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Welcome to the APM Women in Project Management SIG newsletter Autumn 2020

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APM Women in Project Management SIG – Autumn newsletter 2020


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Newsletter contents

  1. Welcome message from our chair
  2. Committee elections – new committee members
  3. Events update
  4. Current research
  5. APM WiPM SIG virtual conference 2020
  6. A journey to Chartership
  7. Books and links we like
  8. And finally...

1. Welcome message from our chair

Welcome to this latest newsletter from the WiPM SIG. Looking back on the year so far, it hasn’t gone exactly as planned. COVID has changed many of our plans and how we do our events. However, as project managers, we should be used to managing change and uncertainty. The WiPM SIG put on a record number of International Women’s Day events in March. Some of them had to be changed at the last minute to virtual events but the teams involved handled that in their stride.

The conference team have also had their work cut out for them but they have done an amazing job in bringing together an exciting online programme. I really hope to e-meet many of you during the conference events. There are a number of speakers spread out over the week covering a range of different topics.

The ChPP mentoring scheme has been ongoing over the summer and some of our first mentees have put in, or are about to put in, their Chartership submission. Good luck to you all. It will be great to see more female ChPPs. Hopefully Marion and Sarah’s story on their journey to Chartership in this newsletter will inspire more people to apply.

The recent elections for the SIG committee have seen a few changes in the APM WiPM SIG committee. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the team from last year, you did an amazing job in difficult circumstances. I would also like to welcome the new committee members to the team.

Finally, I hope that you enjoy the conference and have a happy and healthy remainder of 2020.


Vicki Griffiths
APM WiPM SIG chair

2. Committee elections – new committee members

Following nominations and elections earlier in the month, we are pleased to introduce our new committee members:

  • Petula Allison
  • Carol Bell
  • Briony Bragg
  • Estelle Detrembleur
  • Olubukola Feyisetan
  • Vicki Griffiths
  • Elizabeth Jones
  • Annie Maingard
  • Sabrina Marnham
  • Anita Phagura
  • Kellie Walsh

3. Events update

Earlier this year members of the WiPM committee set up, and participated in a series of events around the UK to celebrate International Women’s Day which was on Sunday 8 March with the theme #EachforEqual. Events showcased around the UK with different focuses.

London Southbank hosted a women in project management evening roundtable where several WiPM members discussed and shared their experiences of working in the industry.

E for #EachforEqual

Please check the events section of APM website for all upcoming event listings.

4. Current research 

These past couple of months have seen a host of research activity happening with particular focus on the impacts of COVID-19 in the professional workplace. Summarised here are some links to some interesting studies currently happening:

5. APM WiPM SIG virtual conference 2020

The APM Women in Project Management conference will run virtually in 2020 and will be part of APM’s 'Think Differently: redefining diversity in projects', sponsored by Fujitsu, from Monday 21 September. The week aims to promote diversity of thought, creative problem-solving and new ways of working, to enable businesses and individuals to deliver ever better benefits to society through projects. Thursday 24 September will be dedicated to thinking differently about women in project management.

Five key takeaways from last year’s conference:

  1. Diversity comes in many forms – it’s how we think, as well as how we look
  2. We all have it in us to be resilient – when the situation seems impossible, know that you can bounce back
  3. Stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing – channelled in the right way, it can prepare us to do our best
  4. We should all embrace who we are in the workplace – it’s important to make your voice heard
  5. Visualise your goals, and focus on achieving them – you’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish

The event will take place online, with different themes being explored each day through live sessions delivered by handpicked speakers, sharing a wealth of creative ideas, experiences and practical tools. In addition, there will be virtual networking sessions for project professionals of all backgrounds and experience levels and a virtual exhibition area where delegates can interact with sponsors.

Find out more and book your place.

6. A journey to Chartership 

Along the way we have been sharing people’s journeys to Chartership status. In this edition we hear from Marion Thomas, Director of Extraordinary Project Management and Sarah Walton, Co-Director of Extraordinary Project Management. 

Reflections on applying to become a Chartered Project Professional - written by Sarah Walton

Over coffee one day in mid-June, Marion had one of her ‘bright ideas’ and announced that she thought we should both apply to become APM Chartered Project Professionals (ChPP). She then revealed that the deadline for this round of applications was Sunday 5 July.

I know we both work well to deadlines (what project manager doesn’t?) but could we really turn around good applications in less than three weeks and was now the right time to apply?

So my first reflection was ‘Why do it?’ I have been a successful project manager for over 30 years without any formal qualification and without feeling the need to have one. But creating our legacy project, Extraordinary Project Management, has made formal recognition of my project management skills seem more necessary. So that’s a good rational reason for applying. But, in my experience, doing something because it is a good idea is not sufficient to carry you through when the going gets tough. So I dug a little deeper and found that my passion for applying lies not in proving my own worth, but in making project management a recognised profession that people understand and value.

I started my working life as an accountant. Working as a project manager does not have the same authority as being a qualified accountant. Too often sponsors think that if you are a technical expert you can also be a project manager. In some cases it works, but I want the skills of project management to be recognised and valued and I see the Chartered Project Professional as a good step to making this happen.

So my motivation for applying is not that I need to, but that I want to, because the more practising project managers that become Chartered, the quicker the standard will come to be recognised and valued.

OK so having committed to the concept of applying what exactly did we need to do? There are three different routes, one of which (route 3) is designed for experienced project professionals who do not have a recognised assessment but do meet the eligibility criteria to apply. No exams are required just the ability to demonstrate that you can actually manage a complex project. This route requires completion of a written submission followed by an interview.

I found the written submission both daunting and useful.

Once I had read all the instructions, panicked (I hate filling in forms) and convinced myself that I could never demonstrate all the required competencies, I gave myself a good talking to and settled down to the task with the mind-set that if I couldn’t demonstrate the competencies with 30 years’ experience then the process must be flawed!

Step one, pick up to four projects – you can’t just ramble on about all the great things you have done over your career; you are restricted to a maximum of four projects. The APM does provide a nifty little spreadsheet tool to help you identify which competencies you can demonstrate against each project 'The project management matrix tool' – of course I didn’t find the tool until I had completed the submission, but I was pleased to find that my process was basically the same as theirs.

Once you have selected up to four potential projects you have to decide which specific criteria within the competencies you are going to demonstrate. For each competency (12 in all) you have to decide a minimum of four criteria you are going to cover.

Now comes the really challenging bit – writing the submission, because you only have 250 words for each competency and 500 words to describe each project. It is an iterative process of deciding what you want to say, checking that you have demonstrated the required competencies and keeping it all within the word count.

My advice is, write freely and then edit – significantly!

But here is the surprise - after I had tamed my initial panic by actually starting to write I really quite enjoyed the process. I rediscovered some old friends in the form of projects that I was proud of, I relived some of the challenges and realised how much good work I had done in order to achieve successful results. As project managers we often find ourselves lurching from one issue to the next and it is easier to focus on what we haven’t achieved rather than acknowledge and celebrate everything that is working well.

One thing that worked well during the process was that Marion and I were doing it together. When one of us faltered the other one was there. Without that help, support and encouragement neither of us would have met the deadline – so however good you are there are always times when you need to ask for help – it’s easy to stand alone as a project manager, but we are all so much more powerful when we stand together.

And here is Marion Thomas’s shared account of her journey:

You will have read in Sarah Walton’s experience above about applying for her ChPP that we set about this venture together. We had been watching the APM develop and launch the chartership and were cheering from the sidelines as the early ChPPs were being announced. Whilst we are both very experienced, each with 30 years contracting across a wide range of projects in varied industries, we looked on in awe at the eminent ChPPs being celebrated every few months and wondered if we were good enough!

Having Sarah as my ‘buddy’ going on the journey with me made a massive difference. There are a lot of words to write and, most importantly, there is a lot of editing to be done to ensure that your projects are described well so that the meagre word count available to showcase your competencies can do just that. 250 words per competency feels so few; use the words well. That said, it is a great constraint to have and actually helps you focus. Sarah helped pull me over the line. Some of you will know that at the time I was drafting my submission I was also full-time caring for my husband who had MND. Concentrating on both was challenging.

We both managed to have our interviews on the same day up in Manchester. We both live south of London so it was a bit of a hike but it gave us the excuse to catch up with some brilliant people from our network who we rarely see. We had joined the APM webinars about the ChPP process but it still felt like we weren’t really sure what to expect. I had been told who my interviewers were and had done a sneaky stalk on LinkedIn in advance. They certainly knew their stuff and I arrived holding them in high regard. They worked really well together and endeavoured to put me at my ease and the questions were well formed. In my case I was asked for more detail about some of the competencies I had written about and this was then followed by technical questions about the same subject. The technical questions are straightforward but it was clear that the interviewers are looking for specific responses. At times I felt I wasn’t quite giving them what they wanted despite their encouragement. I think I would have preferred to answer the technical questions first as I was deep in the weeds answering questions about the competences and found it hard to step back up to a simpler technical level. To give an example, we were speaking about change control and it took me what seemed like ages to realise the answer being sought was simply a change control log. I would never run a project without a change control log of course but the answer was so simple I didn’t see it at first.

Well, Sarah and I travelled back on the train convinced we were failures. She was even worse than me but, to be fair, she was feeling under the weather on the day of the interviews. We both suffer from imposter syndrome, probably like 70% of the population does, but we do celebrate that this makes us better project managers.

We got our results the day before the WiPM conference. There was a lot of excited squeaking and tears of relief too. This really mattered to us. We hadn’t realised how much it mattered to us. We had had the conversation many times that went something like, “Well if we can’t get this with all our experience then who can?” but our emotional brain certainly over-rode our logic brain. Next day we were on our Extraordinary Project Management stand at WiPM and Adeline Daly came over to see us. She too had heard that she achieved ChPP status the day before and we had been congratulating one another on LinkedIn. She admitted she had shed a tear of relief and joy when she had received her result. Well, if the great Adeline Daly did so (we so admire her and all the work she has done for the APM) then it is OK if our imposters decided to show up too and left us with our faces leaking.....just a bit. 

 Marion Thomas of Extraordinary Project Management

7. Books and links we like

Also if you have experienced a lot of change perhaps check this out for your next read:

8. And finally...

Want to join the SIG as a volunteer? Get in touch!
Let us know via twitter: @apmwipmsig #apmwipm #WiPM
Contribute on LinkedIn

Thank you to all those who contributed to this edition. We look forward to hearing your ideas and suggestions for our next newsletter. If you would like to volunteer your time to support our activities and work with a group of like-minded professionals to shape the future of our profession.

You can get in touch through the above channels.

Sara Hajikazemi and Annie Maingard
APM WiPM SIG committee member newsletter co-editors



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