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Why mentoring and volunteering are high on project professionals’ agenda this year

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In an earlier article, I shared some of the best answers we received from Project journal readers in spring 2022 as part of our ‘Project Me’ series.

‘Project Me’ canvasses the community’s views on a range of hot topics, from project ‘hacks’ to tips to enhance your professional development.

This article shares some of the best comments we’ve received over the past month. There has been a strong focus on volunteering and mentoring in the early stages of 2022, it seems – with APM launching its own Mentoring Programme in January.

Elsewhere, our reader interactions show that project professionals continue to value training and education opportunities to boost their career.

Giving back through mentoring

Jonathan Binks, a Senior Project Manager at consulting and digital services company Sopra Steria, told Project he has been “pleasantly surprised” by how much he has learned from his recent experience of becoming a mentor.

“With many years’ experience in project management,” Binks explained, “I wanted to give something back to the community and colleagues that I work with – especially new graduates. However, I soon found that I was getting as much benefit from the experience as the people I was mentoring.

“I would recommend anyone to consider being a mentor, as it resets the lens through which you view yourself and the job that you do. By understanding and helping someone else with their career, it also helps you to be more reflective on your own – making it easier to recognise and appreciate your own accomplishments.”

Reshika Gordon-Tamang, Senior P3M Consultant at DAS Ltd, has also found solace in mentoring during the pandemic.

“The past two years have been tough for everyone,” she said, “but one thing that has really brought positivity to my life is mentoring – both being mentored and being a mentor myself. Life is all about learning and broadening your knowledge. My take on how to improve your project career skills this year would be to find a mentor or become one.”

Look beyond your comfort zone

In addition to traditional mentoring arrangements, the idea of reverse mentoring – where younger or early-career employees share their skills with senior colleagues – is gaining traction.

“One of the many ways to improve professionalism and understanding in project management is reverse mentoring,” wrote Sheilina Somani, Senior Programme Manager/Chartership Assessor at Positively Project Management. “This provides an opportunity to gain feedback from those around us.

“It is fascinating to gain insights into other perceptions. The time invested in discussing aspects of project management stimulates thinking, listening and reflection – all key project management skills. As we gain experience and confidence, we may not notice new approaches and techniques being deployed. While there’s comfort in familiarity, there are excitement and learning opportunities in the feedback and techniques of others.”

The value of community

Project readers also told us they are keen to further immerse themselves in the world of project and programme management in two ways: volunteering and training.

Check out the APM Volunteer Achievement Awards 2022 now

Dr Roni Ajao, Executive Director at MRL Public Sector Consultants, told us of her continued commitment to “attend and exchange ideas in SIGs and continue to volunteer by sharing my knowledge and experiences in the field to diverse groups, ie women and ethnic minorities.”

She continued: “A key resolution I made for 2022 was to attend a course in project management as an opportunity to refresh my skills, learn and to gain a deeper understanding with regards to recent trends. For example, the pandemic resulted in the use of technology to manage programmes and projects remotely, which requires new and different types of skill sets in comparison to traditional on-site delivery.”

Project Consultant Tom Barnardiston, meanwhile, told us: “This year I am working towards achieving my ChPP and I am currently preparing for the interview stage and looking to get involved in the APM London Branch.

“After joining APM a few years ago, I was looking at training providers to help me with the rigorous ChPP application process through Route 3. I got in touch with Marion Thomas and she provided me with comprehensive information, taking me through the ExtraordinaryPM learning hub, and she has held weekly calls to provide mentoring throughout.”

For Emma-Ruth Arnaz-Pemberton, Director of Consulting Services at Wellingtone, the boom in self-learning is one of the positive aspects of the ‘new normal’.

“Over the past two years, the online learning industry has seen a huge boom,” she said. “The result of this drive towards self-development means that many are returning to ‘normal work’ with newfound skills. Everyone knows that a course doesn’t make a professional, so the focus now is on developing the theory into practice.

“So, if you are still looking to develop your skills, find the right course for you and then get to developing it through your day-to-day work, online networks and peer groups.”

What are your current priorities and ambitions for your career? Share them with the Project journal team and in the comments below.

Interested in becoming a ChPP? Find out more about APM’s Chartered Standard here.


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