Professional Development at SEP

September 25, 2017

You’re always behind the curve. You can never catch up. There is no leading, you’re always chasing.

That is what it feels like as a software engineer these days. Technology is moving at breakneck speed. Five new React competitors came out this morning. Rails is old; Elm is new. Elm!? Back in my day that was a tree.

This is serious. And for our team at SEP (EVERYONE, not just engineers and designers) we take professional development seriously.

Taking learning seriously is the primary way we can help our clients stay ahead of the competition. Of course, learning new things is one of the most fun parts of my job… seriously!

A Culture of Professional Development

Let’s start with clarity. We should be able to answer this question with extreme clarity:


In fact, I encourage you to ask yourself this question as well. Maybe about yourself and/or your organization.

We spent a long time trying to answer this question. Finally, we landed here:

why professional development at SEP?


Professional development (PD) is vital to SEP’s business and culture.

  • PD keeps us current and able to win new projects
  • PD improves our ability to deliver software to clients
  • PD helps us to continuously grow and improve our own abilities
  • PD allows us to safely explore new ideas, tools, and techniques

The guiding principles that influence our PD system are:

  • Minimizing friction to doing PD activities
  • Minimizing friction to recording/sharing PD activities
  • Expecting everyone to do PD that is relevant to their current (or future) role

How We Promote Professional Development Today

After we discovered our newfound purpose, we built a new system. Here are the basics of our new system:

  • No personal “training/PD” budgets.
  • Reimburse whenever you spend money on professional development. Ideas for spending money:
  • No conference reimbursement.
  • Ask EVERYONE two questions each quarter:
    • What did you do for professional development this quarter?
    • What are you planning on pursuing next?
  • Aggregate/display/publicize above results.

Mitch shares his professional development activities in the SEP.Commons
Mitch shares his professional development activities

As with everything else at SEP, we’re constantly testing, learning and refining the system as we uncover new ways to continue developing ourselves. I’d love to hear you and/or your organization’s approach to PD. Hit me up on twitter @jon_fuller (or find me in person!).

Love to learn? We’re hiring. I’d love to talk to you about it!