About us

Revolutionising CPD: The Professional Alternative’s journey

We are The Professional Alternative, and we’ve been making CPD fun for lawyers and accountants since 2020. That’s right: back when most people were getting lockdown puppies and perfecting their sourdough starter, founders Steve Parrott, Sarah Katherine (SK) Bagshaw and Derek Southall took it upon themselves to revolutionise the world of online learning for professional services firms.

So what’s our alternative?

We define ourselves as being different: an alternative to boring. It’s so easy for CPD training to feel like another dull chore to tick off the list, but it doesn’t have to be that way. As the Netflix of online learning platforms, we create fun, compelling and interactive training you’ll want to make time for (because it’s too good to miss). Your staff will see our training as a perk of the job, almost on a par with free pastries or a complimentary massage. But we offer something that even the most delicious pain au chocolat does not: our training is fully verifiable for CPD and approved by regulators such as the ICAEW, the ACCA and the SRA.

You’ll laugh, you’ll learn. You’ll smash your CPD targets.

Our online learning is designed and approved by lawyers and accountants, for everyone in your firm. We cover the whole gamut of training topics, from compliance and cyber security to personal and professional development. Check out our training below:

How it all began

OK, so back to 2020. Two of our dream team of founders, Steve and SK, had already worked together for more than 10 years. Together they formed Alternative Events and built it into the most important series of events on the professional services calendar. Their unique perspective meant they were acutely aware of a gap in the market for engaging, informative content that was totally trackable and fully CPD-compliant. When they joined forces with long-time friend and tech expert Derek, the perfect partnership was formed, and The Professional Alternative took flight.

During the first two years they built their team and the platform began to emerge, attracting a crowd of savvy investors who could all see the benefits TPA would bring.

The central aim was simple: to offer practical, pragmatic advice in an engaging way, to support busy professionals on the go. And with over 70% of content taking less than 10 minutes to consume, and nine different formats to suit every learning style, they have stayed true to that goal.

In 2022, to complement the wide range of personal and professional development content, they began building their risk and compliance eLearning suite. And in doing so they took the opportunity to breathe new life – and a much-needed sense of fun – into topics that, typically, are viewed as pretty dull. Today, TPA’s risk and compliance modules are the go-to for more than a third of the top 100 firms. Why? Because they know they can rely on them to meet the requirements of the regulators and ensure the safety of the firm and everyone in it.

Meet our team of superheroes

Steve, SK, and Derek may be incredibly talented but obviously they couldn’t have done all of this alone, so now it’s time to meet the rest of the team of superheroes who have pooled their collective skills to turn TPA into the groundbreaking platform you see today.

Sarah Katherine (SK) Bagshaw

Co-founder & Director

Has spent 20+ years creating insightful and innovative content journeys and learning experiences for business CEOs and technology leaders

  • Superpower: Brings order to chaos
  • Relaxes by: Reading
  • Kryptonite: Apathy and disorganisation
  • Will save humanity by: Checking for typos in any pacts made with the devil

Steve Parrott

Co-founder & Director

People person whose career lifetime has been dedicated to bringing together CEOs and technology leaders within professional services and beyond

  • Superpower: Ideas factory
  • Relaxes by: Cooking
  • Kryptonite: Rigid rules
  • Will save humanity by: Having an idea that’s so crazy it just might work

Derek Southall

Co-founder & Director

Legal genius and tech entrepreneur with 25 years’ experience in global law firms; founder of the Hyperscale Group

  • Superpower: Technological know-how
  • Relaxes by: Walking
  • Kryptonite: People who can’t be bothered
  • Will save humanity by: Applying ingenuity and common sense to combat the robot uprising

Ian Sherred

Head of Content

Writesearcher with 10+ years’ experience within legal information services, plus a lengthy history within adult education and learning

  • Superpower: Able to turn his hand to pretty much anything
  • Relaxes by: Reading
  • Kryptonite: Being taken for granted
  • Will save humanity by: Calmly reasoning with those causing all the trouble

Beth Pipe

Head of Learning & Development

Writer and author with over 25 years’ experience in L&D, including 15 years with law firms

  • Superpower: Thrives on chaos
  • Relaxes by: Being creative or being outdoors – occasionally both.
  • Kryptonite: Routine
  • Will save humanity by: Ditching the rulebook and doing something completely random

Jack Constant

Director of Sales

Law graduate who has pursued a successful 10+ year career in B2B and B2C sales

  • Superpower: Can talk his way out of anything
  • Relaxes by: Watching rugby and spending time with family
  • Kryptonite: Excessive ambiguity
  • Will save humanity by: Knowing precisely the right person in his network to talk to

Claire Johnson

Director of Customer Success

Experienced leader with 10+ years’ background in centre management, recruitment and more – she brings a wealth of expertise to the table

  • Superpower: Attention to detail and utilising her psychology degree to read your mind!
  • Relaxes by: Walking her miniature sausage dog, yoga or reading
  • Kryptonite: Shopping – she can’t resist that sale item!
  • Will save humanity by: Doing everything she can for TPA’s customers

Amber Whitlock

Customer Success Manager

Has worked closely with customers for many years, gaining a great understanding of their needs and expectations along the way

  • Superpower: Patience and understanding
  • Relaxes by: Watching reality TV
  • Kryptonite: Unrealistic time pressures and constraints
  • Will save humanity by: Proposing sensible and reasonable solutions to resolve any issues

Kathryn Wilson

Sub Editor

Newspaper and magazine journalist with a career spent writing and subbing – anything from interviewing a CEO on a rotating musical waterbed to crafting headlines about asset management and investment banking

  • Superpower: Making things better without anyone understanding how she did it
  • Relaxes by: Checking into a spa hotel (in her dreams)
  • Kryptonite: Crumbs on the kitchen surfaces
  • Will save humanity by: Researching the hell out of the threat

Samantha Campbell

Admin Ninja

Specialist in supporting businesses to get them where they want to be

  • Superpower: Organising everything
  • Relaxes by: Gardening
  • Kryptonite: A mile of mess!
  • Will save humanity by: Putting a process in place

Debbie Quinn

Content Support

An entrepreneur who has owned and run restaurants, managed an artisan market, and excels at taking on new challenges

  • Superpower: A positive force of nature
  • Relaxes by: Baking
  • Kryptonite: Boredom
  • Will save humanity by: Feeding the alien overlords delicious chocolate brownies so they forget about invading earth