According to the Project Management Institute, a PMI professional certification ensures that you’re ready to meet the demands of projects and employers across the globe. Developed by practitioners, this certification is based on rigorous standards and ongoing research to meet the real-world needs of organizations. With a PMI certification behind your name, you can work in virtually any industry, anywhere in the world, and with any project management methodology. As of September 19th, 2020, Hannah Cooper, Project Manager in Grand Prairie, earned her certification. Below, Hannah fills us in on why she decided to attain this certification and how she plans to apply it.
1. How long have you worked at LSC?
I have been working at LSC since May 2017. I started as a Healthcare Account Manager and transitioned to the Project Manager (PM) role in October 2018.
2. What do you like most about your role at LSC?
As stressful as it can be, I like being able to problem-solve. Issues come up daily, and each one is a new situation that my team will have to approach with creative solutions as well as standard processes. I also enjoy consistently looking for ways to improve as a Project Manager, whether that means refining my documentation habits or discovering more effective ways to approach typical PM procedures.
3. What made you want to attain this certification?
When I accepted the position of PM, pursuing my PMP certification was one of the educational recommendations. As I started research into it and began taking courses in 2019, I found that I greatly enjoyed the knowledge skills involved. As an analytical person, organizational order and best practices are of great interest, and the PMP encouraged me to pursue those interests further.
4. How long did it take you to complete and what did you do to prepare for it?
With a 4-year college degree, the PMP certification requires 36 months practicum leading projects and 35 credit hours of PM education. I attended my PMP classes through the University of Texas in Arlington (UTA) Division for Enterprise Development. I completed my initial courses and was prepared to take an exam prep class in April, but COVID-19 delayed the process and pushed the course to August. To prepare for the exam, I had to read and memorize the Project Management Book Of Knowledge (PMBOK) and the Rita Mulcahy PMP Prep Book, both of which are 500+ pages, as thoroughly as possible. They are extensive guides with numerous mini tests and exercises to complete and tips and tricks to remember. My professor at UTA also provided the students with slideshows, interactive online quizzes, flashcards, and other aids to study.
5. Was it a difficult certification to attain? If so, what made it so rigorous?
Between working full-time and taking MBA classes online since May, it did not always leave much time to prep as I got closer to my exam date. There was also the pressure to complete the exam before December because the curriculum will change to incorporate more Scrum/Agile methodology, which will require more coursework. It is definitely a rigorous exam due to the amount of information you must memorize. To compound that challenging aspect, most exam questions are situational and look for the “best” answer. If a PM relies on their real-life experience vs. PMI-recommended choices, it is highly likely they will select an incorrect answer. Many of the questions ask for the order of events, and it can be difficult remembering each process sequentially – especially during a 4-hour, 200-question exam.
6. How does it feel to finally have this certification?
It feels like a massive burden is off my shoulders. One of the first people I informed when I got my results was my professor; she was a fantastic instructor that definitely helped me pass this difficult milestone! I had been overwhelmed and stressed with the thought of possibly not succeeding. It is a marathon to be prepared to take the exam, and it is not an inexpensive pursuit. I’m extremely grateful for the tuition reimbursement LSC offers for professional development purposes.
7. What do you plan to accomplish now that you have furthered your competency of project management through this certification?
I have been actively monitoring and identifying ways I can improve my approach to project management to further align with the education received in this certification process. I plan to continue finding areas of improvement where I can apply the processes and mentality discussed in this methodology. In addition to my usual project management duties, I’m involved with the Quality Management Subcommittee and the Process Alignment Team, and I’m looking forward to applying these skills to those committees as well.
8. Do you plan on adding any further certifications in the future? If so, why?
I am currently pursuing my Masters of Business Administration (MBA) and plan to graduate in 2023. I want to continue learning about business in a general sense and understanding how the Project Manager role plays a part in the big picture. I would also like to apply the knowledge I gain towards internal quality improvement and innovative strategy. Beyond this additional degree, I’ve researched other certifications like Lean Six Sigma but do not have plans to pursue any others at this time.
-Patience Ekpo, Marketing Coordinator