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My Journey to Getting the PMP Designation, by Mujtaba Mirza, PMP


Why did you choose to pursue  project management certification? It is my strong belief that one should constantly seek to improve their knowledge and skills, at a personal and professional level. PMP certification offers me that opportunity for growth professionally. It not only is a demonstration that I possess the knowledge of these project management principles but also a recognition of my experience as a project manager. A final reason for me was the competitive drive to stand out from the crowd and be recognized.


Why did you choose that certification? PMP is the benchmark project management certification around the world. It is recognized worldwide, in multiple industries and a variety of fields. The amount of work that goes into developing their Body of Knowledge is extensive and serves as the foundation of international project management best practices and standards. Finally, the ability to connect with a community of PMPs around the world and PMI Chapters was a very strong reason to choose this certification.


What was the process like? The process is quite daunting and not surprisingly it often puts off many individuals who may be thinking of applying. The first part of the process involves completing your education requirement of 35 contact hours along with 4500 to 7500 hours of unique non-overlapping project management experience; these form the core of your application. PMI reviews each application and gives their approval before you can schedule your exam. Once your application is approved, you can then schedule your exam and start your exam prep.


When did you achieve the certification? I wrote my exam on May 13, 2019. As it is in an electronic exam, you find out your result and are awarded the certification status right away.


How can you see applying what you’ve learned to your client work? The framework of project management knowledge and its application are one of the most important things I have learned as part of preparing for the certification. There is a strong focus on managing the scope, schedule and cost – which form the basis of any project that you manage. The same principles apply to client work and client projects. The certification can provide assurance to a client that their projects and operations are in the hands of a certified professional. As you have to be a continuous learner and earn professional development units in order to recertify, you bring new tools and skills to your clients as well.


How does the PMP intersect with the association management industry? One of the best characteristics of the PMI Body of Knowledge and the PMP certification is that is applies across all fields and industries. In the association management sector, we often see small budgets for projects and programs, but the scope may be large with not a lot of time available to deliver. The framework you learn as part the process emphasizes that projects stay within scope, budget and schedule. One of the techniques used is baselining these details so any changes have to go through a formal change process. Another area where it intersects with the association management sector is the emphasis on stakeholder engagement and communication. In our industry, we frequently have to work with not only association boards but also committee chairs, volunteers and members. Effective communication and engaging stakeholders that would be impacted in anyway by a project is an important skill that is critical for any project manager to succeed.


Any tips for those who are about to start the PMP process? PMI has announced that the exam will be undergoing a change in 2020. So if anyone is interested in writing the exam, they should either do it this year or wait till next year to review the latest edition of the Project Management Body of Knowledge.

While there are plenty of resources available online and offline, I highly recommend going to the PMP Subreddit. I found a great community of PMPs who gave me some timely and very helpful advice in preparing for the exam. Ricardo Vargas’ Process Flow video was extremely helpful as well as the mock exams at the Prepcast Simulator.


Mujtaba is a Senior Account Coordinator at Managing Matters with extensive experience in customer service & project management and over 5 years working in not-for-profit association management. His dedication and commitment have always helped him deliver the best customer service to clients. He has always been lauded for his ability to deal with all stakeholders in a courteous and professional manner.


In his spare time, he can be found hitting nicks on the squash court or polishing his photography skills.

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