I originally titled this story ‘To cert or not to cert, that is the question’.
Whilst writing it, the question emerging was ‘To re-cert or not to re-cert?’
In the end, this was really just about me letting go and moving on, such a cathartic process this writing caper.
Once upon a time, well in 2010 to be exact, I personally did not have any professional certifications, apart from my degree and training either on the job, in house courses or self learning.
At the time I was working as a freelance project manager and had been doing so, with a mixture of business analysis gigs for over 15 years.
The decision to obtain some project management credentials was formed around, what the (tougher) market was seeking from candidates, unable to rely on just people who knew me (past clients), but moreso a burning desire to freshen up and deepen my knowledge and skills.
Looking back now, it strikes me that it was a time I truly started to value lifelong learning, self development, a healthy appetite for reading and my Son was born!
I had just come out of a role and was starting a new program of work as a project manager and was keen to uplift and differentiate myself as a true professional.
As a freelancer, taking time out for courses was expensive, firstly, your not earning and secondly the boot camp/intensive courses with a cert at the end don’t come cheaply, especially in Adelaide as it may also require travel interstate to attend. (no Zoom back then!)
My goal was not just the certification and ticking a box though, it was to learn in a more immersive way, hence, I took the self study route, which meant learning solo or in small groups over a longer period of time, it was also much more cost effective, but critically, I really developed a lot of confidence in the material and application of this knowledge in my work.
It has also helped me immensely in my ability to train and coach others, so kudos to all the people who have taught me and helped create a versatile arsenal.
I kicked off with Prince2 Foundation and Practitioner, everybody wanted project managers who had Prince 2, something which had started to evolve post the millennium in a pretty big way within South Australian State Government (little appetite for risk and project outputs over product/service outcomes seemed to rule the roost and swing the pendulum too far to control…another topic for the story backlog!). Even though in reality, most organisations where operating in a PINO environment, Prince in name only.
Soon to follow, was a series of Project Management Institute certifications, Project Management Professional, Risk Management Professional and Agile Certified Practitioner. PMP, RMP and ACP, truly my favourite ‘children’, very proud of them and the self study involved. As a note, the RMP was by far the most difficult and the ACP was just common sense (kudos to Mike Griffiths and Rita Mulcahy for writing and publishing such terrific study guides).
The PMI certs had some street cred for me, as they require you to prove eligibility to be entitled to apply. What I learnt was also more practical and applicable with techniques, practices, processes and not just a framework or methodology. Many other certifications require little or no actual experience, which is not a criticism, just that we should be aware that the certification is just the start, it’s a means to an end, to an outcome.
I was knee deep in the PMI around this time, member of the PMI globally, local chapter, joined study groups, a regular at networking events and eventually a member of the board for a short stint.
Being part of a tribe and connecting, collaborating at networking events and in partnerships across industry with universities and peers also started to emerge. This was not something I had anticipated and over the longer haul probably has been were the real secret sauce and value for development and relationships. “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools” — Humans over Parchment!
I then commenced the next wave of certifications with the Scrum Alliance, ICAgile as I honed in on Scrum and Agile Coaching. Extending past Project Management to Program Management certification and continued up until this day with Scaled Agile, Lean Six Sigma, Kanban and my new baby Organisational Coaching.
There’s more, but the point (if there is one) of this article has come up for me recently, as many of these certification require renewal and I am not referring to proof that you are actually practicing and claiming development units through a variety of methods, this is fair and comes at a cost to the organisation providing the certification, so inevitably, there are costs associated to renew your cert.
Just like a child, they grow up and become more independent and leave the roost, does it come a time to give up that hard fought cert, so the question may actually be “To re-cert or not to re-cert”.
It amazed me recently how difficult it was for me to say, there is no more value in retaining a number of certification, it’s time to move on, the job has been done, re-certification will not increase my knowledge or ability. Unless I have a constraint or need to be met by retaining it, I can let it go.
The investment (time and cost) is best served elsewhere and limited resources I have directed to new horizons.
Forgoing my 10 year old (same age as my son) PMI-PMP certification was a hard pill to swallow, but the knowledge and experience do not leave me.
In the same way as my son grows older, our relationship grows and changes and alas a time will come when he also will fly the coop!
Shout out to Nick Hadjinicolaou and George Dimitropoulos, colleagues and friends who started me on my learning journey and appreciation, inspiration for giving back to community through their work many years ago forming and running the PMI study groups.