In its race with Amazon, Rackspace Hosting’s struggle over the open-source cloud computing has been epic. The two firms compete heavily with each other over the emergence of each of there computing platforms. Rackspace has promoted its OpenStack platform to corporate clients, just as Amazon has been doing. As tech heavyweights throw their support behind one or the other, the growth for both firms have been massive.
Both firms struggle to finding enough technical workers with any experience with “cloud computing” skills. These are the skills necessary to take the various computer languages and install them into the infrastructure of these cloud-based platforms. Universities and colleges have limited or no programs dealing with these cutting-edge technical skills.
To solve this problem, Rackspace is launching the Open Cloud Academy. The Open Cloud Academy will offer a number of educational programs that will provide students certifications in these cloud-based technologies. Rackspace Chairman, Graham Weston says; “The Open Cloud Academy can help turn the tide by offering highly sought after technical training to the public, bolstering the this scarce pipeline and helping fill the countless number of roles in San Antonio and beyond.” (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On February 20, 2013 No Comments
Many industries have Continuing and Professional Development or CPD requirements. Those in finance, accounting, legal all have mandatory training requirements that demand anywhere from 20-40 hours annually to be completed. These CPD requirements are in addition to many product or specific product programs that many firms offer.
A quick Google search for ‘CPD requirements’ provides almost 7 million results. CPD’s are serious business, yet many firms struggle with coordinating and delivering these programs to their staff. The standard litney of reasons for why this is difficult is common to many. Things like,
- Time away from the office
- Travel time to an event
- Sometimes the cost of airfare and hotel accommodations contribute to the costs
- Relevance of the training to the participant.
To me, there is a solution out there waiting to be discovered. Something that is easy to participate in, easy to access, manageable from a time perspective and yet fully reportable and accountable for firms, regulatory bodies and associations.
Copyright 2013 Bryant Nielson. All Rights Reserved.
Bryant Nielson – Managing Director of CapitalWave Inc.– offers 25+ years of training and talent management for executives, business owners, and top performing sales executives in taking the leap from the ordinary to extraordinary. Bryant is a entrepreneur, trainer, and strategic training adviser for many organizations. Bryant’s business career has been based on his results-oriented style of empowering the individual.
Learn more about Bryant at LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/bryantnielson
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 17, 2012 No Comments
There are numerous benefits to both the organization and the individual in relation to the CFA designation. We have discussed many of these benefits, but let’s take a look at the benefits that the organization can gain and utilize if you are looking to bring in CFA charterholders. Keep in mind that you may also be considering moving some of your existing associates through the CFA designation, so all of the organizational benefits we are discussing would apply in either situation.
First, let’s examine the overall organizational benefit, the level playing field. Every organization looks for this leveling in terms of departments or individuals. Where it’s applicable, the CFA designation serves as a “leveler”. For example, you may place the designation as a preference in hiring. As other associates begin to leave the applicable areas, the new hires with CFA designations will take their places. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 10, 2012 No Comments
An individual with a professional certification brings credibility and expertise to the organization. But when you look closer, you’ll see that a certified individual brings a package of multiple competencies to the table. These competencies are important both in terms of ability to the job as well as long term benefit to the organization. Many times, a professional certification brings both expressed and implied competencies to your organization. If you are looking to bring in more people with a special designation or if you are considering sending your brightest through the program, be sure to examine the expressed competencies and determine what competencies you can imply. The CFA designation will provide your organization with a long list of expressed and implied competencies. Let’s discuss those in detail so that you can determine if the CFA designation competencies match those of your organization.<!–more–>
First, let’s look at expressed competencies in terms of the CFA designation. Expressed competencies are those that we know are covered in the certification curriculum and process. These are easy to determine but it’s still a good idea to pick them out, both technical and soft skill competencies. Obviously the CFA program has a list of technical competencies, including knowledge and application of various markets and financial instruments. But what other competencies are expressed in the program and how can those fit in with your organization?
One of the more obvious “soft” competency groups in the CFA program is related to ethics and ethical behavior. Given the current financial situation, high ethics are certainly going to be beneficial to your organization and its future. In the CFA program, candidates are evaluated based on their ability to place integrity over their own interests. This competency obviously has a huge impact in today’s environment, in which many financial professionals have fallen because of self-interest over integrity. Among the other ethical competencies in the CFA program are the improvement and maintenance of the candidate or charterholder’s professional standing, through education, networking, and appropriate decision making.
In relation to professional competency, the CFA program expresses that duty is also a key attribute, next in importance to ethics. The program stresses that each charterholder has a duty to his or her client as well as a duty to his or her employers. This duty extends into making the correct choices, maintaining professionalism, and keeping every action above the board in terms of ethics. Between ethics and duty, the expressed soft competencies of the CFA program are quite strong.
Once an individual as passed the three levels and becomes a CFA charterholder, he or she can apply for membership in the CFA Institute. The requirements for membership are almost as strong as the requirements for entrance to the program, and bring another level of professional competency into play. To begin with, each local society may have different requirements. But on top of this, a person entering membership after obtaining the CFA designation must have two sponsors, one who is already a member and another who is a supervisor. Obviously the requirement for sponsors will provide another view of the CFA charterholders professional and ethical competency. In addition, the prospective member must be involved on a daily basis in the evaluation and application of financial data, specifically related to securities and investments. The potential member must also supervise this type of activity effectively and may also have taught this activity. Plus, at least 50% of the prospective member’s time must be devoted to investment decision-making and the creation of added value through those decisions. These are not only technical competencies but are also leadership and management competencies.
Let’s take a look at the competencies we can imply from the CFA program. First and foremost, the program is self-paced, with only the exam schedule as a final deadline for the candidate. As training and development professionals know, a self-paced program of any kind takes a specific type of adult learner, someone who has the drive and ambition to see the project through to the end. Plus, the person will probably have weighed the pros and cons of entering the program pretty heavily by the time he or she makes the decision to enter the program. This in itself shows a high level of analysis and decision making skill. A self-paced learner must also possess a high level of self-reliance and focus in order to complete a course of study. In the case of the CFA program, there are study groups and assistance available; it’s just a matter of determining when the time has come to go those resources. In other words, the self-paced learner must utilize self reliance but also be self-aware enough to realize when it’s time to reach out. Isn’t that a great combination in the field?
Revisiting the CFA curriculum, we see that technical and financial acumen are tested routinely, and in multiple levels of learning taxonomy. This will require that a candidate have the ability to move knowledge through those levels. For example, a less-disciplined adult learner may learn enough to “get by”, but not enough to synthesize the knowledge he or she has obtained in the course of study. This probably wouldn’t work in terms of the CFA program. The currency of the CFA curriculum combined with the analysis and synthesis of knowledge will also require a candidate to possess leadership and technical decision making skill. On top of all of this, these competencies will prepare a potential CFA charterholder to make the decisions that drive your organization forward.
Clearly the CFA designation tests the competencies of potential charterholders. And because the CFA will come to you with those competencies, the benefits to the organization will be impressive.
In our final discussion, we will look at the CFA designation and the overall benefits at the organizational level.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 3, 2012 No Comments
Certifications and professional designations have a value to the organization and the individual only if they are recognized or explainable in terms of the standards they uphold. In other words, both individual and organization look for designations that can be used to market, lend credibility, and explain standards, education and experience. Many organizations have internal certification or designation programs and these are a great way to get associates involved and retain them. But what does an internal certification actually prove? Everyone inside the organization knows what the certification means, what the person had to do to get it, and what standards he or she was held to. But outside of that organization, what value is the certification to shareholders, customers, or other organizations? The CFA designation is well known throughout the world, and because of its structure, gives your organization and each individual the recognition and standard they deserve. Let’s find out how. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 26, 2012 No Comments
The CFA study program encompasses many areas of the financial industry, as well as a strong emphasis on ethics and professional responsibility. As we’ve discussed briefly, the CFA candidate must pass three exam levels. The CFA Institute recommends that each candidate spend at least 250 hours in preparation for each level. The curriculum is self-study, which means that the candidate can pace him or herself according to his or her own comfort level. However, as exams are only given on certain dates, the candidate must create the pace to fit within those timelines. From the organizational perspective, the fact that the program is self-paced is very important. The candidate that completes all three levels successfully will prove that he or she is dedicated, determined, and goal-oriented. From an education perspective, we know that any self-paced program requires this dedication and determination, not to mention the discipline to make study a part of every day life. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 19, 2012 No Comments
The CFA designation, or Chartered Financial Analyst, is a high-level certification for professionals in the areas of investment and financial analysis. The program consists of self-study, along with three exam levels that measure almost every level of learning. Professionals must also meet criteria for time in the profession, as well as a high level of competency and ethics. The CFA program, offered by the CFA Institute, is global in its reach and has been in existence since 1962. In the financial world, a CFA designation is considered to be among the highest of professional designations. In view of these criteria, the CFA designation is beneficial for both the individual and the organization in several ways, including the curriculum, the CFA standards and recognition, competencies, and in an overall sense at the organizational level. Before we examine each piece, let’s discuss in more detail what the CFA designation means, which professionals hold this designation, and what organizations look for CFA designated charterholders. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 12, 2012 No Comments
Becoming a certified professional in any field can be a rigorous process. Some designations require classroom study and preparation, while others simply require that a designee pass an exam based on his or her knowledge. Curriculum is also important, but also based on the field. If the field is a dynamic one, such as the financial industry, then a curriculum should be dynamic to match the field. In terms of the risk management certifications, both PRMIA and GARP offer self study programs, designed to be “at pace” with the individual. But both organizations offer examinations that are rigorous and that will test the ability and knowledge of the candidate.
The PRM program is comprised of four exams. As we discussed, PRMIA does not require that a candidate take all four exams at one time, nor does the organization require that the exams be taken in a specific order. PRM Exam I covers theory related to finance, as well as financial instruments and markets. In Exam II, the candidate will need to understand the mathematics that accompanies risk measurement. Exam III is a test of common practices in the risk management filed, and exam IV covers professional standards, conduct, ethics, and bylaws as set by PRMIA. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 5, 2012 No Comments
It’s very difficult to ensure that the individuals you hire into your organization have a recognized standard of knowledge, experience, and competency. You can certify internally, but this type of program does not have much meaning outside of your organization. That’s why it’s necessary to look for external certification sources. And in the case of risk management, the three certifications are highly visible, recognized, and set standards that will most likely improve your organization. Let’s look at how the PRM, FRM, and ERP standards look, and then discuss how those standards might impact your organization.
First, the Professional Risk Manager certification from PRMIA seems to have a high level of recognition throughout the industry. PRMIA defines its certification as the “benchmark” in global risk management. To begin with, the organization gives partial credit toward certification if you hold another designation, such as Actuarial Fellow, Actuarial Associate, or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), to name a few. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 1, 2012 No Comments
Professional certifications are important to both the individuals that obtain them as well as the organizations in which those individuals work. In the financial field, personnel involved in risk management can obtain several important certifications from two major international groups. In today’s uncertain financial environment, professional certifications can go a long way to calm investors and regulators, as well as restore faith in the financial system in general.