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ATD Blog

"...it was the pinnacle of credentials and the next step in solidifying my career expertise."

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More than 5,000 talent development professionals have earned the APTD or CPTD credential. Get to know the 5,000th member of our talented and diverse community:

Michelle McEllis is a Director in the US. She earned the Certified Professional in Talent Development (CPTD®) credential in 2023.

Why did you pursue the CPTD?
Having been in the education, training, and development space for most of my career, I knew it was the pinnacle of credentials in this space and felt that it was the next step in solidifying my career expertise.

How have you benefited from the credential—professionally and/or personally?
I recently passed the exam, so other than acknowledgment of the credential, there has been no specific benefit professionally yet. However, having earned this designation, I know I am among some of the best in the education, training, and development field, so my confidence has increased, and it just feels good to know that I have reached such a high level in the field, and I am in very good company!

What advice would you share with others considering certification?
While studying is important and knowing the information is important, the best thing you can do for the exam and for your career is to immerse yourself in your work. Challenge yourself to learn and take on new challenges. These are the very things that shape you professionally and that prepare you not just for the exam but for the expectations after you achieve the certification.

How do you think certification helps the talent development field?
Certifications establish high professional standards that meet the current and growing needs of our industry. When someone earns a certification, it is an independent verification that the person is dedicated to the profession, has the knowledge and skills to be a leader, and is invested in their continued growth.

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How did your employer support your pursuit of the credential?
My team has been the fertile soil for me to grow in. I have been challenged, encouraged, given opportunities to grow, and most of all celebrated! This accomplishment is truly a reflection of my team. No one wins alone and this is no exception!

What does having your credential mean to you?
It is an honor and a blessing. I first seriously considered taking the exam about a decade ago but never was in a position to dedicate the time and resources to do so. Life happened and time passed, but the opportunity circled back to me and this time I dedicated myself to earning it, so this represents a long-term goal achieved.

How did you get into the talent development field?
I am a teacher at heart. Ever since I was in middle school, I have loved helping people learn and grow and become better versions of themselves. That internal calling in my life is what has been the driving force for me to keep growing and becoming better myself. I trained to become a coach as well and I believe that the combination of teacher and coach is where my best work happens.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Over the years I have had so much incredible wisdom passed on to me, so it is hard to state just one. First and foremost, from Scripture, “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise” (Proverbs 19:20). Second, if you don’t change the things that need changing, the things that need changing will change you. Lastly, KISSS—Keep It Simple, Specific, and Strategic. Oh, and one more thing...don’t forget to rest. Rest is as much a part of success as the work is.

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What is a great book you’ve read recently?
The End of Average by Todd Rose. It is a book that everyone in the education space MUST read! Changed EVERYTHING for me in how I saw learning.

What is your favorite hobby or pastime?
I am a mom to two amazing kids. They are my life’s work, passion, and joy. I love spending time with them every chance I get/every chance they LET me! Aside from that, I love to bake, cook, work out (because I love to bake and cook), and I am an expert at sharing memes with my friends and my team!

What is the most unusual job you've had?
I worked as a 9-1-1 telecommunicator. Some shifts I answered the 9-1-1 calls, and some shifts I worked dispatch, telling the various emergency services where to go. It was fun to boss the cops around on the radio!

Have you earned the APTD or CPTD? Share your story with the community.

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