What is Project Management and how can you become a Project Management Professional?

Clients in our Pre and Post Canadian Workplace Training (CWT) and Employment Skills Training (EST) programs recently attended a fantastic 2-day workshop on Project Management Professionals and the benefits of accreditation. Their engaging presenter was Mr. Paulo Camargo, PMP, who shared his own story of immigration from Brazil and who was able to secure employment in under 1 month due to his project management experience. Mr. Camargo is the Director of Outreach for the Project Management Institute, and currently works for the City of Calgary. His co-presenter was Mr. Luis Saviolli Moura, also a project management consultant for the City of Calgary.

Many of CIES’ clients are professionals in their own careers, with various attendees in the audience holding degrees in biomedical engineering, law, and information technology. All were completely engaged in the presentation, and came away with a heightened understanding of project management, including how to receive Project Management Professional (PMP) designation, and the benefits of membership with the Project Management Institute.

As per the Project Management Institute (PMI) website:

“More specifically, what is a project? It’s a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.

A project is temporary in that it has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources.

The development of software for an improved business process, the construction of a building or bridge, the relief effort after a natural disaster, the expansion of sales into a new geographic market — all are projects.

And all must be expertly managed to deliver the on-time, on-budget results, learning and integration that organizations need.

Project management, then, is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.”

According to knowledgehut.com, the following qualities are essential to being a great project manager:

They inspire a shared vision

Good project managers always have a vision for the end of the project, and can inspire others to make this vision reality

They are good communicators

Project managers rely on good relationships to do their job effectively. If you are able to communicate with people at all levels of your organization, then you are practicing good communication.

They practice integrity

Set a good example for your team, inspiring through your words and actions, and together you can achieve anything.

They possess leadership skills

Because project managers are responsible for all facets of a particular project, they need to be able to work with many different kinds of people at once to achieve their results.

They are good decision makers

How many decisions have to be made on company projects around the world everyday? They won’t always be easy, but project managers will face lots of them – it’s better to know how to make effective and efficient decisions.

They are experts at delegating tasks

No project manager can do everything by themselves – knowing how to share work with others is essential to your success (and sanity!)

They are well-organized

Keeping track of so many moving parts in a project requires a high level of organization to keep operations running smoothly and efficiently.

They are proficient

Project Managers need to know everything possible about the industry they work in – making them experts in their field.

They are great problem solvers

Just like decision-making, problem-solving is hugely important in project management. Naturally analytical thinkers thrive in project management.

They believe in collaboration

Being a good project manager means being the leader of a team. Knowing the strengths of your coworkers and trusting their ability to complete the job  is an important part of project management.

Project management is a growing field, and one of its benefits is that it can be applied across industries. Many Project Mangers end up in the field through a process that looks like this:

Early in their career, many managers contributed to larger projects in a given industry as project assistants, coordinators, or management support.

Candidates then moved on to more senior positions, such as project management, project leadership, or implementation management.

Finally, once employees reach a senior project management role, more opportunities arise in management consultancy, portfolio management, or as director of projects for a more prestigious firm.

Educational programs in project management are plentiful:

Bachelor’s Degree in Project Management or similar:

Many students complete a bachelor’s degree in project management or organizational management.  You might also earn a degree in marketing, engineering, finance, or information technology, and then apply that background to further studies in a master’s program.

Graduate certificates in Project Management:

Certificate programs are usually intended for those who already have bachelor’s degrees, but are quicker to complete than Master’s programs.

Master’s Degree in Project Management:

A Master’s Degree can be used to specialize in project management, even if your bachelor’s degree is in a different field. You’ll study advanced project management topics such as administration, budgeting, and strategy.

Project Management Professional (PMP) certification:

Once you have a few years of project management experience, you may be eligible to study for project management certification with the Project Management Institute. If you have a bachelor’s degree and 4,500 hours of work experience in project management, you can take the 200-question multiple choice test and receive your PMP designation.

Not all of these educational steps are necessary to begin a career in project management – many project management professionals get started with only a Bachelor’s Degree and return for more schooling throughout their careers.

A number of schools in Calgary provide courses in project management, including the following:

SAIT: The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology provides a variety of project management programs, including a Bachelor of Science in Construction Project Management, Project Management Basics, and an Applied Project Management Certificate of Achievement.

Mount Royal University: Mount Royal provides exam preparation courses for your Project Management Professional exam, as well as a Project Management Extension Certificate.

University of Calgary: The University of Calgary offers a Project Management Fundamentals Certificate through its Continuing Education program.

For more information on project management, visit the Project Management Institute website.