IPMA 2014 – Innovation through Dialog

While I have a lot of readers who are in Europe – thank you for reading! – I know that many of my readers are here in the USA and always looking for a good reason to get out of the country.  I also know that some of you are members of the International Project Management Association.  So if you are a Project Manager and need a great way to improve your skills while seeing a great city, you should be aware of the upcoming 28th IPMA World Congress which is being held from September 29th to October 1st in the City of Rotterdam, the Netherlands.  It is going to have a great set of speakers (12 keynoters and 120 Expert speakers) as well as a wonderful program.

This year’s theme is “Innovation through Dialog” and the conference will focus on sharing, networking and interacting.  If you are like me and have many years of managing people and projects, you are always looking for good places to share best practices and learn new tricks of the trade.  The sponsors include many familiar companies including Microsoft but there are other interesting companies like Schiphol Group who manages airports and Dirigentem who provide project management services out of the Netherlands.  And if you are looking for new tools to manage those Agile projects check out this Projectplace who is also a sponsor.

As far as the program, it is very full!  The tracks for the program have something for everyone – here is the preliminary list of session topic streams:

If you can spare the time and expense to get to the conference I think it is one of those great opportunities to learn and meet people that will influence the way you approach projects in the future.  Some of the speakers that will be exciting to hear are Dr. Dagmar Zuchi, Philippe Brun, Hans Bol, Peter Scheffel, and Maura Launchbury.  Check out their experience and see what they plan to share at the conference.

If you get to go, please leave your thoughts about the conference as a comment – or if you would like to write a guest post about the event – please contact me.


Project Managers – changing jobs


“The time has come the Walrus said to talk of many things.” If you remember that Lewis Carroll poem, you know that the story did not turn out so well for the oysters who failed to think through and prepare for their new opportunity.  It is a new year and many of you are considering changes in both your personal and professional life.  There are several reasons a project manager may be looking to make a job change – projects complete, organizations downsize or career advancement stalls. So, what are good ways to prepare for and succeed at changing jobs and organizations?

First, let me say the obvious. You do not start career planning in a crisis. Even as you work hard to meet the goals of your current organization and successfully complete assigned projects, you should also consider what skills you need in the future and work on getting them. Like what? In May 2009, I talked about job change from the perspective of a hiring organization, “Interviewing tips for project managers.” Looking at the skills an organization desires and wants in its project managers is a place to start your thinking about needed skills and experience. Here are some more thoughts:

Technical skills
The technical skills required of a project manager differ from those of individual contributors. Yes, you need background and general knowledge about technical approaches to solving problems. However, you also need project management skills that use tools to support project organization, control and reporting. You should know how to develop realistic cost and schedule estimates. You also need to understand how return-on-investment is assessed from an organizational perspective.

Soft skills
Project management is about people and the job title “PM” has the word manager in it. Good managers understand how to communicate, listen to and work effectively with a range of stakeholders. People skills — or the lack of — determine your success and desirability as a project manager. Placing yourself into situations that require strong people skills, such as managing remote teams, mentoring and coaching, and working with users demonstrates a commitment to improving your soft skills. Being able to apply a variety of techniques tailored to different individual team members processing styles and learning to give and receive feedback helps hone your people skills.

Outside of direct project management experience, there are activities you can seek out that help refine sought-after PM skills.

  • Leadership – within your organization, spearhead non-work efforts by leading committees, setting up community efforts or supporting corporate initiatives. Change management and quality initiatives provide excellent opportunities to develop leadership skills. Within your community, you can practice leadership by organizing and supporting projects of personal interest.
  • Constant Learning – through classes, seminars and professional organizations.
  • Coaching and mentoring – through volunteer activities in sports and community organizations.
  • Negotiating – seek out training or working on projects with multiple stakeholders. Take the lead in reaching compromise and solving problems.
  • Public speaking – the fear of this activity is so common, it even has a name, “glossophobia.” You become more skilled and comfortable with public speaking by practicing.

Obtaining Project Manager Professional (PMP) certification shows prospective employers that you understand project management basics and believe that project management is a profession, not just a job. In a future job search, you may find that companies expect a PMP to be considered for a project manager’s position.  However, many other certifications may be just as beneficial to you depending on the industry or organization you are either currently with or seeking to move to.  A few examples are:

If you have other suggestions or observations about making a job change in project management, please share.

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