In the May issue of Arras People’s project management newsletter, Dan Strayer was talking about the “professionalisation” of project management, and I wanted to add a somewhat contrarian, some would call, heretic, perspective.

First, let me state that I am not an “accidental” project manager. I have over 40 years of project management field experience, mostly related to construction project management and mostly as a general contractor, where my own money was at risk in doing projects. Academically, I hold an undergrad degree in Civil Engineering, majoring in Construction Project Management, my MSc in Project Management and my PhD in Project and Program Management. So my commitment to the practice of project management should be obvious- project management is what I wanted to “do” back in the 1960’s when I was coming of age and project management is still what I want to do when I grow old(er).
My concern, especially with APM’s efforts to obtain Chartered status for project management, but also with the claims of PMI, IPMA and others that project management is a stand-alone profession. As a professional practitioner, I always viewed my PROFESSION to be civil engineering and the approach I used to initiate, plan, execute, control and close those projects to be nothing more than a process, or methodology.

My unease with claims that project management qualified to be a stand-alone profession was sufficient enough that I chose that topic as my PhD dissertation- “Is project management a profession? And if not, what is it?”
(Can be downloaded here

In this research, I looked at project management from the legal, socio-economic and semantic perspectives and compared two case studies- commercial aircraft piloting and construction project management. I chose those, because commercial aircraft piloting does not require a 4 year degree but is generally recognized to be a profession, while construction project management, which evolved from two well established professions- architecture and engineering- has never been quite able to achieve or realize the same professional status as that accorded either the architects or engineers.

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