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DPM Podcast

Do Project Management Certifications Matter In Digital? (with Candice Wyatt from Red Door Interactive)

By 19/04/2021 May 11th, 2021 No Comments

Galen Low is joined by Candice Wyatt, director of project management at Red Door Interactive.

Candice is a veteran delivery leader in both digital solution development and omnichannel brand communications. She has worked with brands including WD 40, Titlest, Bosch, Intuit, and Asics. In her spare time, she’s also a writer and a proud supporter of girls in tech.

Tune in as they discuss whether project management certifications are still valuable and how you can leverage them to get your maximum return on investments.

Interview Highlights:

  • Candice Wyatt is a veteran delivery leader in both digital solution development and omni-channel brand communications. She has worked with brands including WD 40, Titlest, Bosch, Intuit, and Asics in her spare time. She’s also a writer and a proud supporter of girls in tech. [0:58]
  • Currently, Candice is the director of Project Management at Red Door Interactive, where she leads a team of three technical project managers and eight producers and program managers. [1:21]
  • The biggest challenge she’s facing today professionally is about how to stay connected, both personally and professionally to her team. And how to keep them motivated in a virtual environment. [2:25]

“As project managers, we tend to be very structured and we like things to go as planned, but we’re also in a time where things are not going according to plan.” — Candice Wyatt

  • Candice works at Red Interactive. They’re a fiercely independent marketing agency, full service, omni-channel marketing. She started with them as a coordinator. [5:02]

“I’m fortunate that I work in an organization that values learning, that really supports people who want to pursue advancement professionally and self-growth.” — Candice Wyatt

  • Candice personally did a weekend bootcamp to prepare for the exam. She basically gave up her life for a good two months. She was working Monday through Friday. Saturday and Sunday she was in class for eight hours doing this bootcamp. [7:07]
  • The two valuable things that Candice learned throughout the process of getting her PMP certification were the tangible tools and techniques that she got really around scheduling techniques, and the other intangible part was that she gained a lot of confidence. Confidence that she knew what project management was. [8:30]

“Confidence is really a game-changer in being able to realize your full potential.” — Candice Wyatt

  • The PMP is globally recognized. It is the largest certification that most people hold all across the world. [11:41]
  • Having a PMP certificate means that you’ve met the qualifications to become certified, but also that you’re staying up to date on the evolution of the project management practice because, in order to maintain that certification, you have to do what they call PDUs (Professional Development Units). [12:59]
  • In order to maintain a PMI certification such as PMP or ACP agile certified practitioner, you don’t have to be a PMI member. [16:51]
  • PMI is like a one-and-done sort of fee structure. They have a lot of different ways that you can earn your PDUs so that you can renew your certification every three years. [17:35]
  • When hiring, Candice didn’t require PMP certification initially, but it does affect her decision on who to move forward. [20:08]
  • At Red Door, their core values are I S.E.E. 100%. That stands for inspire, share, evolve, exceed. And the one everybody loves is a hundred percent jerk-free. [23:23]

“It’s really about differentiating from people who think they’re project managers just because they’re organized, and people who have taken the time to really learn and understand how to do project management.” — Candice Wyatt

  • Candice and all of their technical project managers also have a certification in Growth-Driven Design (GDD). [27:42]
  • In Candice’s viewpoint, the PMP is the foundational knowledge and it’s really applicable to all methodologies, any organization. [28:48]

“Get your PMP first, get a really solid foundation and then add on things that are specific to how your organization functions.” — Candice Wyatt

  • At Red Door, they’re working with clients where they’re often managing millions of marketing dollars for them. [30:28]

“Trust comes from delivering great work, meeting commitments.” — Candice Wyatt

  • At Red Door, they have a career path structure that has varying levels. They don’t just have project managers. They have coordinators, associates, producers, technical project managers, and senior producers. [37:16]

Guest Bio:

Candice Wyatt is a PMP and PMI-ACP certified project management professional and Director of Project Management at an award-winning marketing agency, Red Door Interactive. She manages the agency’s cross-channel producers, program managers, and technical project managers and started the agency’s PMO four years ago, and still leads the PMO today. She has worked on notable clients such as WD-40, Titleist, Bosch, and ASICS and was co-managing director of San Diego’s Girls in Tech non-profit.

Image of Candice Wyatt

 

“I’m fortunate that I work in an organization that values learning, that really supports people who want to pursue advancement professionally and self-growth.”

— Candice Wyatt

We’re trying out transcribing our podcasts using a software program. Please forgive any typos as the bot isn’t correct 100% of the time.

Audio Transcription:

Galen Low

So there I was, finally after giving up dozens of weekends and evenings to study and after pushing myself through practice exam after practice exam, not to mention the flat tire and subsequent frenzied cab ride to get to my exam. Finally, I was a proud holder of a project management certification, but now what? Was it worth all the effort I put myself through? Did I learn things that I’ll be able to put into practice in my day to day? Did I learn anything that was relevant to digital? If you’ve been debating the value of getting a project management certification, this episode is for you. We’re going to be breaking down what a certification means for job seekers, for hiring managers and organizations working in digital.

As well as how some of these certifications have been evolving so that you can make an informed decision.

Thanks for tuning in my name is Galen Low with The Digital Project Manager. We are a community of digital professionals on a mission to help each other, get skilled, get confident and get connected so that we can deliver projects better. If you want to hear more about that head over to thedigitalprojectmanager.com.

Hey everyone, thanks for hanging out with us on the DPM podcast. My guest today is a veteran delivery leader in both digital solution development and omni-channel brand communications. She has worked with brands including WD 40, Titlest, Bosch, Intuit, and Asics. In her spare time she’s also a writer and a proud supporter of girls in tech.

And currently, she is the director of project management at Red Door Interactive, where she leads a team of three technical project managers and eight producers and program managers. Today, she’s going to be chatting with me about project management certifications. Are they still valuable in the digital world today? And if so, how can you leverage them to get your maximum return on investments?

Folks, please welcome Candice Wyatt. Hello Candice!

Candice Wyatt

Hey Galen. Hey, everyone listening. Super excited to be here. This community DPM has been a resource for me, and my team for many years. So I’m really looking forward to chatting with you.

Galen Low

That’s so nice to hear. I’m really, I’m really happy. We’ve been a resource for your team, and now you are a resource for us. How the tables have turned. Now, this is really great. Really happy to have you on the show today. Uh, Candice when we first met, it was like eight months into a global pandemic.

Um, and today it’s still a strange reality, but it’s like laced with a little more hope, you know, vaccines are rolling out. Uh, so through that lens, maybe you can tell me, like, what are your biggest challenges that you’re facing today in your sort of professional role?

Candice Wyatt

Yeah, I think it’s what a lot of people are facing both in their personal and professional lives. For professionally, it’s really about how do you stay connected? Both personally and professionally to your team. And how do you keep them motivated in a virtual environment? Um, for us at Red Door, that was a little bit easier of a transition. We already operated very virtually, but with clients it’s a lot different. We don’t have that FaceTime in the same way that we used to.

Galen Low

Have you found that some of your clients are a little bit more anxious, a little bit more stressed out. There’s more of that sort of combination of life, stress, pandemic, stress, and then also compounding onto like work stress.

Candice Wyatt

Oh yeah. It’s a whole different ball game, but I think it’s strengthened a lot of our personal connections. Right? Because you’re in a meeting, your kid’s going to be running in the background. Your cat’s going to be jumping up on your computer. Those are the kind of moments that you didn’t really get before this all happened. So you kind of learn a little bit more about each other on a personal level.

Galen Low

I love that. Yeah. It has humanized things a little bit hasn’t it? And do you have any sort of like, top tactics or techniques you, for just kind of getting your clients kind of calm and, uh, distressing and keeping it human and keeping things casual when they’re working remotely and it might be new for them.

Candice Wyatt

Um, I think we just, you have to approach it with a lot of empathy. Um, you know, as project managers, we tend to be very structured and we like things to go as planned, but we’re also in a time where things are not going according to plan. So if you’re on a meeting and something happens or, uh, kind of derail things a bit, you kind of have to learn to go with the flow.

And that’s really helped out a lot to just ease everybody’s kind of, uh, make everything a little bit calmer.

Galen Low

I like that trading some rigidity for a bit of flexibility, even if it’s against our nature as project managers.

Candice Wyatt

Yeah.

Galen Low

Awesome. All right, so let’s get into it. Let’s talk about project management certifications and whether they’re still relevant in digital here in 2021.

Uh, so just for a bit of context, this is a question that I get from a lot of folks that I talk to, whether they’re just starting out as a digital project manager or whether they’re looking to sort of level up to a new opportunity, or they are in a sort of leadership role or they’re an agency owner, and they’re just trying to make the best decisions to have highly skilled delivery teams.

Um, but I wonder if maybe we can sort of take a running start at it. And maybe you could tell me the story of how you got your PMP. Like what motivated you to do it?

Candice Wyatt

Yeah, I was, uh, so I work in Red Interactive. We’re a fiercely independent marketing agency, full service. Uh, omni-channel marketing. And I started with them as a coordinator.

So I am fresh out of college. Never had a marketing gig in my life. And I’m also somebody who doesn’t like to go into something, and, uh, do it halfway, do it partially get, I like to be really good at what I do. And so I started researching, you know, what kind of training can I get I’m in this project coordinator role?

What is project coordinator? What do project coordinators do? What is project management? Um, and I came across the PMP certification. I’m fortunate that I work in an organization that values learning that really supports people who want to, uh, pursue advancement professionally and self-growth. And so I came to them and said, Hey, there’s this certification.

I love to take it. Uh, can I? And their perspective was if you’re willing to put in the time and the effort to do the studying, we will pay for the costs. So it was really a win-win for both of us, and they got a better project manager because of it. And I got to, uh, feel that I was, um, really honing in on this career path that I was going on.

Galen Low

I like that all-in mentality, I can totally see it kind of, you know, young, ambitious getting into a career and being like, okay, well, what is the training that I can get? That’s going to be sort of recognized. It’s also going to be useful, um, for what I do. Um, and I, you know, most of our listeners know that, but.

Uh, there’s a, uh, it’s an exam based, uh, certification, uh, through PMI, the project management Institute. Um, and the PMP exam is I dunno, infamous in ways, right? Like it’s a, it’s kind of a strange exam. Uh, and there are a lot of requirements sort of leading up to being able to qualify to write that exam. But how did you, how did you prepare for the exam?

Candice Wyatt

You know, there’s a lot of ways. I personally did a weekend bootcamp that was in person. So I basically gave up my life for a good two months. And I was working Monday through Friday and then Saturday and Sunday, I was in class for eight hours doing this bootcamp. Um, so I’m much more present and I retain information, um, if I’m in person, but there’s a lot of other options, right?

There’s the online learning courses where you can kind of go at your own pace. There’s even just reading textbooks. Um, uh, you know, so there’s a lot of different ways you can. You can study for and prep for the exam. It’s really about how you learn best.

Galen Low

Absolutely! And I did the exact same thing. I did an in-person class, but yeah, for me, it was really about sort of interacting with my classmates and talking about the kind of projects that they’re working on and their ambitions.

Um, so I mean, my advice is if there’s an online course like that right now, Or when it’s safe to do that in person again? Um, yeah, that was a really fun experience despite taking up 16 hours of my weekend after working, you know, a 60, 70 hour a week. Uh, and I guess the big loaded question, this is the loaded question, uh, that we discussed often, but what did you learn throughout the process of getting your PMP certification that you feel was valuable?

Candice Wyatt

There’s two answers to that. And there’s one that is a little bit more tangible in terms of the value that I got. And then there’s one, that’s a little bit less tangible. And so the first one is. The tangible tools and techniques that I got really around scheduling techniques. So specifically they talk about too, which is crashing and fast tracking and there’s risks associated with each of those.

So I remember very vividly going back to Red Door. And I would use these techniques. Um, and I knew what to look out for. I knew if things were starting to crop up that were going to be issues, I was able to kind of proactively address those because I knew I knew what they were. So that was the really tangible part.

The other intangible, less tangible part was that. I gained a lot of confidence, confidence that I knew what project management was. I knew what my role was. I knew how to do it. And confidence is really a game changer in being able to realize your full potential. So that little voice in the back of my head that was like, ah, doubting whether or not I knew what I was doing.

Um, whether or not I was doing the right thing was really started disappearing after I got my PMP.

Galen Low

I love that. And I think like the PMP process certification, the exam, it gets a bad rap for being like, even when I was in the bootcamp, it was like, there’s a specific way to like pass the exam. And this is kind of about how to pass the exam more than it is about, you know, learning to manage a project.

But at the same time, you know, the PMBOK, the sort of body of knowledge, um, is based on. Like real world practical project management stuff, um, at a very large scale. Um, and we’ll talk, increase, we’ll talk a little bit later about how it’s increasingly more related to digital. Um, but you know, it does still, when I, when I was chatting with you in our conversations, you’ve given me pause as well.

Cause I was like, okay. Yeah, actually, I did learn a lot about project management by studying for the exam, even though my mindset was like, how do I pass the exam and just, you know, get this certification and be done with it. Um, and I love that thing about confidence. Yeah. Again, confidence that you have been taught from a body of knowledge that has been assembled from, you know, like generations and like global professionals doing the job in some career in some field.

Um, You know, at, at, at a pretty high level. So I love that. I love that sort of quashing the imposter syndrome as well. Um, I know for our listeners, I know we’ve been talking a lot about, uh, like the PMP certification, um, and beyond the PMP, you know, of course there are a lot of different PM project management related certifications.

Um, but just sort of before we move forward, maybe let’s make sure folks listening are on the same page when we’re talking about project management certifications in your mind, what are we talking about?

Candice Wyatt

You know, there’s a lot of different certification types, uh, because there’s a lot of methodologies out there and ways to do things.

I think that too, obviously the PMP is globally recognized. It is the largest, uh, certification that the most people hold all across the world. So I think that’s your foundation. I think the other one that is a big bud buzz word is agile. So there’s certifications around agile certified practitioners, scrum master all of these things.

So I think agile and the PMP are the two that I would tend to focus on. But again, depending upon your organization and how you operate within your organization, it may make sense for you to look into some other certifications that utilize the methodologies and frameworks that, that your company works within.

Galen Low

Hmm, love that. And I even just a double click on that. Um, like maybe we can, like, can we differentiate between sort of getting a certificate? There’s a lot of courses out there for any craft, um, and you know, you will get a certificate at the end. Um, but it’s not necessarily the same as. You know, a PMP, which is sort of maybe a bit more a kin to a professional designation.

Um, so then it’s like, okay, well, why is having a few letters next to your name different than just like binge watching videos on LinkedIn learning?

Candice Wyatt

Yeah. And I really think it comes down to credibility. It means that you’ve met the qualifications to become certified, but also that you’re staying up to date on the evolution of the project management practice, because in order to maintain that certification, you have to, uh, do what they call PDUs — professional development units.

So here’s really my perspective about the certification versus. Uh, just taking some courses and maybe getting a certificate of sorts is it’s a, there is a globally recognized certification for our discipline, which is for project managers. And if you consider yourself a project manager, why are you even questioning whether or not to get it?

If you think about working in a digital environment, right. If you’re working with a digital analyst and they don’t have the Google analytics certification, that’s probably not acceptable. That’s like standard practice. So I, you know, don’t even think about it. Um, if you’re really serious about your career in project management, then in my perspective, do the work, get the certification.

Galen Low

You know, and actually that brings us to like the next juicy question, which is that some folks, especially in our community, you know, they’re questioning whether getting a PMP is relevant to digital project management. Do you think it is, uh, or, you know, is there an element that maybe isn’t, you know, isn’t so focused on digital.

Candice Wyatt

If you would’ve asked me this two, three years ago, I would have had probably a little bit different response, um, in that when I was going through, and this was probably five years ago now, when I was going through getting my PMP certification, there were definitely times where I was like, this is not super relevant to what I do as a digital project manager.

Now. Answering that question today. Um, I will say that PMI has evolved. Um, and as some of you may know, the exam changed drastically as of January 1st of this year. So the entire content outline. Um, changed. And I really believe that it’s more relevant now to digital project managers than it’s ever been.

So it really is, is talking about topics like leading a team, managing conflict, emotional intelligence, um, engaging virtual teams and really understanding business environments, which I think a lot of the archaic PMP example lacked as of a few years ago.

Galen Low

Yeah, and I really have to give PMI credit for, um, definitely over the past few years, really listening and having their finger on the pulse of the industry, knowing that increasingly project management in general is digitizing no matter what industry you’re in.

Uh, and the fact that, you know, there is a sort of different. Uh, lens to be applied for digital project management as, as, as we define it. So, you know, kudos to PMI for that one. Um, I mean, I know, I know that’s some people think certifications and, you know, PMI are just kind of a bit of a money grab and in fairness, you know, like PMI is like, it’s totally like its own economy in and of itself, you know, there’s a marketplace of like courses you can take to maintain your PDUs. There’s local PMI chapters that you can become a member of. You can be a member of PMI globally. Uh, of course you’re paying for the exam. You’re paying for a prep course, you know, you’re paying to write the exam.

Um, so what do you say to people who just kind of feel like, it’s a waste of money, or it’s just kind of like this black hole of like, where the contents of your wallet gets dumped into.

Candice Wyatt

Yeah. And as a marketer, you don’t have to ask me twice if I believe that most everything is about making a buck.

Right? Sure. It is. But that doesn’t mean that what you get in return isn’t valuable or worth that buck. Um, so when I was exploring, uh, getting my agile certification about a year ago. Um, I cost was a factor as it is for most people and most people don’t know, but in order to maintain a PMI certification such as your PMP or your ACP agile certified practitioner, you don’t have to be a PMI member.

So that is one of the things that really swayed me towards going the PMI certification route versus something like Scrum Alliance, where you can get your Certified Scrum Master. Because they require you to pay a renewal fee every two years, PMI, it’s like a one and done sort of fee structure. And they have a lot of different ways that you can earn your PDUs so that you can, uh, renew your certification every three years.

So just being a project manager in your daily job earns you PDUs, volunteering earns you PDUs. Creating content, like if you’re writing an article or a blog, post reading a book. So there’s a lot of different ways that don’t cost anything. Um, and I do without sounding like an advertisement for PMI. Um, I really have found that I like their structure.

I think it’s less of a money grab than some of the other, um, training providers and certification providers.

Galen Low

That’s a really good point in terms of, you know, you get something for that buck, right? You spend money, but it’s not like just a blind fee. You’re actually getting something back. And like you said, there’s a lot of options that they provide where you can sort of do the upkeep.

That is part of that certification, a part of that credibility, uh, without necessarily, you know, throwing money at them even like it’s not even money that necessarily goes to them. You know, even it’s going to like third-party training providers or volunteering, or, you know, having a blog, like there’s a lot of, a lot of other ways that are sort of not just paying them or paying somebody, uh, to sort of keep your PMP.

Candice Wyatt

Definitely.

Galen Low

Yeah, I do like that. All right. Let’s move past the critics and the haters and talk about what you think is really valuable about a certification. What is the true value? Um, so yeah, I mean, I would argue that you know, in some ways a certification is a bit of a differentiator, I guess. I think a lot of people, they use it in that way.

You know, having, having the, you know, PMP sort of next to their name and their resume, uh, and in their LinkedIn profile. Uh, but talk to me about certifications and how you feel like they might be a differentiator, especially when somebody is job hunting. Is it really, uh, like something that. Uh, like you’re looking for when you’re kind of navigating through a stack of, uh, resumes.

Does it make you sort of stop and look at it?

Candice Wyatt

When I’m hiring, it’s not that I require it. Right. I think also because the PMP certification to date hasn’t been as relevant to digital project managers. Um, it hasn’t been a requirement for me, but when it comes down to I’m looking at these five people and.

One person or two people have their PMP certification. That absolutely is a factor in my decision of who to move forward with, because what it tells me as a hiring manager is that you have invested. In project management, you put in the time to learn your craft and that you care and you’re passionate.

So I remember, Oh, it was probably about five years ago. I was hiring for an intern at Red Door and I had these two awesome candidates and I ended up making a decision to go with one over the other and that person that I didn’t choose came back three months later and emailed me and said, Hey, I just want you to know that I have my CAPM certification, which for those who don’t know that there’s the PMP, there’s a lot of rigorous prerequisites that you have to meet in terms of 4,500 experience hours, managing projects, et cetera.

If you’re new in the field, you don’t yet have that experience to be able to qualify. So they have a one step below certification called the CAPM. And this intern that I didn’t select had went off, put in two, three months of studying, got his CAPM, came back, said, Hey, I went and did this. And you know what?

I ended up hiring him in the last year. And the next round and he was fantastic. So I think it tells a lot about your, uh, motivation about how driven you are, um, and that you’re committed to project management as a career path.

Galen Low

Yeah, I like that sort of perspective of, okay, you cared enough to put in the time to do this.

And of course, you know, what you learned along the way is valuable. Uh, you know, that’s all important too, but it’s kind of, it is a bit of an indicator that, you know, somebody is really passionate about their craft so much, so that. You know, they read the pin box from cover to cover and wrote an exam about it.

Candice Wyatt

And fell asleep a few times.

Galen Low

I committed it to memory, had it tattooed on the back of their wrist. That’s awesome. Yeah. Yeah. That definitely makes sense. As a differentiator, as you say, not necessarily a requirement, but maybe something that gives, you know, that short list. Um, it gives one candidate, a bit of a leg up in terms of.

Uh, you know, showing how much they care and sort of what you can expect from that person. Yep. Um, what about for, for agencies and their clients? Uh, you mentioned to me that actually most of your team has their PMP and you’re almost on track in coming months to have a hundred percent of your team have their PMP.

So why is it so important to you that your team all have a PMP?

Candice Wyatt

So at Red Door, our core values are I S.E.E. 100%. And what that stands for is inspire, share, evolve, exceed. And the one everybody loves is a hundred percent jerk-free.

Galen Low

I love that.

Candice Wyatt

So when I started thinking about our department and discipline, I don’t believe that we could fully deliver on those values unless we really honed our craft.

And, and by doing that, getting the PMP certification was one step in that. So I don’t think we could have shared, which is one of our core values, expert knowledge, and exceeded as project managers. If we haven’t taken the care to get the most widely recognized certification that’s available to our discipline.

So I believe that project managers are subject matter experts, just like everyone else. So just like an SEO specialist, just like a data analyst, we are so subject matter experts in project management. So it’s a really about differentiating from people who think they’re project managers, just because they’re organized and people who have taken the time to really learn about understand, uh, how to do project management.

Galen Low

And that’s kind of the mindset too, isn’t it? Especially in digital, where many of us, not everybody, but many of us didn’t intend to become project managers. We just communicated well, as you said, we’re organized, helped to get things done and we were sort of handpicked and wherever we were working to be like, Hey, maybe you should help deliver stuff.

And we kinda, you know, shrugged and said, yeah, maybe, uh, versus, you know, like you mentioned like that an analytics certification, if you’re somebody who is interested in data and analytics, there are certain certifications that you should sort of, uh, pursue in order to add credibility to what you do. And that sort of path is kind of like more, I dunno, deliberate in some ways like, uh, versus what I just described, uh, where, you know, you’re like, okay, I’m going to pursue this and I need to get these certifications and blah, blah, blah.

Whereas a lot of, a lot of the digital project managers that I talked to, we kind of just fell in and like getting training at all was kind of like secondary in a way, uh, versus the anxiety that we felt of like being like, okay, I have to do this now. Now I’m accountable to deliver projects. Let’s figure this out.

Um, yeah, that, yeah, definitely. I love that. I love that about sharing and exceeding in your values. It’s a very definitely, yeah.

Candice Wyatt

And I think project management more and more is becoming more valued, right? Especially as the complexity of the digital and technology space is increasing, um, clients and organizations, uh, are realizing that project management is the key to successful projects.

Uh, everybody knows what it feels like in the day-to-day when you’re on a project that is not managed well. Right. It’s super stressful. Um, there’s missed deadlines. There’s overruns on budget. It’s not a great feeling. Um, so when people have those really positive experiences where they have a project manager that just has things on lock, everything’s moving smoothly, not perfectly because no project will, but they know how to navigate challenges.

Then you’re like, Oh yeah, project management is important.

Galen Low

I think there’s a scale factor as well. At least there was for me where, you know, I did my PMP and I was like, I’m never going to use any of this. Uh, and then I moved into a different role and my sort of project budgets were, you know, 10 X, what I was doing before.

Uh, and now we’re looking at organizations who are doing like enterprise digital transformations for multi-millions of dollars. And yeah, if you thought a small project off the rails felt bad, a massive project off the rails feels quite terrible, um, as well. So yeah, I, I definitely agree with that in terms of the value of project management, for sure.

Um, something I wanted to circle back on. Uh, you mentioned, you know, you have your ACP, are there other certifications that some folks on your team are pursuing whether sort of project management related or otherwise?

Candice Wyatt

Yeah, so myself and all of our technical project managers also have a certification in growth-driven design, uh, which short is GDD.

And that’s a very. Uh, specialized, uh, methodology and framework for how to do website builds or redesigns. Um, so it’s also one of those things where there are a lot of certification options, and it’s really about finding the ones that are most relevant to what you do and how your organization operates.

Galen Low

I like that. Um, and that is sort of a quandary that, you know, some people that I talked to are at right now, uh, which is given the choice between, you know, getting a project management certification or a certification for, you know, something that you do, like the GDD or like a specific technology that you work with, you know, what do you think is more important?

So, as an example, um, I was talking to a PM who like almost exclusively works in e-commerce, um, and was considering, you know, between getting a PMP. Or like a Magento certification. Um, so yeah. What are your thoughts? Good idea. Bad idea. What would you do first?

Candice Wyatt

Um, definitely the PMP in, in my viewpoint, the PMP is the foundational knowledge and it’s really applicable to, uh, all methodologies, um, any organization.

Uh, so it’s the baseline. And then from there, I think you can build on that. So I would say get your PMP first, get a really solid foundation and then add on things that are specific to, to how your organization functions.

Galen Low

I got, that makes sense. It’s the sort of foundational certification for our craft and then there’s the context. Right?

And I think that’s kind of like what occurred to me as well. Mostly talking to you, which is that yes. Uh, you know, uh, when I did my PMP, it was several years ago and I was like, okay, this is not really necessarily digitally specific. Um, but it really did give me that core. And then for me, digital is the context around that, right?

It’s like, I am a project manager in a digital context and yes, there are things that are different in that context. But I have that core of, you know, like you said, risk management, you know, like just project planning, sort of. Tactics techniques, um, those critical thinking skills, um, to actually navigate my role in any context, really?

Candice Wyatt

Yeah.

Galen Low

For sure. Um, and then I thought maybe I’d kind of swing around to like clients. So, you know, you work at an agency, um, and you have a team that are all getting their PMP and have other certifications, but you know, what is, what is the value for, for your clients? What does that mean to them?

Candice Wyatt

Well at Red Door, we’re working with clients where we’re often managing millions of marketing dollars for them.

And you need to have trust, uh, between both the agency partner and the, and your client. Now trust comes from delivering great work, meeting commitments, but when you’re going into a new relationship that trust in history isn’t yet there. So I think the PMP certification helps signal, uh, that we know what we’re doing.

Uh, we’re professionals, uh, we invest in our people so that they can care for your investments and make the most of them. So I think it’s really, it builds trust from the beginning. Now, obviously that trust, uh, has to be maintained and you do that through, uh, delivering a great work. Um, and doing what you say you’re going to do.

Um, but it’s a good starting point, uh, that I think clients, um, get a benefit from.

Galen Low

Uh, do have over you ever have any, uh, clients come to you asking, um, Uh, for like a PMP as a requirement, like, Hey, I want to be, I want a PM. I want the PM on my project to sort of be a certified professional.

Candice Wyatt

We’ve, I’ve seen it most in, uh, government type clients where they have a very strict requirement that the manager project managers who are managing their projects are PMP certified.

Um, but I think while other clients are maybe not require it. You can definitely tell when they have APM certified, uh, practitioner on their end. Right? Because you’re speaking the same language, right. If I say, okay, we need to crash the schedule. Right. Going back to my example, before about scheduling techniques.

If I say that, and on the other end, the client’s project manager has their PMP. We know exactly what we’re talking about. We know the risks, we know the potential rewards. It just gives you a common vocabulary from which to operate from.

Galen Low

I love it. Yeah, absolutely. Um, and you know, more and more at, uh, definitely sort of at scale, right.

You’re probably not the only PM. You know, you’re working with partners, you have your client PM. You know, there may be other stakeholders who are sort of delivery oriented. Um, not everyone will have a project manager sort of title, um, but the sort of craft of delivery, um, you know, arguably maybe on par with, you know, having an MBA, for example, which, you know, doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily running a business, uh, per se.

Uh, I don’t know if I’m knowledgeable enough to talk about this, but you know, it’s that you have this sort of common baseline understanding a common language, um, and the sort of foundational components that, um, allow everyone to sort of work together effectively and sort of manage, like, manage the risks.

Candice Wyatt

Absolutely.

Galen Low

I do like that as a common language. Um, all right, capping question. Is it pretentious to put PMP in your email signature or whatever sort of designation or certification you have?

Candice Wyatt

Absolutely not. Honestly, if you’ve done the work, anybody who’s been through the PMP exam knows that it is an experience you’ll never forget. So I say humbly showcase it. Um, no different than if you have your MBA and put MBA after your name. I have it in my email signature. I have it in my LinkedIn title. Um, I’m all about showcasing accomplishments.

Galen Low

Yeah, I like that. You put it in the work. Why not?

Candice Wyatt

Yeah.

Galen Low

And it means something.

It definitely does. I actually, I resisted putting like, like whatever, BA for my bachelor of arts, because I felt like that maybe wasn’t as standout. Um, but yeah, I, I, I, I’m kind of, of the same mind I do like to, I of put my PMP somewhere in my name, at least on my resume. Yeah. Um, just to kind of send that message.

Candice Wyatt

Yup.

Galen Low

Those are, these insights are all super valuable, but I think the thing that really resonated with me is that it is a sort of foundational certification of project management. And it is widely recognized when we’re talking about PMP there’s others as well, like the PRINCE2. Um, but it does sort of mean something.

Um, and it is something that is, like you said, proof not only that you like passed an exam, but that you are actually actively keeping up your knowledge in the industry, whether by being in the role or by contributing to the craft or by taking additional training, uh, it’s something that hadn’t really occurred to me.

Um, you know, I kind of think of it as this thing that I got and I just need to do stuff to keep yeah. But in keeping it I’m actually staying up on, you know, what is current in the industry and the craft and the practice of project management? I think that was, yeah, that was a solid insight.

Candice Wyatt

So, are you a believer now? That’s the question?

Galen Low

You know, I am. And I was like, I was thinking about it when you were talking earlier and I was like, Ooh, they changed the exam. I might like to write that exam. And I’m like, what am I like, what am I doing? I’ve never wanted to write an exam before, but here I want to see what they changed.

I want to see, you know, the digital focus. It makes me want to go back and learn. Uh, and arguably I have that chance to do that when I’m sort of, you know, gathering PDUs over the next few years. Um, but you know, that is a really, uh, like. Yeah, it actually got me excited. The fact that, yeah, there is this, um, you know, additional layer to build onto a foundation that originally I thought was not very relevant originally, I thought was not very digital.

Um, and I’m really interested in that, but no, I’m not going to go write the exam again, but I definitely do want to learn about it. Um, Arguably, this is a whole another topic, but, uh, what advice would you give to folks who are in the process of building their first PMO or, you know, they’re managing a team of project managers.

Um, how should they determine the level of qualification required? Uh, you know, is it about the complexity of what they do? Is it kind of just a personal decision? Like you mentioned. Like for you PMP is not a requirement. Um, but it is something that, you know, your team has gone out and gotten and you will have a fully PMP certified team, uh, you know, in a matter of weeks or months.

Um, but yeah, if you’re starting out and you’re managing a team of project managers, how do you determine like the level of qualification that you will need?

Candice Wyatt

Well, I think it’s at Red Door, we have a career path structure that has varying levels, right? We don’t just have project managers and that’s the only role we have.

Right. We have coordinators, we have associates, we have producers, we have technical project managers. We have senior producers. So it’s knowing about what level you need based on the type of work you have, right? Because there’s some type of work that a coordinator is going to be able to manage that type of work, or there’s some really sophisticated programs or projects where you need somebody that is senior.

So I think that is a starting point yeah. Is really assessing the needs. Uh, and as you get to those more senior roles, I would say the expectation or the requirement that you are certified, uh, in my mind becomes more important. Um, and then from a PMO standpoint, uh, I actually, uh, helped build Red Door’s PMO about four years ago now.

And really you have to manage that like a project, right? You start with talking to your stakeholders, understanding the challenge that you’re trying to solve, and then coming up with a solution that works for your organization and defining what does success look like? You know, when we roll this out, What are the benefits that we want to be able to realize?

And if you have kind of that vision from the start of here’s what we’re trying to solve, and here’s what success looks like, then I think you can develop a plan and execute that. So it’s really about building it, measuring it, once it’s in the wild, then you’re learning from what works, what doesn’t works and iterating on it.

Galen Low

I love that. I love that sort of iteration and I love the sort of vision aspect of things. And it coming back to what you were saying about the values at Red Door and how having a PMP for the folks on your team actually embodies those values. So it kind of, yeah. It connects in a way it’s not just something you randomly decided because you thought it was a good thing for folks to have is actually the embodiment of some of those principles and some of the values that make your organization what it is.

Candice Wyatt

Absolutely.

Galen Low

That’s really cool. Boom. Awesome. Candice, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been great chatting. I can talk about PMP and certifications all day. Maybe we can do a part two once, you know, we have gotten, or at least I have gotten my feet a little bit wetter in terms of what’s different in the sort of curriculum and the requirements for getting your PMP and what they’ve added in terms of digital.

But we’ll hold that off for like session two and I’ll do my research on it. But. Uh, you know, it’s always a pleasure chatting with you, and I really enjoyed our conversations.

Candice Wyatt

It’s been great to be here, you know, keep doing what you all are doing. The content, the education that you give to the digital project manager community is just great.

Galen Low

Cheers.

So what do you think, do you have a certification in project management? What has it done for you? What would you do differently if you were considering it today? Tell us a story. Have you ever had a client or employer insist that you have a particular certification has picking up the pin box ever been a solution that helped you in your day-to-day job?

Let us know in the comments, and if you want to learn more and get ahead in your work, come and join our tribe with DPM membership, head over to thedigitalprojectmanager.com/membership to get access to our experts forum, our mastermind mentorship groups, our library of mini courses, our live mentorship sessions, ask me anything sessions with a variety of experts, eBooks, templates, and more. And if you like what you heard today, please subscribe and stay in touch @thedigitalprojectmanager.com. Until next time. Thanks for listening.

Galen Low

Galen Low

I am a Client Services Professional and Agile Delivery Specialist with progressive experience driving human-centered digital transformation in government, healthcare, transit, and retail verticals. I manage large, cross-functional teams and executive-level relationships within boutique agencies and large consultancies to drive tangible business outcomes and strategic growth. A few of my specialties: digital strategy, agile web application development, project management, human-centered design, design thinking, innovation & growth, digital government, career coaching, professional development.

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