- Allegra Consulting Blog -

You are here

Experienced staff member

Experience Vs qualifications. What do employers value more?

Posted 16 October 2012
by Helen Haley

“Avoid the precepts of those thinkers whose reasoning is not confirmed by experience.”
Leonardo Da Vinci

Over the years of conversations with clients and candidates of Allegra Consulting, I am often asked about the value of formal change management qualifications. Do employers see them as valuable? Do they matter as much as experience? Do I need qualifications to progress my career?

The traditional representation of learning has often been depicted as the 70:20:10 model. This model states that 70% of development comes from on-the-job experiences, tasks and problem solving, 20% through feedback and from working with positive and negative role-models, and 10% from formal or “classroom” training. The model has been around for a long time and many organisations still refer to it when they describe their approaches to organisational learning and development.

My experience in the change management discipline is that nothing truly beats hands on experience. I have rarely been asked by clients to supply candidates who are change management qualified as opposed to have strong change experience, even for senior roles or complex change assignments. Experience seems to be valued far more highly together with the ability to demonstrate that an individual has a proven track record in the change space with a number of organisations.

This shouldn’t translate to mean that formal qualifications do not have a role in ongoing learning; however it is important to find the right courses to enhance professional development. Feedback from industry peers suggests there are not a lot of quality options in Australia – I haven’t heard anyone “rave” about a particular course or degree. If you are looking at courses to help you perform better in the work context then I believe it is important to look carefully at the syllabus to ensure the “nitty gritty” is covered and not just the change models and templates that are readily available through internet research and within organisations themselves. One of the benefits of building experience in change management across a number of organisations is that the key change principles and methodologies can be applied fairly consistently across the board.

In summary, exceptional change managers building careers in this exciting discipline will want to mix theoretical knowledge with practical experience. Varied, challenging change projects across different industries, departments and organisations will build credibility, experience and knowledge – an unbeatable career combination.

This is a much debated topic and I would be keen to hear your thoughts via our comments section below.

Helen Haley
Managing Director, Allegra Consulting

Share the wealth...