should SMEs understand their target markets before making an entrance into the market?
Because if we don’t, we would be hitting our heads on rocks. Hard rocks.
You can’t sell to everyone, and this is why research is key to identifying who your market is.
We are currently on our 3rd cohort and it’s been amazing!!! Every 2 months we launch a new set of authors who are super proud of their achievements. It feels great to empower people to create wealth with their knowledge.
We are looking to expand the community beyond eBooks to help more women create diverse digital products and generate more income.
How does the “Do It Afraid” catchphrase relate to entrepreneurs who don’t like taking risks?
We all have fear in us. It’s an emotion. I am still learning to tame my fears. And we all should. The best way to go about it is to go ahead and do that very thing you fear.
I have coached a number of businesses and one of the areas I tend to focus on is to help them fight those limitations – the little voices and beliefs that make them feel less of themselves and limited.
It’s important we act despite fear. Accept your fears but act.
What’s the worst that could happen? Failure? Then show me one person who NEVER failed.
As a boss, learning is your superpower. You don’t know what you don’t know, but there is now a multitude of ways to find out.
After completing my Marketing & Spanish degree at London Metropolitan University, I vowed that I was never going to study again.
Not because I didn’t enjoy my course or my studying experience – I actually really loved my uni days and not just because of the socializing! However, I was eager to get into the world of work and at the time thought that what I had studied was all I needed to launch and sustain me in my career.
However, over time, I have developed a totally different perspective on education and studying and realise that in order to grow it is imperative to continue learning throughout your life.
Working in the digital field as I do is exciting. Technological advances and changes in consumer behaviour ensure that it’s an industry that is ever evolving and in order to keep up and remain an authority in my field.
Just recently, I completed a Fintech course with Oxford University. I had zero knowledge of financial markets but understood that it’s an area that is being disrupted by technology particularly in Africa.
It was important that I improved my knowledge in this area. As a result, I am now part of a group of alumni working on a great project– so two wins – knowledge of a new field and a potential business opportunity!
But it’s more than just keeping abreast of your industry, it’s equally important to learn new things in general, and to stay curious.
In order to grow and live a fulfilled life, it’s important to expand past your comfort zone, increase your skills and knowledge and deepen your understanding and perceptions around areas that you may not often be exposed to.
Haven struggled with weight issues for most of my life, I challenged myself to complete a fitness qualification with YMCA in a bid to better understand health and fitness and to spur on my weight loss.
In fact, I am now a fully qualified Group ETM (Exercise to Music) instructor and whilst I don’t teach classes I definitely have a different approach to my health and have incorporated new elements into my daily lifestyle to maintain a certain level of fitness.
Encouraging yourself to try new and different experiences, setting yourself challenges, not necessarily knowing how to get there but knowing your why which propels you along your path of achievement.
My Top 5 Reasons for continued learning
It gives you a sense of accomplishment and pride and helps build self-confidence. Psychologists say that learning makes us happier!
It gives you access to new and different opportunities. My network has expanded exponentially – the number of new friends I’ve made and the projects I’ve been able to work on with people I’ve met through learning has been incredible
It fuels creativity. You can learn something in a seemingly un-related area which can trigger an idea in another.
It fuel change
It fuels productivity. Developing a new skill influences the way you do things day to day and can make doing things quicker and easier, saving time, energy and stress.
Having lived and worked in the UK my whole life, I have no experience of living in another country let alone starting a business in one.
But my aptitude for learning, whether it’s reading, taking courses or training is what’s prepping me on this journey and helped me one step at a time to steadily achieve my dream.
I like to believe that learning is our superpower. You don’t know what you don’t know, but there is now a multitude of ways to find out.
I reckon it’s definitely time to redefine the phrase CPD from Continued Professional Development to Continue Pushing for your Dreams.