My PgMP journey – Mr. Ashutosh Sharma
- Hello everyone, My name is Ashutosh Sharma and I am a PMI certified Programme Manager. I would like to share my story of reaching this milestone, for the benefit of fellow aspirants. But first, a brief insight into my professional background.
- Background. I am an Electrical and Electronics engineer with specialisations in the field of Radio Frequency (RF) and EMI/EMC. I have a naval background and have handled various projects and strategic programs for my organisation during my career spanning over 18 years. Although I had all this professional experience, I confess that I had no formal project management certifications. That was, until last year, when I came across the PgMP certification. Now the question “Why PgMP?”
- Why PgMP. My reason for going for the certification was that after years of project and program management, I wanted to get my skills certified and PgMP, by far, is the best certification in this field. As I went along, I also realised the best practices derived from the experience of program managers the world over, would enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of programs handled by me. And had I had this expertise earlier, I would probably have done some things differently, and definitely more effective. So that’s how I decided to go for it.
- Application. The certification process is different from PMP and maybe this, more complex process, intimidates people. But in my experience, I felt that it is a clear and streamlined process and should not be feared. So, I started with my application and it took me around a month’s effort to complete the same. Through the application, you are required to bring out the specific work undertaken in the management of programs and projects by you. The challenge here was to map my experience to the five domains of program management. For this, it was essential that I develop a sound understanding of the PgMP standard and completely acquaint myself with the standard nomenclature and terminology. This was an iterative process (like most things in program management). I would understand the nomenclature, write my experiences in the application form and then go back to the standard, and refine. I would suggest taking a slow and deliberate approach to make sure you fill in as many specifics regarding what you personally did while sticking to the PMI’s standard nomenclature. I was lucky that my application was not audited and once I filled the examination fee, my panel review, which is the next stage of application scrutiny, was also completed in under two weeks.
- Exam preparation. Unlike PMP, the PgMP standard is much more concise and just like any standard, the requirement of being generic and universally relevant (across diverse programs) means that the standard seems quite “dry” to the reader. This is when I decided I needed help to demystify the contents of the standard and understand the contextual meaning of the contents including that which was hidden in-between-the-lines.
(a) Online Training. After extensive online research, I homed on to ProThoughts Solutions and this was a wise decision in retrospect. After a brief call with Mr. Ashish, I took the first available opportunity to train over a weekend. And by the end of the weekend, I was clear on the meaning and the purpose of program management and the contents of the standard. I was also clear regarding the exam preparation strategy.
(b) Studies. I went through the training material provided by ProThoughts, followed by Michel Thiry’s book. That was followed by the standard and the contents seemed to make much more sense. I went through the standard two more times and the book once more. I marked my queries and doubts as I went along this process.
(c) Mock Tests. After a month’s studies, which included two hours on weekdays and four on weekends, I felt confident about taking the first mock test provided by ProThoughts. I got 85% of the answers correct and was enthused. I once again reviewed the mistakes, noted down doubts and queries, and went for the second mock test. Subsequently, after the third and final test, I scheduled a call with Mr. Ashish, who resolved all my residual doubts.
(d) Final Week. I gave myself a week more to generally consolidate my learning and go through specific parts of the standard where I felt I was relatively unsure. Thereafter I booked my exam appointment for a Saturday morning slot. I was feeling confident about the exam since the three mock tests helped me familiarise myself with the type of questions and the four-hour duration, which requires some stamina too.
6. The Exam. I reached a full hour before the scheduled start since the exam center was quite far (30 odd kilometers) from my residence and I didn’t want to risk being late. The exam started smoothly, and I felt that the mock tests had really helped me as I was quite familiar with the question types. I took the first hour slowly (40 questions) and then built up the pace to finish around 15 minutes ahead of time. This time I used to review the questions that I had flagged. When the time was up and I received the message that I had cleared the exam, it was a feeling of elation and satisfaction, that the efforts of the last four months had paid off!
7. Finally, in summary, my message to practicing Program Managers thinking about the certification would be as follows: –
(a) Do not be wary of the certification process. It’s different but very streamlined and totally worth it.
(b) The process of getting the certification helps you learn the best practices and definitely enhances your effectiveness.
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