PM Essence

The Joy of Volunteering!


                             –  Venkatraman Lakshminarayanan

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”Mahatma Gandhi


Doing something good for self and for others is the hallmark of volunteering. The recent floods at Chennai reaffirmed my faith in the power of volunteering when thousands of volunteers from all parts of the state came out to the flooded streets to take care of their fellowmen. What they got in return is the goodwill and change of mindset about the youth of today, the adults of tomorrow.


Volunteering is not only needed in the time of crisis but also in all walks of life, at all times in life.


“Give a little.. Get a lot..”


The reason to title the topic as “The Joy of..” is due to the fact that there is immense joy that one receives when he or she volunteers for a cause. The cause does not need to be necessarily philanthropic or only to the underprivileged but also to the people who have the thirst for knowledge and lack the self-confidence to be able to learn something new to improve in their lives. Skill-based volunteering and corporate volunteering as part of CSR activities are also great ways to volunteer.


I wish to focus on how the skill-based volunteering became a part of me and how I believe each one of us should start focusing on it, if not already.


I started my foray during my school & college days when I volunteered for coordinating the playing & outing schedules within friends, managing multiple tech events at college as part of various tech associations, to start with. This drive continued post joining the industry where I started to volunteer for project management trainings (post working hours, in house) wherein I helped many co-workers complete their PMP exam preparation. The thank you emails from them was more satisfying than actually facilitating the course itself. I also had the privilege to volunteer in the apartment complex as a board member for almost 4+ years contributing to various events and initiatives for the benefit of the co-apartment owners. The smile in the faces of residents, especially the kids gave such a satisfaction that money couldn’t buy. One more volunteering experience is with the PMI Bangalore India Chapter, in conducting various agile related courses helping 100s of participants clear their PMI-ACP certification.

When PMI recently changed their CCR process, I was one of those who felt that it was in the right move than just being a passive PDU seeker. As part of growing up in a responsible society, I think it definitely is a mandate to all the PMI certified professionals to give back to the community in many ways than one.


The beauty of the entire change is that it makes the individuals now focus on giving back to the community at large, and make their lives and others more meaningful.


What remains the same?


• Total PDUs (60 for PMP, PgMP, PfMP, PMI-PBA and 30 for PMI-ACP, PMI-RMP, PMI-SP respectively)


What has changed?


• No more earning of 15 PDUs by just doing the work at the desks (reduced to 8) – Which in my opinion is a great move.

The 60 PDUs have been broken down into Earn by Education track (35 PDUs) and Giving Back (25 PDUs). And within Education track, each of the Technical, Leadership, and Strategic & Business Management should at least be having 8 PDUs each which gives a good spread. These 3 above are called the PMI Talent Triangle.


60% of PDUs are from the Education Track which is good, to grow as an individual. And PMI itself has quoted that the number of PDUs in the “giving back” track has been reduced. I do not believe this needs to constrain somebody from actually “giving back more” to the community. Volunteering needs an attitude to learn and experience new things and a willingness to share one’s experiences and knowledge without expecting too much in return, though it still gives you much in return (if only people can look beyond the monetary part of returns).


If you keenly observe one of the PMI Talent Triangle elements of Technical, there is a lot to teach and a lot to learn in the aspect of Agile Practices, Governance, EVM, Performance Management, Schedule, Time, Budget management. Each PMI certified member can share his or her knowledge in the technical area of expertise and continue to contribute to both teach and learn in the process.


In doing so, the entire PDUs that were gained in the “Technical” part of PMI Talent Triangle can be easily put into action for claiming the 17 PDU (out of the 25 PDU) as part of “Giving Back”. Also, there is no limit to the volunteering PDUs. So the more, the merrier.


Volunteering is so addictive that you will constantly be pushed towards more and more.


There is no good day to start it – Start small, Start Now! Make a difference to self and to others!