Project & Programme Management

How (and why) I became a Chartered Project Professional

Carl Karshagen explains why he decided to become a Chartered Project Professional, what the process entailed, and how he'll use this prestigious status.

Why become a Chartered Project Professional (ChPP)?

I was recently awarded Chartered Project Professional (ChPP) status by APM, and the realisation of the value of this is only now starting to sink in. I ask myself, what does it mean to be a chartered project manager? And how will I use this to benefit others?

When APM decided many years ago to apply to become a chartered body, I was, to be honest, sceptical about its value and what it would bring to the project management profession. Why pursue another accreditation when one has already sat a number of three or four examinations in pursuit of formal project management qualifications? I even subjected myself to the rigours of a detailed technical assessment to be recognised as technically proficient in applying project management concepts and practices.

Having mentored and coached many project managers through a formal qualifications process, and following numerous individuals in their career progression, I am quietly proud of them, but at the same time humbled at their rapid progression through the ranks. There are many who still keep in contact with me and appraise me of their successes and, in some instances, failures.

I realised that while many do progress, a large number remain stuck in a rut. These project managers may have gained a formal qualification, but they fail to use the newly gained knowledge to their and their projects’ advantage. Their competence levels have not improved by much as they still seem to be fighting fires. 

When APM gained chartered body status, through my role at QA I became involved in mentoring candidates who were preparing for ChPP status. This made me sit up and consider that knowledge alone is not enough. Project management learning is not only about sitting an exam and gaining a formal qualification. Competence must be demonstrated through the practical application of the knowledge to project development and delivery. This was the dawning of my realisation of the value ChPP would bring to the project management profession.

What did I have to do gain ChPP status?

The question arose – what do I need to do to gain recognition of truly being a professional project manager? The ChPP application journey required me to demonstrate: 

  • knowledge, technical as well as general,
  • application of this knowledge,
  • and competence in the delivery of complex projects, programmes and portfolios.

While project management is characterised as being a “team sport”, applying for ChPP status is very much centred around me as an individual, my competence and not that of others.

I soon found that I was being challenged in my own mind to demonstrate my competence in delivering complex initiatives. I had to consider the complexity of the initiatives I have been involved in and demonstrate this through unpredictability, complex stakeholder relationships, multiple work packages or projects, the high degree of risk, and multiple competing objectives. A maximum of four initiatives could be used to support this, each of which is restricted to 500 words.

I then had to provide 12 competence statements of maximum 250 words each, demonstrating what I personally accomplished and achieved. The difficulty here was in translating everything into first person, active statements about myself.

The ChPP interview

Once I'd successfully submitted the written overviews and competence statements, and an APM assessor deemed that these met the assessment criteria, I was invited to a formal interview with two assessors. Fortunately, as I held the old APM Practitioner Qualification in project management (discontinued in March 2019), my interview was only one hour in duration.

During the interview, the assessors explored my competence statements and expected me to expand on the content that I had submitted. While the interview was non-confrontational and delivered in a relaxed environment, it was still an interview and felt very much like an interrogation. This perception is purely because I needed to demonstrate my competence with limited time to think – this meant that I had to rely on my experiences and answered the questions without resorting to umming and aahing.

“If you know your onions, you can make gravy,” is my mantra.

While I left the interview feeling a little bit battered and worn, I did feel that I was able to convince the assessors of my competence without being overly confident. Then came the long wait before receiving the result.

So what's next?

So what does receiving ChPP status mean to me personally? I believe it brings credibility in the eyes of clients, candidates and colleagues that I have demonstrated competence in delivering complex initiatives. This will allow me to seek opportunities to share my project management experiences and knowledge with those seeking to advance their careers. I have since encountered appreciation of the status from numerous candidates on workshops and training interventions.

I am proud to have been awarded this prestigious status. I will be using this as a vehicle for enhancing the project and programme management professions so that others too may progress in their careers. Through mentoring other ChPP candidates, I hope to assist them in gaining recognition for their project and programme competence, skill and capability.

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