Professional Development Grows Leaders

The act of growing oneself or others requires leadership. The ability to lead is an art, a collection of skills, which can be learned and sharpened1 through professional development.

Nancy Halbrook, Human Resources Manager for SiVance, LLC, a subsidiary of Milliken & Company, believes that professional development is equally as important as technical education in the growth of an individual’s skill set. She recommends that professionals, seeking to identify their developmental goals, search for industry or career path milestones that they wish to achieve and then identify trainings or actions that will allow them to expand their knowledge and behaviors in these areas.

Halbrook also serves as the President of the North Central Florida Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). SHRM is the world’s largest HR professional society. It provides resources to serve the needs of HR professionals and advance the practice of human resource management.

There are several forms of professional development. Examples include courses – whether instructor-led or self-study, seminars, workshops, networking functions, job shadowing opportunities, and conferences.

According to an IMB Business School web article, “A leadership conference provides the opportunity for business leaders to network and meet like-minded professionals. It is a great platform for leaders to exchange views and information, [and it gives them] the opportunity to get up to speed on the latest leadership concepts and business trends.2” Additional benefits include increased team productivity, improved retention rates, bolstered employee engagement and the development of future leaders.

Professionals can also take control of their own learning and development. Saskia Niekoop, HR Manager for Mindtree, recommends that individuals search for webinars within their industry, network through LinkedIn, search for peer-reviewed articles, and listen to podcasts and TED Talks. Developmental trainings provide professionals with the opportunity to learn from the best, make meaningful connections, learn more about their industry, and even inspire creativity.

These desired outcomes on behalf of the Greater Gainesville community spurred the Gainesville Black Professionals’ upcoming Leadership Conference. This conference provides business owners, entrepreneurs, and professionals an opportunity to network, exchange views and build partnerships while developing their leadership styles, team management skills and abilities to narrate and share their stories.

The GBP Leadership Conference is taking place on Feb. 2 at the Santa Fe College’s Fine Arts Hall at 9am. Local subject matter experts, such as Scott Schroeder, Craig Wilburn, Erika Dawkins, Romona Jackson, Jaron Jones, Ph.D. and Naima Brown, Ph.D. will share professional development tips and advice with attendees.

Gainesville Black Professionals, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing communication, collaboration and networking between professionals, entrepreneurs and business owners. It is the largest network of Black professionals in North Central Florida with over 1,500 members. For more information, visit

1 – “Ten Strategies for Developing the Art of Leadership” (

2 – “Leadership Conference: How Executives Can Benefit from Attending a Leadership Conference” (

Written by Xposure Consulting Firm, Inc. with excerpts from a survey interview with local HR leaders

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