Project Management

by Debbie Dore, Chief Executive, Association for Project Management

Industry View from

What professionalism means for project managers in a new decade

As the world transforms at unprecedented speed, business leaders are looking for the skills necessary to deliver change effectively. Professionalism, which was once seen as a “nice-to-have”, is now an essential part of the project practitioner’s strategic toolkit.


But as global change accelerates, the concept of professionalism – what it means to be a project professional – must evolve. This goes beyond embracing new technology and processes. It means that people must evolve their sense of self to ensure they have the right mindset to tackle the increasingly complex challenges faced by society.


Project professionals who can rise to these challenges are essential for a sustainable future. This decade is only months old, and already we have seen dramatic evidence of the effects of climate change in Australia, proposals by the American government to speed up delivery of new infrastructure, and the UK embark on the next phase of a project to redefine its role in the world. It is clear that governments, companies and communities will increasingly look to the project profession to help deliver solutions on matters such as these, and many others.

Our Golden Thread research found that the project profession employs 2.13 million full-time equivalent workers (FTEs) and generates £156.5 billion of annual gross value added (GVA) – more than the UK’s construction sector or financial services sector.


The research also found that 40 per cent of project professionals predict growth in project activity by 2022. These findings clearly demonstrate that this project activity – “a project economy” to coin a phrase – is increasingly an essential prerequisite to successful delivery of change. Growth on this scale can only be achieved by continuously developing professionalism among project professionals at all levels, from the classroom to the C-suite. This means redefining professionalism in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, by:

• Learning continuously. Advancing the art, science, theory and practice of project management and the profession can only be achieved with access to innovative knowledge and research programmes. Project managers who proactively seek out new information and insights will be well placed to achieve the highest standards of professionalism.

• Supporting the next generation. Growing the talent pipeline and ensuring future projects are adequately resourced requires a commitment to engaging with new starters, but also with apprentices and students. There has never been a more exciting time to get into project management. Professionals must work to establish it as a career of first choice.

• Developing a broader range of skills. The skills people need to excel are continuously evolving. The most successful project managers will be those who not only show commitment to ongoing learning and development, but also those who embrace mindfulness, wellbeing and key soft skills such as people management.

• Joining communities. Connecting, collaborating and sharing with others is the hallmark of professionalism. Whether it’s networking at events or engaging in constructive online discussion, peer communities offer endless opportunities to enhance professionals’ mindsets.

• Setting new standards. Professionals must aspire to seek out and achieve the highest possible benchmarks. Becoming a Chartered Project Professional (ChPP) is increasingly seen as a way forward.

Project managers are at the forefront of delivering in the face of change – or delivering change itself – to address the new global challenges that demand increased levels of professionalism.


As the chartered body for the project profession, APM is responsible for shaping and supporting this by inspiring the people behind the projects to be the best they can be. We provide a community to our individual and organisational members, wherever they are. We set standards, deliver qualifications, conduct research, provide resources, run events, share best practice and help project managers to connect, learn and collaborate.


In a complex and shifting world, the project profession must be enabled and empowered to deliver better. This is not only good for professionals, but for society as a whole. Because when projects succeed, everyone benefits.

For more information, please visit:

Debbie Dore

Chief Executive

Association for Project Management

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