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Inspiration from US PMI President - Gina Abudi

To inspire you this week, we spoke to Gina Abudi, President of the PMI Massachusetts Bay Chapter Board of Directors – one of the largest in the United States and in the top 6% of all chapters worldwide by size.

As a PMI president, how healthy do you feel the male to female ratio is in the project management community?

“While I don’t have specific numbers to share, I believe the ratio is a bit healthier in the US and in Europe than worldwide overall.

“There was an article in the September 2010 PMI Network that discussed this exact issue.

“The article noted for example, India, which might still be considered in the early stages of project management, and has far fewer females in the profession than males.

“However, I do believe that globally progress is definitely being made.

“As with any profession, women often have to prove themselves, and the project management profession is no different.

“However, thankfully this is not a concern I hear very often in our Mass Bay Chapter – for example, we have a number of women members who work in IT – a field once dominated by males.”

There are over 1,500 PMP certified individuals in your chapter, what value do you feel training provides to people’s career?

“I think we can all agree that training is of value to get your PMP, and, that once you have your PMP the certification provides you a level of credibility and increases your competitive factor when job searching – especially in today’s economy.

“Training focused on the PMP is focused on specifically what you need to know to pass the PMP exam, which is good because that is what potential PMPs are looking for.

“And you’ll want to continue training after receiving your PMP certification, not solely for the PDUs needed to recertify but also to continue to develop your own skills within project management.

“However, in my opinion, the most successful project managers move beyond the technical requirements of project management once they receive their PMP and focus on the critical, or soft skills – such as communications, negotiation, influencing others, etc.”

What are the benefits to a company in investing in project management training for their business?

“Companies that invest in project management training – both from the perspective of getting their employees certified and then, once certified, enabling them to continue to enhance their skills through additional technical and critical skills development see a number of benefits:

  • “Retention of top talent
  • “Individuals better able to help the organisation achieve their strategic goals
  • “Improvement in time to market for products and services
  • “Improvement in projects coming in on time and within budget
  • “Improvement in team work and team leadership overall

“Additionally, for many of my clients at Abudi Consulting Group, LLC, we provide leadership consulting across all levels.

“What you see as a benefit is the ability for individuals to better manage the projects they are assigned while still doing their day jobs.

“Bottom line – project management really encompasses everything we do – we are all managing projects much of the time.”

How did you get into project management?

“I started in project management over 20 years ago, when I happened to just fall into it.

“A company I was working for at the time launched a project to an renovate office space and I questioned how it was being done because it seemed to inconvenience all employees unnecessarily.

“The head of the office literally slapped me on the back and told me to go ahead and run the project – and that started it all.

“My focus these days in project management is not specifically in managing projects but rather in working with executives and boards of directors in how to take a project management approach within the organisation; effectively looking at project management more strategically.

“I see the value in everyone understanding how to manage projects.

“I don’t believe you need to be officially labeled a project manager to benefit from learning how to manage projects – let’s face it, everything we do is effectively a project that we must manage.

“What better way to achieve all of the tasks we have on a regular basis than by taking a project management approach to getting that work done.”

What common issues do you see frequently brought up in the project management community?

“There are a number of issues I hear repeatedly, including:

  • “Difficulty in engaging stakeholders and project team members
  • “Reduced resources to get projects done
  • “Budgets getting smaller and smaller
  • “Lack of alignment of projects to strategy within the organisation

“Mostly though I hear that project managers are struggling with way too many projects to complete overall.

“However, I also see issues around respect.

“I have heard from a number of project managers that they are concerned with what they perceive to be a lack of respect for the work they do within the organisation.

“I find this a very interesting comment because it begs the question – is this the perception mainly of more seasoned project managers who haven’t been able to move up into leadership roles, or the perception of more junior project managers who may feel a sense of no control when they are shuffled from job to job?”

Thanks Gina for a great interview.

Here at the Learning People, we know that our project management students and alumini counteract this concern over respect issues in their team by employing best practice standards, and by being consistent in their role, which ultimately helps a project manager garner respect over time.