Rely on Experience, Not Certification

First published July, 2017            

ProjectTimes is a great portal for project managers from all walks of life. When I created it in 1997, it was a cute little magazine for PMs.  Eventually, when people smarter than me got involved, it started to ramp up to what it is now. Well done By the way, its sibling publication for BA’s is just as good (

They excel at finding good writers who have something interesting to say and who say it well.

One of these great finds is a guy named Brad Egeland (  I like his style.

Awhile back, published his article ‘11 Reasons Why My Project Manager Is Better Than Yours’.   

Each ‘reason’ is simple, sound and to the point.  So, while I try to take a little time off this summer, I thought I would use his article to visit some of his ‘reasons’.    

This week’s ‘reason’ why his Project Managers are Better Than Yours…

Rely On Experience, Not Certification

Brad writes “Stocking your PMO with Project Management Professionals (PMP) certified through PMI (and other types of PM certification) may sound like a great idea, but I consider it a very lazy idea. You are choosing based on certification, not on past success or character. Experience and character always prevail in my opinion, and it hasn’t failed me yet.”

I work with hundreds of project managers every year in my role as the National Program Director for Project Management Center of Excellence at the Schulich Executive Education Centre.   Most of them are connecting with me as a student in our Master’s Certificate In Project Management and the number one question on their mind is “is certification worth it?”.  My answer is always yes.  If you can qualify to write the exam, you should do so as soon after your pre-PMP education journey as possible.

This is a pretty simple piece of the equation. Professional certification will never harm you and could very well be the reason your profile gets thrown to the top of the pile for an interview.

But to Brad’s point, this should not be the reason an organization hires you. It may be the reason, however, that you get an interview. Frankly, all the PMP certification says is that you have 35 hours of PM-focused education, 3 to 5 years of PM experience and you can pass a rigorous, multiple-choice exam. 

I have certainly met people in my life that can check off all three points and will never be very good project managers. Well-educated project managers, yes, but practical project managers, no.  It takes so much more to be a good project manager. 

Brad’s article highlights a number of reasons project managers are good that go well beyond certification.  Check out his article now ( if you wish or join me in this space for the next few weeks as we explore his ‘11 Reasons Why My Project Manager Is Better Than Yours’.   


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4 thoughts on “Rely on Experience, Not Certification”

  1. I completely agree – just wish more HR processes did! I’ve seen too many ‘PMP” PMs that really do not have the experience or knowledge to successfully deliver complex projects/programs, however still used as a ‘must have’ to filter applicants.

  2. I remember in “the way back when”, when Microsoft certifications were all the rage. There was a lot of pushback about “paper MCSEs” who had studied for and passed the exam (or memorized the content of a brain dump) vs those network and systems people who knew how to get the job done.

    In my own case, when I needed to look for a new position, one of the things I did was to add some letters (i.e., certifications) to the end of my name and on my resume. The clear intent was to get to the top of the pile, not much more. I figured if I could get in the door, I could get the job, but getting in the door was a significant hurdle. It still is!

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