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Is it time to go professional?

Adeline Teoh ed.
December 2, 2011

Last week I attended The 2011 Walkley Media Conference. Delegates comprised news reporters and journalists from the realms of print, radio, TV and online. I am a journalist. I completed a media degree and I am a member of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance—but neither of these attributes makes me a journalist. What does is that what I write is understood to be factual, and I follow the media Code of Ethics (yes, journalists have ethics! And some of them actually practise ethical behaviour too!).

But that’s a simplistic way of describing what makes a journalist, just like ‘someone who manages time, cost and quality’ is a simplistic way of describing a project manager. And like journalism, project management is not recognised as a profession, neither requiring qualifications, deference to a core body of knowledge, mandatory registration or licensing, a code of ethics and legal status for people to practise. You can see that project management is almost there, but not quite.

Medicine, engineering, law and accountancy are all professions, but that doesn’t make the street dentists of India any less effective at what they do. So let’s push aside the idea that project management has to be a profession for project managers to be professional. Being professional and being competent relates to behavioural conduct and performance, and that’s the happy place where project management resides at the moment.

There was plenty of debate about professionalisation at the two major project management conferences I attended earlier this year, PMOz and the IPMA World Congress. Some, like Australian Institute of Project Management National President David Hudson, are not interested in the debate and instead focus on what makes project managers successful and how the discipline can learn and grow from this. Others may be interested in having a say in our Professional Project Management survey.

We also happen to have two articles about certification on the website. One is Lynda Bourne’s overview of how having project management credentials can be an asset in a recession; the other is Michelle LaBrosse’s blog on the value of PMP certification.

And if you were in any doubt about the value of certification and competency and expertise, take a few minutes to watch Sky News’ Technology Behind Business on Why Projects Fail. Producer Nigel Freitas initially asked me to appear on the panel due to my article Why IT Projects Fail but I told him I practised good journalism rather than project management and passed the baton onto the real experts: Jed Simms (Totally Optimized Projects), David Guazzarotto (Future Knowledge) and David Hudson (AIPM) star.

Adeline Teoh ed.
Adeline Teoh is the editor of She has more than a decade of publishing experience in the fields of business and education, and has specialised in writing about project management since 2007.
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