Paul Ritchie, PMP, PMI-ACP, is Practice Director of PM College, the leading provider of strategy execution capability development services.
We recently talked to Paul about the benefits of career-oriented education programs and how to take full advantage of them. Here’s what he had to say:
Tell us about PM College. What educational opportunities do you offer?
PM College creates and delivers learning for strategy execution topics such as strategy, leadership, portfolio and project management.
What sets you apart from other schools or organizations offering career-oriented training programs?
Our programs don’t simply deliver pre-packaged content. We work with clients to tailor learning to their organization’s needs and opportunities. Furthermore, our clients leverage our research to assess their talent’s skills and competencies, which allows us to design targeted development experiences (e.g., training, coaching/mentoring, job rotation).
How important are training/educational programs like yours to the success of an individual or an organization?
Most clients use learning as a platform to support those taking on new roles. Our best clients use training, assessment and mentoring services throughout the talent lifecycle. Individuals should take the same perspective. Look at where you are, where you want to go and what you need to get there. Then be intentional about your next learning, mentoring and job experiences with that end in mind.
What are the biggest benefits to individuals of continuing education programs?
The biggest benefit is the opportunity for self-reflection. If you can look at yourself and realize what you need to do more of, less of and do better, you will evolve and grow. Related to that is the opportunity to try and fail in a safe environment. I’m a big fan of the Samuel Beckett quote: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” Continual learning is a way for us to “fail better” without risking our careers.
How important are strong project management skills in today’s business world?
Nearly everything is a project today. Even my son was doing projects in elementary school. If you don’t grow project management, you come in to the working world at a big disadvantage.
What types of training should project managers be investing their time in today?
Organizational leaders demand more strategy and leadership acumen from their project managers. Our research shows it is the most consistent and persistent skills gap in the profession. In particular, look for learning or experiences that focus project-oriented leadership skills, like stakeholder engagement or influence without authority.
Are all continuing education programs created equal? What should individuals look for when shopping around for educational opportunities?
Look for continuing education that is most relevant for where you want to go next. I really am impressed with strong industry/education partnerships, which, in our experiences, keeps the learning relevant and actionable.
What continuing education programs do you believe are not really worth the investment?
Anything that simply ticks off the “learning” box. Don’t offer – or attend – a learning opportunity just because it is there. It is a waste of your time … and your classmates’ time.
What should individuals do to make sure their making most of their educational opportunities?
Be intentional. Have a plan. Learn with the end in mind. Finally, don’t expect your talent or learning partners in human resources or personnel to figure it out for you. It is your life and your vocation: treat it that way.