As PMI turns 50 I chronicle my journey as a project manager

by Sylvie Edwards

Have you been on the PMI website lately? If so, you would have seen the countdown clock, counting down the days, hours and minutes to PMI celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. 50 seems like a long time but is it really?  Let us start by putting this milestone within my perspective of having been a project manager with the organization for quite some time (I will tell you how long in a minute).

I was barely 5 years old when the PMI original five founders (J. Gordon Davis, Edward A. Engman, James R. Snyder, Susan C. Gallagher, and Eric Jenett) got together for what would be the deciding dinner in Philadelphia, resulting in the first-ever meeting on October 9th, 1969 to be followed with the drawing of the incorporation papers. Voila! A piece of project management history was created out of the basic need for food, community and above all sharing of knowledge. Talk about hitting the Maslow triangle in one big swoop!

I was a short distance away in Montreal, but I had just started kindergarten in September and project management was not really something I knew anything about, just yet. For that matter, not a lot of people really knew what project management was about until that fateful October when these five individuals decided to join and unite their knowledge and efforts towards what was to become one of the largest Project Management Associations in the World.

PMI has now grown over the 50 years to have more than 500,000 members on record in over 208 Countries (stats from PMI Facts ending November 2018). According to their 2017 strategic plan, the organization delivers services to over 3 million people worldwide with the support of over 10,000 dedicated volunteers. This growth and development has not been restricted to members, chapters and countries but also the number of certifications which over the years has grown from the single PMP certification first offered in the early 1980s to seven certifications now developed to meet different stages of individual development within project management. The PMP remains the most attractive and attended but to it we now add: CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management), PMI-RMP (PMI Risk Management Professional), PMI-SMP (PMI Scheduling Professional), PgMP (Program Management Professional), PfMP (Portfolio Management Professional), PMI-ACP (PMI Agile Certified Professional) and most recently PMI-BPM (PMI Business Processes Professional).

What remains true to this day is that at its core PMI is a volunteer organization focused on project management. Historically, PMI has positioned itself as a membership-focused professional association responsible for the development of professional certifications, educational programs, thought leadership, volunteer programs, advocacy, and networking opportunities. These offerings are a critical component of PMI’s brand and hopefully will continue to be a part of the PMI experience for the next 50+ years. (PMI Strategic Plan – 2017)

I have been involved with PMI and a member since 2001 although I was doing project management work before this time not really aware of how I could add to my career by being a member. I actually joined in 2001, on the advice of a good friend, as I was about to start the process of becoming a PMP and it made sense to get into the whole “system” before it happened. I actually ended up certifying in May 2002 as that year the PMBOK Guide changed, and some glitch in the software delayed the exam from being delivered through the exam centers. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was part of a study group of five individuals, and we literally quizzed each other to death before the exam, and all wrote successfully as soon as it became available.

I have remained a member to this day, just renewed my membership this past week and I find value in that membership as well as a sense of belonging to a community when I am able to attend chapter meetings. I was a volunteer myself, and along the way, I contributed to the development of a local chapter which grew from its inception in 2002 to now being close to the 1,000-members. I am proud to have been the one that developed the first PMP class for the Chapter, to have served on its Board of Directors for more than 12 years and to have been instrumental in developing the mentoring program which still remains to this day. It does feel a bit like “home” every time I attend a meeting, I have so many friends, acquaintances and people that I have helped to grow their project knowledge over the years.

My journey in project management has been full of challenges, discoveries and I am glad that I am still affiliated with PMI. I don’t really know what my path would have been if that organization was not there. I truly believe that I would be in a much different place.

As for PMI, I wish it well. I will continue to support it through my being a champion for project management including training and teaching a new generation of individuals to recognize the value that project management brings into an organization. Who knows how much longer PMI will be around, all I know is that I will continue my journey alongside it.


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