Personal and Professional Development for Business Students


Paul Dowson

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    Praise for Personal and Professional Development for Business Students by Paul Dowson

    The first thing I really love about Paul Dowson's hugely comprehensive Personal and Professional Development for Business Students is its clarity; he takes complex themes and turns them into accessible learning outcomes for students and academics. The other thing to love about this book is its humanity – it is insightful and borne of a deep concern about how students transition from higher education to working life and citizenship.

    Jane Artess, HECSU Director of Research

    Paul Dowson's Personal and Professional Development for Business Students clearly approaches the ‘twenty-first-century century skills-issue’ and stresses the importance of personal development in relation to higher education in a fast changing globalizing employment market. Hands-on, reflective, thorough: this book is already a definite must-have both for HE institutions’ professionals and students.

    Nieke Campagne, Careers/Policy Advisor, Leiden University, The Netherlands

    This is a thought provoking invitation to students engaged in the management of their careers. It steps way outside the tired banalities of what is called ‘career guidance’. And that means facing career-management issues ranging from the personal to the planetary. The author invites students into a process of critical and self-critical engagement with the issues. Some of these are moral and ethical. The material points to the uses of narrative in making sense of the resulting complexity. All of this moves into territory deeper and wider than what are recited as economic, psychological and political ‘facts’. The inclusion of episodes from the author's experience help to draw each student into her or his own experience not just for its functionality but also for its humanity.

    Dr Bill Law FRSA, the career-learning café,

    Paul Dowson's encouraging book connects depth of thought and analysis with a clear perception and an empathic understanding of the needs which students and graduates have in their search to find their career and their position in life. The ways introduced and explored open up practical steps and perspectives during higher education which will be truly empowering. The text is making clear that there is common ground between the author and the reader in the latter's struggle for a position of responsibility in business and human existence. I assume this fresh, pragmatic and at the same time deep approach will inspire students’ career development and debates on the subject among academics and professionals in the UK and elsewhere.

    Dr Gerhart Rott, University of Wuppertal, Germany. Representative formerly from FEDORA and now the EAIE at the European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network (ELGPN)

    This book is unique in the areas of personal development, employability and responsibility in business. First, it brings all these areas together in a coherent and rigorous fashion. Second, it recognizes what is needed for the twenty-first-century business student in an environment which demands both integrated thinking and integrity. Third, it is focused in practice, recognizing the different functional areas and outlining what responsibility looks like in each of these. Fourth, it acts as a credible means of integrating the business curriculum by embedding personal development in each of the professional areas. The book is for students, academics and practitioners, setting up a dialogue that will enable the most effective career development.

    Simon Robinson, Professor of Applied and Professional Ethics, Director of Research Centre for Governance, Leadership and Global Responsibility, Leeds Beckett University

    Personal and Professional Development for Business Students makes accessible to the student reader a wealth of scholarly riches, setting employability in a wider critical context, that of the development of the ethical and integrated self. Packed with fresh perspectives and through provoking concepts and practical ideas, the book grapples with the challenges of how to become an employable professional in the protean world of postmodernity. While refusing simplistic conclusions and naive optimism, the book provides ample grounds for a belief in the lasting benefits that come from intellectual enlightenment and reflective learning.

    Dave Stanbury, Director of Employability, University of Essex

    In this wonderful book, Paul Dowson presents an excellent and accessible overview of theories on identity development. It offers a wealth of theoretical information and practical exercises, aiming at the integration in business of the personal, the moral and the organizational level. It will be a great help to business students in becoming competent, authentic and responsible professionals.

    Professor Hetty Zock, University of Groningen


    I dedicate this book to my daughter and two sons, Hana, Alexander and Luke who in their twenties are still near the beginning of the adult life course.

    List of Tables

    About the Author

    Paul Dowson This is Paul Dowson's second business title following Business Ethics in Practice which he co-authored with Professor Simon Robinson (CIPD, 2012). The themes of responsibility and comprehending the contemporary age are again present but applied to personal and professional development. Paul gained his MBA from the University of Leeds and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He is currently working with the Centre for Governance, Leadership and Global Responsibility at Leeds Beckett University as well as Bath Spa University.

    Foreword by Dr Victoria Hands

    We live in momentous times. No matter what their area of expertise, the leaders of tomorrow will be the first generation ever to face the triple crises of global climate change impacts, diminishing oil and the scarcity of other natural resources such as water and the majority of minerals we take for granted today.

    Today's decisions shape our tomorrow – what is at stake now is no less than the very existence of the human species on the planet. It's a bit surreal and can be likened to standing at a historical crossroads. The responsibility for the future rests with all, including young adults, with a particular emphasis on the role of women (currently 30 per cent female representation in 46 global parliaments). This constitutes quite a weight to put on, what Dowson coins, ‘19-something’ adults and others born around the new millennium.

    The ‘new normal’ under which we are increasingly operating is characterized by velocity, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) at a global scale. This book makes a great companion for any young person or educator wishing to maximize their resources and resourcefulness for a resilient future.

    The role of education providers (institutions and individuals alike) is crucial in not only delivering relevant information, but also in facilitating transformational learning approaches. This adds cognitive dissonance to cognitive development and through social learning permits the co-creation of new knowledge focusing on myth-busting, as well as both challenging and transforming the status quo.

    Essentially this involves the appreciation of an individual's existing competency, which is what this book encourages: the exploration of personal identity and creativity, reflection and self-awareness; to become self-conscious in the true sense of the word (at the individual, group and global scale); to see ourselves as unique parts of a thriving, ever-changing global system. The process, as Dowson explains, leads to enhanced self-esteem, which is essential when inevitable obstacles arise. This in turn enhances social learning and generates innovation for global good, bringing individual good as a happy by-product.

    Cognitive development must focus on understanding how we arrived at our current global state by contextualizing the present in relation to history, at the same time as anticipating the future and appreciating emerging trends – taking a bird's eye view. Unlike the majority of those in power over the last 50 years, who seem to have adopted something closer to a mouse's myopic view, young people will need highly developed critical thinking skills to be able to distinguish between bankrupt theories that make it untenable for human existence on planet Earth, and those which will make humanity's future not just possible but bright.

    Young people need the knowledge, skills and behaviours to move from the predominant short-term thinking and doing embraced by many of their role models to appreciating and expanding upon the long-term, global well-being focus which is starting to characterize resilient business practice. They will need to be able to integrate self-knowledge and knowledge of the world in continuous, life-long action learning and reflection to be ‘future-fit’, ethically robust, sustainability literate and implementation ready. Which employer is going to say no to that skills package if they want to be around for the rest of the twenty-first century?

    Dowson introduces signposts and urges the mastery of skills including the ability to embrace interdisciplinary, intergenerational and integrated thinking and most importantly, translate theories into practice through interdependence, collaboration and creativity. What he hints at is nothing short of an evolution of human consciousness.

    So this book, which aims to guide the young adult embarking on business studies (and other degree courses) in their own personal development is a timely and a critical asset. It is based on the belief that changes in consciousness are about personal development, that there is a strong relationship between personal development and business responsibility, that accepting and valuing plurality in oneself and in others enables us to access our inherent creative resources which will support the development of a global consciousness within which humanity can thrive. Personal and Professional Development for Business Students embeds in education the potential of a most welcome pedagogy of hope.

    Dr Victoria Hands

    Director, Sustainability Hub, Kingston University


    I would like to acknowledge here everyone who, one way or another, played an important part in the publication of this book. Firstly, I extend my thanks to Kirsty Smy and Nina Smith, the editorial staff at Sage Publications. It was a pleasure to work together on producing this book. Secondly, I would also like to acknowledge the anonymous panel of academic reviewers for their valuable comments. Next, the countless students who have helped me to develop my thinking and teaching on Personal and Professional Development and its integration with corporate and global responsibility. There are also a number of people to mention by name in supporting the research and writing of this textbook including: Jane Artess, Steve Barry, Nieke Campagne, Victoria Hands, Nicky Hirst, Jacomijn van der Kooij, Bill Law, Hannah Marsland, Phil Marsland, J. Richard Middleton, Carolynn Rankin, Simon Robinson, Gerhart Rott, Ismail Mesut Sezgin, David Stanbury and Hetty Zock. My thanks also to Philip Doyne and Ruth Fidler for reading large sections of the book and providing comments.

    Quick Reference – Key Ideas

    This is a list of 64 key themes examined in the book, four for each of the 16 chapters, many of which are brand new for a personal development textbook. Take some time to review these and using the chapter numbers find material that particularly interests you. By using this book you will become familiar with all these important subjects or concepts.

    • agency 5
    • assessment centre 10
    • Bildung 7
    • body language 10
    • career anchors 9
    • career planning 9
    • circular economy 16
    • competencies 5
    • confidence 5
    • cooperant 11
    • critical thinking 3
    • ecozoic 6
    • employability 1
    • employee engagement 13
    • enneagram 7
    • ethical practitioner 5
    • first impressions 10
    • futures consciousness 16
    • futures trends 16
    • Generation Y 15
    • global 6
    • governance 14
    • graduate skills 4
    • group work 10
    • identity crisis 12
    • independent learning 3
    • individuation 12
    • integrity 8
    • intergenerational 12
    • internship 10
    • King III 14
    • life stages 2
    • living contradiction 8
    • moral authenticity 8
    • multiple identities 8
    • Myers-Briggs 7
    • narrative 9
    • networking mentality 4
    • personal development 1
    • post-Freud orientation 16
    • postmodernity 2
    • professional 1
    • projection 12
    • quadruple bottom line 13
    • reflective practice 7
    • relationships 15
    • responsible business 13
    • responsible leader 14
    • responsible marketing 13
    • self-concept 9
    • self-discovery 15
    • self-leadership 14
    • skills development 4
    • skills gap 3
    • skills offering 4
    • social entrepreneur 11
    • storying oneself 15
    • strangeness 6
    • teams 3
    • transition 2
    • uncertainty 1
    • values 2
    • volunteering 11
    • worldview 6

    Quick Reference – Key Thinkers/Authors

    Here is an index by chapter number of 40 minds whose thinking has contributed significantly to this textbook.

    • Apter, Terri 7, 15
    • Argyris, Chris 7
    • Barnett, Ronald 2, 6
    • Bauman, Zygmunt 1, 6, 16
    • Baxter Magolda, Marcia 7
    • Bowie, Norman 8
    • Brown, Marvin 8
    • Erikson, Erik 2, 12, 13, 15
    • Freud, Sigmund 12
    • Goodpaster, Kenneth 8
    • Gore, Al 1
    • Guptara, Prabhu 7
    • Hart, Stuart 5
    • Haste, Helen 5
    • Hiltunen, Elina 16
    • Jencks, Charles 15
    • Jung, Carl 7, 12
    • King, Mervyn 14
    • Klein, Melanie 12
    • Kung, Hans 6
    • Law, Bill 9
    • Lebow, Richard Ned 8
    • Lederach, John Paul 13
    • Lonergan, Bernard 7
    • Macmurray, John 7
    • Nealon, Jeffrey 16
    • Oakeshott, Michael 2
    • Ricoeur, Paul 14
    • Rifkin, Jeffrey 16
    • Robinson, Simon 8, 12, 13, 14, 15
    • Sacks, Jonathan 6, 8, 9
    • Sassen, Saskia 16
    • Savickas, Mark 9, 16
    • Schein, Edgar 9
    • Schlossberg, Nancy 7
    • Schön, Donald 7
    • Sloterdijk, Peter 1, 16
    • Whitehead, Jack 8
    • Winnicott, Donald 7

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