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Road to Chartered series: Professional responsibilities and obligations 

The case of millennials

A key part of the development of the profession of project management, as it evolves to Chartered status, is the need to embrace the values and energy of the millennial generation. The sixth paper in APM’s “Road to Chartered Series” looks at how millennials can be part of this drive to build a Chartered profession.

This paper, drawn up with the help of Dr Effie Konstantinou of UCL, focuses on of the key issues facing the project management profession and, indeed, the leadership and management of organisations and firms more generally. In a few short years, the millennial generation will constitute the majority of the workforce and will be emerging, if they are not already, as the leaders in their field. Therefore, the themes and values of this group, which Dr Konstantinou identifies so well in this paper, offer two major challenges as we seek to build a project management profession that matches the traditional Chartered professions, both in terms of perception and status.

First, how can the current profession absorb and embrace the best of these ‘millennial’ values into the existing profession to help evolve it. And second, what do we need to do to attract millennials into the profession to participate and influence developments, and not alienate them by carrying on with existing methods or cultures that inadvertently exclude them?

Surely the answer is simple – to build a confident and progressive profession in which we can learn from each other. The journey towards the Chartered profession on which we have embarked needs experience, but also a new infusion of younger professionals who are prepared to challenge, and offer a commitment to life-long learning and ethical considerations as to how project management is conducted.

This paper provides us with food for thought as we consider what elements we need to build our new Chartered professional community. If we are to build a new profession, we need to embrace and include the new flow of diverse talent into our ranks.

The paper considers how the professionalism of the project manager is evolving beyond ‘delivery execution’ skills – and with this comes new requirements of competency, knowledge and ethics if project management is to receive wider recognition as a profession by peers. It focuses on the importance of professionalism and ethics, looking at the impact of the millennial generation and how this can shape the future of the profession and what the profession needs to consider as it embraces the new wave of thinking and approach this generation brings.

Looking into the experiences and life trajectories of millennials the paper notes that millennials from all around the world prefer to:

  • work in networks rather than hierarchies;
  • influence rather than dictate, command and control;
  • innovate with others from across the world through social media;
  • work beyond boundaries and be dynamic – they thrive in uncertainty and change, rather than stability and a structured, fixed approach to work;
  • create value and be involved in all decision-making, rather than executing plans and orders;
  • take an ethical approach to work and professional practice as a means to competitiveness and their professional well-being and development, while working using environmentally sustainable practices.

The paper argues that this is an opportunity for the profession of project management - to trust and support millennials – to create the space in which millennial attitudes and behaviour, which emphasise an ethical approach to work, are trusted and supported, and can become an integral, key part of project management practice, and the design and delivery of projects.

And as the paper goes on to argue “the profession has a key role to play here. And this is to create a space where:

  • the previous generations meet the millennial generation of project management professionals, and one learns from the other;
  • professional practices are shared, discussed, debated and critically evaluated; and
  • professionals can explore and find together the purpose and ‘the why’ behind projects, which will make their work even more meaningful and important”.

About this series

This paper is the sixth in a series of Chartered thought-leadership papers – ‘The Road to Chartered’ – being prepared by APM to help build its capacity as a Chartered body. The series is being published over the 12 months to spring 2018. As this series progresses, it will provide members with insight into how APM will develop and what this will mean for them, and crucially how members can be involved in this evolution. It will also signal to the wider public the intent of the project management profession to play its part in the development of the social and economic well-being of the UK – a contribution that, we believe, has for too long been under-appreciated.

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