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An Entrepreneurial Approach to Learning

by Paolo Giuricich CA

In setting your 2018 goals, as a professional, have you considered your own development?  In January 2016, the World Economic Forum (WEF), published a roadmap of the “10 skills needed to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution” by the year 2020.  In order of priority, these skills include:

  1. Complex Problem Solving
  2. Critical Thinking
  3. Creativity
  4. People Management
  5. Coordinating with Others
  6. Emotional Intelligence
  7. Judgement and Decision Making
  8. Service Orientation
  9. Negotiation
  10. Cognitive Flexibility


Taking ownership for your continued development, outside of a structured professional environment, will be critical to your success and growth trajectory in this year and beyond.



When deciding to pursue the qualification to become a Chartered Accountant (SA), the learning journey, is well publicised and clearly mapped out.  In addition, when joining an organisation to train and complete a training contract, there is an abundance of planned learning opportunities.  To be clear though, in the structured professional environment, most learning opportunities are role based.   In complete contrast, the learning opportunities for the entrepreneur are self-driven, and based on immediate skill requirements in order to survive and remain in business.

As the professional journey evolves (either in a structured professional role based environment or as an entrepreneur), the ‘formal’ learning opportunities become less and a ‘self-driven’ learning approach becomes very important.  Self-driven learning can take many forms, however the context of your work environment plays a pivotal role in the outcome of the learning.  Although Emotional Intelligence (EQ), was singled out as being an explicit skill by the WEF, in my view, most of the proposed, future proof skills, are grounded in the principles of EQ and EQ has a pervasive impact on all learning opportunities for all professional.

The way in which professionals learn, in the fast paced and digitized business context, has changed over the years, regardless of being role based or an entrepreneur.  To understand, how to take charge of your own learning in this changed world, we need to consider a refreshed approach to how and what learning actually means to a professional.  This is in stark contrast to the notion of a bygone era of the formal training course or workshop.

Modern Learning Tenets (or the ‘How” of learning), have started to take a different form in the new world.  These include:

  • Flexible and informal learning
  • Continuous and autonomous learning
  • Relevant and relatable content
  • Instant and intelligent content and delivery media
  • Community driven and co-created learning
  • Bite sized = right sized = brief and beautiful = less is more

The ‘What’ of Learning, is then largely driven by the work environment of a professional.  Role based employees will traditionally avail themselves of a myriad of learning options available internally to the organisation, and through discussion with a line manager, select events to attend and conclude a learning plan.  On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, for an entrepreneur, this luxury does not exist.  An entrepreneur will seek out learning opportunities, based on critical needs at certain points in time.

As a professional, your ability to develop yourself and your EQ further, goes beyond your technical ability and will need to focus on creating a personalised “Learning Matrix” that is bespoke to your development needs.  A Learning Matrix is a term coined to describe a multidimensional individual and organisational, co-created learning plan, that is future orientated to the key 2020 skills and will be used to support your future career and not just your immediate needs.

The Learning Matrix should include the following areas of thinking, to ensure relevancy as professionals as we work or our way to 2020:

  • Personal brand development
  • Culture integration and adaptation at an organisational and personal level
  • Business ecosystem understanding and navigation (or systems theory understanding)
  • Leadership capability enhancement
  • Relationship building and network maintenance
  • Social outreach and responsibilities
  • Ethical pervasiveness

The Learning Matrix should be a fluid process, that is flexible and adaptable to your development requirements as you progress through this year.  Be open to adjusting your learning as the context updates during the year.

As we now commence the year, what thought will we give to how, our own individual “Learning Matrix” will take shape, beyond our traditional frame for professional development for 2018?  When we merge the ‘How’ and ‘What’ of learning, how can we create magic for our own learning agility and propel ourselves into the workplace of the future, beyond formal CPD requirements?



PAOLO GIURICICH CA(SA) – Founder and Owner of smart EQ (www.smart-EQ.com)


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For the last 20 years, Paolo has held leadership roles across Learning and Development, Talent Management and Organisation Development at leading global firms, Investec, KPMG and Arthur Andersen. His passion for people development was ignited whilst working in professional services. Paolo is a Chartered Accountant and has worked in over 30 countries, assisting people and organisations in maximising their potential.  Paolo founded smart EQ - his own Professional Development Consultancy. He is currently studying Organisation Development through the NTL Institute for Applied Behavioural Sciences in the United Kingdom.


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