Project Management Really is a Global Movement

This sounds basic and maybe even obvious but it took a trip this past weekend to the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Region 8 Leadership Conference for me to really get this.


I traveled to London, UK on Friday to sponsor this event and promote my professional speaking life to the European chapters making up Region 8.  The meeting was a real eye-opener to say the least.


It wasn’t necessarily the breadth of the PMI that astounded me but the breadth of the ‘community’ of project management.  I knew the PMI numbers going in:


  • approximately 450,000 members today
  • over 650,000 that are holding the PMP professional designation in good standing (Project Management Professional)
  • 280 chapters around the globe.


GlobeBut here is the number I love to show any PM audience that I am talking to: the PMI has for most of its life handed our sequential numbers to it new members.  I joined in 1997 and received the number 64,176.   Today’s newest members are getting numbers in and around the 2,700,000 mark!  Stating the obvious, 2,700,000 people have been a member of the PMI at one time or another since its inception in 1969.  That’s huge.


The PMI is not the only association for project managers in the world.   There is the International Project Management Association (IPMA) with around 140,000 members. The Association for Project Management (APM) with about 25,000 members.  There are a few other smaller related organizations.


Someone once asked me if I had an idea of how many people in the world were currently practicing project managers.  On the spot, at the time, I made up a formula and estimated the number.  I figured that the membership of the PMI and other associations probably made up about 10% of the project management population at any time.  Over time, as I repeated it and tested it on others this number seemed to hold water.  Thus the current number of project managers in the world today, by my personal estimation, might be about 6,000,000.


Today, project manager really is global.


There I was at dinner on Saturday night at the event in London with my two new Israeli friends to my left, two delegates from Sweden to my right and the attendees from Germany across the way.  The Germans were representing four chapters: Cologne, Munich, Frankfurt and Berlin.


These people were all executives of their local PMI chapters – all volunteers here to grow as leaders and add value to their local project management communities back home.


But they all have day jobs.  One was working on a nuclear power project in Moscow. Another is a software development project Leader in Bulgaria.  I met a construction engineer turned project manager from Scotland and an independent project management consultant working away in Rome.


These chapters, and their volunteer leaders, are dedicated to growing the community of project managers in their regions regardless of whether or not they join the PMI.  One woman I met on Saturday has the role of corporate development for project management in Slovenia.  In Slovenia, she explained, the largest telecoms and banks had embraced project management but very few other local companies have embraced the benefits of this discipline.


Really global.  It was a real eye opener for me.  Fabulous people, bright minds, passionate volunteers and great examples for their local communities of project management professionals.


And the crazy part is that this is just Western Europe!  Next stop: regional leadership meetings for the Far East, Asia Pacific and then to South America and Africa.


I remember someone telling me 18 years ago that I was jumping on a ’bandwagon’ and that project management was just a ‘wave’. Oh how wrong they were.


Images provided courtesy of


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