A new calendar year is a time when humans are full of enthusiasm for making changes, improving things about ourselves or, well, just getting something done. If there’s one thing that defines a Cogent employee, it’s their curiosity. Because of this, we give each and every employee extra time (five days on top of their regular annual leave), and extra money ($3000), to satisfy that insatiable curiosity. One of the best things is finding out the surprising ways in which people use this time and money. This year, we thought we’d share some of these with the internet.
Amelia, General Manager
“I’ve set myself up with two year-long subscriptions this year. One is for Medium, as I get a lot of valuable insight and advice from interesting people on there. The other is for Calm, my favourite meditation app which keeps me, well, calm. An important trait in general management!
Speaking of which, as a new General Manager I feel I have a good working knowledge of strategy, marketing, people management and some exposure to change management, but I haven’t lead a budgeting process or been responsible for financial reporting before. So I plan to do a finance course at the Australian Institute of Management to give me a base level of understanding, and then I’ll shadow Mark, our CEO, and Jen, our Finance person, through the Cogent budget process this year.”
Matt, Lead Product Designer
“I’ve been attending TedX Sydney for 4 years in a row, and will be doing so again this year. The diversity of content covered in this single day conference has NOTHING directly related to design. This is the biggest advantage. It helps me become a better critical thinker and more creative person, breaking habitual thinking and complacency in how I solve problems.
In fact, after the first 2 years, I started bringing my wife along. Cogent paid for my bit but she tagged along, so I was learning with my wife which was great. We continue our conversations about what we learned together around the dinner table, meaning I get deeper and longer-term knowledge implanted in my brain. This directly affects the quality and longevity of what Cogent invested in me.”
James, Lead Developer
“What does a developer do when they want to level-up in a non-technical way? This was the situation I found myself in a few years ago, when I had to ask myself if technical conferences were really getting me to where I wanted to be.
Cogent answered in the best way, helping me to find a business coach, and allowing me to spend my learning budget on business and strategy sessions every few months. These meetings have been invaluable, allowing me to address tough business situations as I encounter them. That’s great for Cogent, and our clients. They’ve also steered my career in the right direction, with me taking on more strategic responsibilities in Cogent, and starting my own side-hustle, LocalFlourish”
Sophia, Marketing Manager
“My past experiences with learning budgets have always been very bureaucratic, with a strict requirement to link any learning expenditure directly back to your role. In a previous leadership role my request to use the learning budget for a confidence coach was rejected because it was deemed unrelated to my role – go figure! As a new employee at Cogent, it’s incredibly refreshing to be able to be the master of your own development, and take it in any direction that you choose.
As a digital product company, we operate in a rapidly-changing landscape and so our marketing strategy has to keep up with the new channels, platforms and opportunities that seem to arise overnight. This year I’ll be spending some time doing advanced workshops in areas like Paid Search Advertising and Search Engine Optimisation, as well as learning about the impact of new social media algorithms (have you heard Facebook is dead?). I also have a New Year’s Resolution to read one personal or professional development book a month so will be kicking off with Jack: Straight from the Gut (for some growth mindset inspiration), 12 Rules for Life (recommended by Tim Ferris) and The Power of Now (a gift that has been sitting in my book case, unread, for far too long).”
Ivan, Principal Software Developer
“I’ve decided to do a short course in facilitation. As a leader in the business, my focus has shifted from straight delivery work to facilitating workshops, various discussions and group collaboration. It’s now about half of my time. By improving my ability to facilitate conversations, I’ll make the quality of that half of my time better and save everyone time, effort and frustration. It’s also an incredibly useful skill outside of the workplace.
Another thing I’ve set out to do this year is improve my storytelling skills. With The School of Life downstairs, it’s very convenient to do so as they have a number of books and courses in that field. The ability to tell a cohesive, engaging and compelling story is what I believe I need to have in order to progress with my career goals. It helps to engage people in conversations and deliver your point of view efficiently.”
“While the artificial intelligence hype rollercoaster continues, some applications with real commercial value have quietly been maturing. Cogent has been supporting my expansion into AI and machine learning, backing my choice to go back to uni to build my theoretical base.
Last November we took that to the next level; Cogent supported me taking a break from client work for a month long internship at the Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute at Deakin. I built a prototype computer vision system to generate Web UI code from hand drawn mockups and learned immensely from working at the intersection between academia and engineering. This year I’ll be using my learning budget on more opportunities to explore the cutting edge of AI and extending what is possible for us to bring our clients.”
Adam, Lead Product Manager
“I have two broad areas in which I focus my learning. The first is growing in my ability to think well, and the second is my ability to create environments where others can also think well.
Leading up to this year I did a couple of courses around the environment creation area. The first was a facilitation training course through the Groupwork Centre and the second was a The Thinking Environment course. Both courses I highly recommend for people also wanting to grow in these areas – two of the best courses I have ever participated in.
This year I will be continuing on the theme of learning more across these two areas. Farnham Street is an online community which helps people develop their thinking skills, from identifying cognitive biases to becoming a better reader. I’ll be getting a subscription to their content. I’ll also be doing some other workshops around creating environments for good thinking.”
Inspired? Follow the links to find out more about each learning area.
Find out more about what its like to work at Cogent on on Careers Page.