What’s the Story Behind Your PMI Credential?

Long-time Voices on Project Manager blogger Conrado Morlan, PMP, PgMP shares how attaining a PMP credential helped his career.

Project management practitioners like me, with more than 20 years of experience, learned about PMI and PMP® credential in ways much different from today. 

My first exposure to PMI, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) and a PMP credential was in the late 1990s. It was during a training program to attain the PMP credential — and in Spanish, no less — at the company I worked for in Puebla, Mexico. 

My colleagues and I questioned the benefits of this credential, which at the time was not well known in Mexico. In addition, the written exam was in English. That did not make the credential more attractive. 

I left the company before taking the exam. Yet in my new job, I discovered that the knowledge I acquired in the training program was very helpful. Without prompting, I used some of the best practices in the PMBOK® Guide, especially those related to risk and project integration.

As I progressed professionally, I moved to the United States and learned more about PMI chapters and global congresses. I became a member and a regular at chapter meetings. 

By this point — even with eight years of practical experience in project management and applying best practices in my work — I realized I needed to take it to the next level: earning a PMI credential. Sure, professional experience and on-the-job-training are important — but I was only recognized for that at my company. Attaining the PMP credential meant that the world's largest association for the profession would validate my professional experience. 

In the lead-up to my exam, I was traveling intensively for my job, and the PMBOK® Guide became my travel companion. While abroad, I visited local PMI chapters and learned about running projects in different settings. The interaction with members of PMI chapters in other countries helped me tweak my project plan. The combination of studying and exchanging ideas with practitioners internationally were fundamental for my credential exam preparation.

In December 2005, I attained my PMP credential — and I have never regretted it. Achieving the credential brought me immediate benefits. After I notified my manager, he awarded me an incentive bonus. A week later, I was selected to lead one of the most challenging projects of the portfolio. 

Over the years, I also became more involved in my community, volunteering at events such as PMI item-writing sessions. In 2011, I was honored with the 2011 PMI Distinguished Contribution Award. I'm not saying that getting my PMP credential awarded me recognition and experience overnight, but I needed it to get to the next stage in my career.

I still find project professionals who think the same as my colleagues and I did in the late 1990s. The most frequent questions I hear are: Why should I earn a credential, if I am a senior project manager with many years of experience? How does a certification or credential make me different? 

To these, I respond with a question (Why not step out of your comfort zone?) and a thought (What made you successful in the past will not make you successful today).

The truth is that, just like doctors, project professionals need to update their knowledge to face the challenges in today's project world. A PMP credential and PMI membership give you access to share and acquire project management knowledge, stay up to speed on new trends, and join a group of global volunteers contributing toward the advancement of the profession. Most importantly, a credential helps you reach the next step in your professional life. At least that is what it has done for me.

How did getting a PMP help your career? Are you still considering getting one, and why?

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