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R. L. Polk & Co.’s Ask the Industry Explores the Value of Professional Development

Opportunities today for professional development abound — books by professional gurus, self-guided CD-ROM’s, industry seminars, in-house training. How important is professional development to you? Does your company put a premium on it, or are you on your own when it comes to expanding your horizons? We talked to two aftermarket executives with two very different perspectives on the matter.

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AKRON, OHIO — Opportunities today for professional development abound — books by professional gurus, self-guided CD-ROM’s, industry seminars, in-house training. How important is professional development to you? Does your company put a premium on it, or are you on your own when it comes to expanding your horizons? We talked to two aftermarket executives with two very different perspectives on the matter. Read on to learn more.

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Steve Boguski, President, Newbury Partners:

I like to, at least once a year, attend some kind of education seminar outside of the industry. I’ve gone a few times to The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania for its Executive Education program. What I think is most important about it is to try and learn what is going on in other industries so we can try to apply it to the automotive industry. Even during my time in manufacturing, I’ve always thought it was an important thing.

You can learn a ton at events like AAPEX and GAAS, but it’s also important to find those outside ideas that haven’t been done. It’s even more important to take time away from your daily responsibilities to think about other things. For example, GAAS is a day and a half where you are not writing emails and returning phone calls, which gives you a chance to think about other things. People have so little time to do that today. To me, that’s really the value of executive education — trying to learn new ideas and use these types of events as an environment to strategize.

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Mike Hartney, Director of Sales, Drivetrain Products, LuK Automotive Systems:

Other than industry affiliated group-sponsored seminars (AAIA, ACC) that I am able to attend, I regret to say that is about it for me when it comes to professional development.

It is a combination of time constraints and what I feel is worth my time expenditure to attend the event based on my perception, or feedback from people who have attended the same/similar seminar in the past.

We do have Schaeffler Group (parent company of LuK,INA and FAG) business training but it is primarily for internal business unit issues.

Summary by Amy Antenora, Managing Editor, aftermarketNews.com:

While in college I had a writing professor who swore by one rather idealist maxim. She believed that in order to be a writer one must have time for leisure. Off the cuff, her comment made it sound as though you can’t really be a writer without having the luxury to laze around all day in the countryside or while the hours away contemplating at your local coffee shop. But she was, however, actually making a very important point: Without the opportunity to spend time outside of your normal daily routine, without having the chance to step outside the box, it is difficult to make room for new ideas.

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Much in the same way, it seems vital that we must make time for professional development in order to be successful professionals. Both Hartney and Boguski bring up great points in regard to this week’s Ask the Industry topic: Professional development is valuable and important, but sometimes, unfortunately too often today, it’s difficult to justify the cost and expense.

There are many variables to the equation. Can you afford to lose a day or two of work? Can you afford the registration and travel costs that often accompany training events? Will it be worth your time? Or on the flipside, will losing a day or two to attend a conference (and the subsequent registration fee) result in greater rewards? Will you be able to keep up with your peers, who are participating in professional development, without doing so yourself?

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Perhaps the question we must really ask is: Can you afford not?

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