Meet the IT professionals who teach fellow techies the art of project management

In most cases, existing qualifications and skills can get you only so much ahead up the corporate ladder. That’s why a majority of IT professionals, once they’ve accumulated “sufficient experience” in the field (read six to eight years), opt to get certified in project management through courses run by the Project Management Institute (PMI), a not-for-profit professional organisation, or sign up for similar advanced diplomas/degrees such as those offered at Indian Institute of Management’s new Kochi campus.

A bunch of senior professionals, mostly from the IT field, are the ones who teach techies in the city the art of project management, which essentially involves ‘planning, organising, motivating, and controlling resources to achieve specific goals’. These ‘core trainers’ who number around 20, are all certified project management professionals and volunteer under the aegis of the Kerala chapter of PMI.

“Apart from boosting individual CVs, resource personnel with project management certificates also add value to the organisation and also encourage best practices,” says Sanjay Bhaskaran, an accounts manager with UST Global, who has been teaching project management since 2005. He is the Kerala chapter’s vice-president of education.

“Many projects get cancelled right at concept stage, half-way through and so on simply due to lack of know-how of those working on it. What we do is address best practices relating to running a successful project to completion, sometimes even drawing from our own combined experience of working on a project,” explains Rajeev Rajashekara Panicker, who works with an MNC at Technopark. He is president of the chapter.

Sanjay, Rajeev and their compatriots conduct classes every month (spread over to consecutive weekends), alternating between Kochi and the city. Besides, they also join hands with companies for customised sessions and conduct awareness drives regarding project management, especially in colleges. Adds Manoj Krishna, another volunteer who works at Nest: “PMI’s course is generic and is meant for every professional in every industry but we find that it is people in IT who mostly sign up for it. Perhaps this is because the industry itself is not yet mature - unlike, say, the construction industry - doesn't yet have too many standards.” As such, classes will be related to different variables such as scope of a project, time managemnet, quality and budget, apart from other aspects such as risk management.

What then is it motivates these techies to volunteer their time? Says Manoj, who has been volunteering since 2007: “Admittedly, at first it was purely to maintain my certification. Then when I got more involved in it, I realised that there is much scope for networking. We get a lot of exposure and get to learn about best practices in the industry. We also get to attend international conferences. Nowadays, if I have an issue related to a project that I have to work out, I literally have a world-wide network of fellow professionals at my fingertips.”

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