Qualifying as a PMP Project Manager in the Middle East

Bassem Samaha
The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification conferred by the Project Management Institute (PMI) is becoming the expected standard for project managers in the Middle East, South America and South East Asia.

The PMP challenge

I was very keen to complete the PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP) certification as it’s the most globally recognised qualification for project managers. Here in the Middle East, construction project management has become a more established discipline in recent years. Certainly at Faithful+Gould in KSA, and throughout the region, we are experiencing increasing demand from clients seeking a project management-led solution.

As an individual, the PMP identifies me as someone with a solid foundation of experience and education in project management – bringing positive impact to bottom line results. It also provides me with access to valuable knowledge, networks and resources.

Applying for the PMP

First, 35 PMI professional development units (PDUs) are needed to sit the exam and these can be earned through various PMI Registered Education Provider (REP) courses. I have gone through the process application while securing the required PDUs, and used online forums which really helped my preparation. Faithful+Gould’s online intranet platform gave me the flexibility to tap into the vast knowledge of colleagues globally while sharing our constructive expertise.

Exam preparation

Preparing was quite tough and I had to be really dedicated - studying and working simultaneously is a project in itself! But balancing work, life and study was key to successfully passing my exam. Like me, most PMP students have full time jobs, but it’s important to set time aside for exam preparation. The right work-study balance is key to successful study and I needed to prepare physically and mentally for the tough four-hour exam. For me, two hours’ study each day worked well. I divided this into reading in the mornings and practising questions in the evenings.

I’d recommend one to two months’ exam preparation after securing the PDUs. The Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge - The PMBOK® Guide was my essential reading.

Putting theory into practice

What I liked most about the exam preparation is how quickly I was able to apply the tools, techniques and knowledge on real life projects. Learning to use the proper framework to document, archive and retrieve lessons learned, for instance, is making a difference to the success of my projects. Putting the theory into practice is immensely satisfying.

An opportunity for life-long learning

I have really enjoyed this experience and would definitely recommend others to pursue the PMP certification.  As part of the membership, and the continuing certification requirement programme, we are required to earn additional PDUs each year to maintain membership status, and I’m glad that this will encourage me to continue my knowledge acquisition and enhance my personal development.