This paper uses health service manager judgements to discuss educational approaches and environments suitable to the development of required competencies and reports barriers to and opportunities for competency development. Practising managers were found to recognise and value the educational contributions made by academic programs, health service organisations and professional associations to the development of professional competence. Academic programs are seen as the appropriate vehicle for developing conceptual, analytical, problem solving and communication competencies that require considerable maturation time. Health service organisations are seen to have a key role in promoting professional competence through maintaining a culture conductive to encouraging managers to undertake further education, supported by appropriate system strategies. Professional associations are regarded as appropriate sponsors for promoting knowledge and skill update in relation to current issues in management through short courses, conferences and timely educational meetings. Wherever possible, collaboration between professional and educational organisations was seen to be desirable.