The importance of a personalised learning path

Provisional Chartered Accountant Colin Chisholm shares his experiences about finding the right learning to suit him.

In brief

  • The journey of learning is as important as the destination
  • Learning occurs through problem solving, diverse experiences, taking risks and being challenging
  • Personalised learning facilitates an individual’s unique needs and circumstances

What is a personalised learner?

Having spent the last four years ‘shifting’ from one learning experience to the next, including working in Shanghai, starting a business, working for a Bank while doing his Chartered Accountant designation and Chartered Alternative Investment designation Colin is a case study in highly personalised professional development.

“Over the past four years I put my learning in front of career development - sacrificing short term pay for long term personal growth. I have shifted my learning from studying accounting at university, and marketing in China to my CA, and now into an alternative finance post-graduate degree.”

“The key for me is that every form of learning should be personalised to an individuals unique needs and circumstances. Being given institutional curriculum to study that students are not personally interested in, in order to attain higher potential salaries is counter-intuitive to personal growth and learning providers need to recognise this.”

Colin Chisholm, Investment Manager at Ferio Limited


Learning through exploring and taking risks

“My most important learning experience was on the job and cost me $5000 because I was new to procurement and it is those sort of hands-on learning experiences which should be prioritised in education today.”

Colin realised that his learning style was more suited to a personalised learning experiences through both need and circumstance.

“I am a hands-on learner…I don’t learn by reading a textbook. I learn on the job, through direct mentorship, and collaboration as part of a virtuous circle and feedback loop.

“I studied alternative finance because I see this being increasingly transformative to the traditional capital markets and it is relevant to what I do now which is creating new financial structures. However, this is a fairly new area so there wasn’t really a lot in the way of formal learning so I have learnt by putting myself in challenging situations and continually problem solving.”

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What does the learning look like in the future?

As for the future of learning Colin has strong thoughts on the role that both learning institutions and employers should be playing.

“A paradigm shift needs to occur when it comes to employers recognising and valuing personal development. The responsibility lies equally between learning institutions and employers. Communication between these parties to realign and prioritise key competencies is a good place to start.

But employees need to know what is best for them in both experiential and learning environments and if the employer is unwilling to meet these requests, be prepared to leave in order to continue their development.”

As for the present he believes individuals should unashamedly focus on themselves and “get to grips with risk in order to make the most of every learning opportunity.”

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