PM Guest Article February 2021

Love conquers doubt – My PMP Certification Journey

Elizabeth Chen

Elizabeth is a PMP Certified Strategic Communications Lead and Program Manager. She has over fifteen years of experience in Public Relations, Brand Building, and Media Relations, spanning leading brands in the IT/Telecom, Consumer Technology, and FinTech.

 

I was a project manager without a title for over a decade of my professional span. I got introduced to the world of project management during my brief stint at a global consumer product giant four years ago. I loved the logical process behind successful projects – from planning, strategizing, breaking down the action items to their granularity, assigning the timelines, right to its closure, and noting the lessons learned. I wanted to know more about project management; however, I couldn’t understand where or how to start despite the research and seeking insights from other project managers. And then, I met an individual who loved project management strongly enough to share the learnings and knowledge to guide my PMP dreams to its track.

I finally applied for the PMP certification exam in April 2019 and kick-started my preparations. I earned the essential 35 hours PDU through PMP Quest after much deliberation, and I am grateful to the faculty for their immersive sessions. I scheduled and rescheduled my exams multiple times owing to professional and personal commitments. All blogs and research material that I reviewed showed me that a minimum preparation time of two-three hours a day spread across four-five months was required to clear the exam. It was only when my exam day was a month away that I decided to apply the scrum principles to my studies. I dedicated four weekends to my studies as I couldn’t take a study break from work. I had stalled preparing earlier until I reached a point with hardly a few days left. I joined the PMP study group in my organization and met some brilliant individuals – it worked well as a support group to exchange notes and best practices. My PMP mentor recommended that I focus on mock exams, and I did just that. Throughout the preparation process, I was doubtful if I could clear. I stereotyped project management as a field where the title was mandatory and that only PMs managing large or software projects could clear the exams. I remember entering the PMP Quest classes, and the first thing I heard from the coach was “Project Management is the application of logic,” and there was no turning back from thereon.

My four-weekend study plan consisted of eight hours of reading PMBOK 6th Edition, Rita Mulcahy, and referring to the notes from PMP Quest. Also, there were numerous trending blogs, Daniel Ryan’s free resources, including mock exams. I was fortunate that PMI introduced their 200 mock questions around my exam time. I would read a knowledge area and spend the next couple of hours in the mock exam and revisit the questions which I got incorrectly. I loved the new learnings and realized how I have been applying PMP principles without a formal study. I signed up for the earliest slot and didn’t touch any of the study material despite the temptation to revise the formulae! Once the exam started, I applied all the tips and tricks suggested by the PMP Quest faculty. I read the question and options before answering. Coincidentally, I received just a few formula-based questions, and more questions were on Agile principles. The mock exams with fundamentals on the formula applications all came in handy. I completed my exam in three hours and had enough time to recheck the answers, ensuring I used every second of the available time. When I saw my result, it felt like I just climbed Mount Kilimanjaro! The first thing I did was call the two individuals who helped me gain self-confidence and win over my doubts.

I was blessed for the things to fall into place for me. I am thankful for the helpful people who walked into my life and helped me pave my journey. I could have achieved this earlier if I didn’t doubt myself as much. In retrospect, I would do things differently for the next certifications and courses I want to learn:

  1. Confidence in oneself helps remove the self-doubt monster.
  2. The love and passion for knowledge and self-growth will overcome the demotivation or lack of inspiration.
  3. There is no single prescribed way of learning. We learn the most in the manner best suited to us.

To all those struggling or taking tiny steps towards their goal, may the love for your dreams and knowledge of project management guide you throughout the way.