They say that "a journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step". Deciding to become chartered was a big decision for me and I was one of the first cohort of Chartered Project Professionals (ChPPs) that were announced on 31 October 2018. Now, just over a year later, there are 1,000 ChPPs. This is an amazing achievement for both the Association for Project Management (APM) and all the individuals that have worked so hard to become chartered.
There is a lot of work involved in writing the project experience summaries and the professional competencies. Having the right support can make all the difference. I spent ages writing, re-writing and polishing my submission until I was happy with what I sent in. I asked my friends, family and colleagues to read through what I had done because, after a while, I became blind to any mistakes in the text or struggled to reduce the number of words in my submission so that I could get in under the word count but still make sense. Having that support was absolutely necessary for me to keep going and finally cross the finish line as a ChPP.
But is all that effort worth it? Oh yes. First of all, it gives the project management profession equal standing with others that have chartered status. I have worked alongside chartered engineers, surveyors and geologists for most of my career. There has been a feeling that anyone can do project management. However, the development of the ChPP standard demonstrates that we are professionals and that we have achieved a high standard in our work. Being chartered also gives my company and their clients the reassurance that I am a safe pair of hands to manage their project. Finally, it gives me a sense of pride and satisfaction knowing that I have achieved this goal in my career.
Last year I joined APM’s Women in Project Management Specific Interest Group (WiPM SIG). Part of our goal is to increase the number of women achieving the different qualifications that APM offers, including ChPP. At the moment there are a grand total of 1,032 ChPPs, of them 15 per cent are female and 85 per cent are male. I for one would love to see the ratio of female to male ChPPs increase. I know many strong and accomplished female project managers and yet many of them feel that they are not ChPP material even though they successfully manage complex projects. Having female role models who have become ChPP can encourage others to realise that they are ready to apply to become chartered.
One of the key things that the APM WiPM SIG wanted to do was to set up a mentoring scheme for women wanting to become chartered. Women are less likely to be offered opportunities to be mentored than men. There are many reasons for this but part of this is due to unconscious bias or fear of accusations of harassment. An easy way to resolve this is for other women to step in and act as mentors. By having women help other women it allows female leaders to grow and develop, which will in turn help reduce the gender pay gap and increase the number of women in senior positions. After a lot of work from the WiPM committee and APM, the mentoring scheme is about to start a six-month pilot.
At present there are about eight mentors and APM is taking the details of people who would like to be mentors or mentees. The aim of the mentors is to help candidates overcome some of the common challenges that people encounter and assist the candidates to showcase their experience and knowledge to the best effect so that they have a strong chance of becoming chartered. I will be one of the mentors on the pilot, casting a critical yet supportive eye over written submissions and providing advice for people taking their interview. Personally, I have found from working with others that I love helping people achieve their potential. I see mentoring as paying forward the support that I got to those who have yet to go through the process.
At the September 2019 WiPM Conference I was one of several ChPPs providing one-to-one support for women who were on the journey to become chartered. Some of the women I spoke to were thinking about taking that first step. They wanted to know ‘am I ready for this? What do I need to do?’ Others were at different stages in their journey and were either writing their submission or preparing for their interview. Again, the questions were on the lines of ‘am I doing the right thing? What do I need to do?’ It was a great thrill for me to be able to support these women through providing advice and reassurance. I am certain that they will all go on to achieve their goal.
Chatting to other project managers at the conference, it was clear that there was a definite appetite for a mentoring scheme to help support people through the ChPP application process. I am really looking forward to working with the first group of mentees in the new mentoring scheme and helping them to take the first step.
If you would like to find out more about mentoring and get involved, please contact volunteers team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 1,000th Chartered Project Professional registered by APM
- The Chartered Project Professional Standard
- Road to chartered series