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Near Or Far, We All Speak Project Management


As a newcomer to PMI and proud owner of a CAPM® certificate, I enjoy being in the thick of things: embracing knowledge, exploring the world of Project Management through PMI, and making new acquaintances.

I am a Hungarian from Budapest, born and raised in Romania. Norway is my third and current country of residence. Nevertheless, I like to say that no matter where the wind blows me, I stay true to my roots.

Being quite new in my volunteer role at the PMI Norway Chapter, I enjoy my tasks and simultaneously do my homework as a certificate owner. To sustain a certificate, one must acquire a great deal of new knowledge and give back to the profession, which means I have to produce content myself or volunteer for PMI. Or both. I chose to do both because it is fun.

Part of the fun is meeting fellow chapter volunteers locally and internationally, online, and face-to-face, and that brings me to the interview I recently did with two esteemed colleagues from the PMI® Hungary Chapter: Dezső Dudás PMP®, Chapter President, and Gábor Lipi PMP®, ATP Instructor at Profexec Services Ltd.

PMI Hungary Chapter is a team of dedicated volunteers who for so many years have been making sure the chapter runs like a well-oiled mechanism. I am curious what lies behind their success, how they build their army of volunteers, what are their methods in retaining and recognizing them and what is the key to success, when it comes to organizing conferences and events like the Art of Projects, which has been attracting an increasing number of project professionals from all over the world, for over ten years now.

AR: I am so delighted that both of you accepted my invitation. There are two reasons we are here today: firstly, I am interested to find out as much as possible about partner chapters. Secondly, I am eager to hear your impressions about the Art of Projects event the Chapter has recently hosted in Budapest. But first let us start with the introductions.

DD: my history in PMI is somewhat shorter than that of Gábor's who has recently been granted the 20-year PMI membership award, but I began to show interest in PMI when I was working as a Project Manager for the first time, and I was looking into alternatives and various certifications in the field of Project Management. PMI was a smart choice being internationally acknowledged, and it offered a substantial amount of learning and the PMP® certificate was hard to get. Our company decided to invest into a prep course, and we landed on the consultancy firm Gábor worked at. That kickstarted my PMI® and Project Management career. In 2018, I decided to get involved a bit more in the life of PMI® Hungary Chapter, so I volunteered. Things accelerated afterwards, I delivered lectures at the Vienna Chapter, took on the role of PMI® EF liaison, secondary education, university contacts were more in the focus. I became Vice-President of the Hungary Chapter, contributed to the update of our website and implemented IT assignments. Not exceedingly long ago I took over the role of Chapter President and nowadays I am engaged in authoring a book and a postgraduate collab with the Corvinus University of Economics in Budapest, where I teach Project Planning. This activity of the Hungarian Chapter is beneficial and could be adapted elsewhere, too.

GL: I have been active in Project Management for 25 years. I started my journey at the consultancy firm Szinergia and joined PMI® in 2001. A very inspiring event in my Project Management life was a PMI® World conference in 2001 in London, where I learned a great deal of interesting facts about PMI® and the dominant trends in the profession. I focused mainly on PMP® prep courses, Project Management consultancy and the development of Project Management systems since 2003, the year I acquired my PMP® certification. Our paths crossed each other several times since and we had different collaborations. At the time PMI® Hungary Chapter was founded, I was volunteering in the Board of Directors of the Hungarian Project Management Association for a period of 9 years, and we were actively participating in mentoring the process of building up the Hungarian Chapter, desired by many. The amount of knowledge, information, and systems PMI® carries, represents an outstanding value for me and I have decided to go for the Authorized Training Partner (ATP) qualification both for PMP® and CAPM® prep courses. There has been a strong focus in the Hungarian Chapter on having the different editions of the PMBOK Guide translated into Hungarian, to provide support to those who represent the Hungarian Project Management profession. My contribution to this process was proofreading.

AR: Do you happen to know how many Project Managers in Hungary possess a PMP® certificate and if they are PMI® members as well?

DD: The estimate is around 1,200 and the number of our members is a little under five hundred. Is it too much, too little? I do not know. But in my experience, nowadays a certificate issued by PMI® or a similar provider, is an advantage to have in one's CV in the labour market, although rarely a requirement in hiring processes.

AR: How active is PMI® life in Hungary? Do you have a strong presence on social media and at events?

DD: You should ask Gábor about this because he surely has an impression about PMI® from the outside. From the inside, I would say PMI® is very much present in my life, as a matter of fact, too much. In short, whatever we put out there, be it an event, a seminar, you name it, it is sold out in no time. We are fully booked and never have to hunt for guests. We have an online event that occurs every other week and has several hundred attendees. Our face-to-face events are very much in demand, be it a book presentation, greeting new volunteers, mentor-mentee meetings, or the Art of Projects (AOP). We must always cut the deadline for applications. I do not know if this amount of activity is sufficient for Hungarian members, but the day has 24 hours and we simply have no more capacity, even if there were a huge demand for an AOP every two weeks. I find it important to mention that it is not always the same people who attend our events, although we have a reliable core group we can count on every time.

AR: Does the size of Hungary compared to Norway and the geographically more favourable and accessible locations hold the promise of key to success?

DD: Though Hungary is small, we are all concentrated in Budapest, but we intend to change that. I come from Szeged, a big city about 250 km from Budapest, therefore it is important that we reach out and try harder to involve as much of the country as possible into Project Management life. We have initiated a post-graduate collab at the University of Debrecen. Virtual events are still a great tool to reach out to the greater PM community, there are no boundaries in terms of the number of participants there.

GL: I would like to mention the PMPubs, where I played a decisive role in organizing them. It is a great opportunity for project enthusiasts to meet in a casual environment and have great conversations on the topic of Project Management.

DD: Then came along Covid 19 and put this great routine on hold, but there is a huge demand to pick it up again. Communication is in English which is very welcome among the Hungarian Project Manager society since it provides the opportunity to talk Project Management in English.

AR: This sounds awesome! Can we adapt it?

GL: Be my guest.

AR: How do you recruit, retain, recognize members, and build strong relations?

DD: Well, it is not that sophisticated here. There is a basic constraint: you must be a member at PMI® to become a chapter member. It involves substantial financial commitment. In the beginning you have access to a huge knowledge package, the PMBOK Guide, but to keep it going for many years, can be a challenge, despite the Guest Pass program. Like I mentioned earlier, we have about five hundred members in Hungary Chapter and the number of PMI® members is about nine hundred. We greet new members once or twice a year, send out reminders about expiring membership, if a member intends to leave the chapter, we set up an interview to ask them about their experiences. We have an event series we call Volunteers Day, where we greet newcomers. Another incentive we have is the President's Award, where we recognize the biggest contributors. Whenever we publish an event where we need extra support and volunteering, people tend to flock. Where we do have shortage though, is people who can guide and mentor the volunteers.

GL: I explain to people who attend my prep courses, why the PMBOK Guide is not included in the course material. I suggest they join PMI® for USD 139, because membership comes with a bunch of benefits: a huge discount from the PMP® exam price and you can download the PMBOK Guide and an infinite amount of learning material. Moreover, if you join the local chapter, you can enjoy extra benefits for a modest membership rate: discount prices on all events, prep courses and so much more. That sounds great, right? PMI® Hungary Chapter also provides a list of the ATPs who offer a discount from the prep course price for PMI® and PMI® HU members. It`s a win-win situation.

DD: You are so right! I realized we must recruit people to PMI® first and then they will join the local chapter. It is a strategic decision or twist if you like. We must promote PMI® first. I met a highly ranked governmental official yesterday, and he had no idea PMI® existed, despite he was in numerous undertakings which should be treated with a project mindset. As you see, we have much to do. Just think about this: if you pay your annual membership, you have minimum one year to collect your PDUs.

AR: I could not agree more. It is up to me how many hours I want to spend learning, reading, listening. Possibilities are endless. I have been a member since 2022 and already met so many people, learned a lot, collected a great deal of PDUs and see the world from a new perspective.

DD: One aspect is to join, sit the exam, collect the PDUs and sustain the certificate. The other aspect is the newcomers. They join because of the benefits, yet some decide to quit. Events are impactful: they help members grow their professional network, a topic we intend to focus on even more in the future. When you start chatting with a fellow PM at an event, you quickly realize you have the same professional challenges: people. You must deal with people. This is the strongest bond ever between people in the PMI® community. Norway is no exception either, I believe. The common knowledge has extraordinary power, the power of retention. Let us remember that. We have a growing interest from the younger generation: they need mentoring. There is an excessive demand for our mentor-mentee program. It has a huge community-building impact, and you can be a mentor without being a member, you know? Giving to the profession is what matters. This program does not require too much effort from the Chapter: we announce the program, the applicants fill out a form available centrally and we have colleagues who do the matchmaking, they are free to choose the topic. It will be personal, tailored, confidential, and it happens online. We do not steer the contents, need no feedback, yet there is an evaluation and a mentor-mentee dinner at the end of the program, which everybody looks forward to.

AR: Do I get this right? Is it of utmost importance that people meet up in person?

DD: It certainly helps, our one-hour Lunch and Learning sessions every two weeks are a proof of that. The Lunch and Learning dates are already fully booked for the following 5 months! On these occasions we approach PM from further away, other times the topic is more specific. Sometimes we invite non-PMI® people to talk about special projects that attract an even larger audience. Anyone who wishes to share their experience or say something that may carry a value of novelty to the profession, like a specific approach to a challenging task, is welcome to speak. Another way of doing this is when the Chapter spots a project professional, they wish to have on board for a Lunch and Learning session. The Chapter will invite this speaker. All these activities increase visibility and awareness of PMI® and most companies whose Project Managers participate in these sessions during work hours, recognize the potential, give their consent, and provide the financial support, namely cover the fee of the session. Thus, people are not obliged to use their vacation days to attend such events. Some employers even cover the fee of prep courses and PMP® exams, which is a very generous contribution. The way we imagine a good kind of collaboration with large companies, like the National Oil and Gas Company or Robert Bosch, is that in return for them investing into PMI® membership for their Project Managers, they obtain invaluable knowledge packages. An example of great outcome of such a partnership is that BOSCH provided their outstanding venue for the AOP conference free of charge.

AR: Does social media represent an added value to PMI® Hungary Chapter in terms of recruiting new volunteers and promoting various activities? If so, which platforms are most beneficial? And do you have someone in your team to provide for communications tasks?

DD: We do have a volunteer responsible for communications tasks, but the intensity of contribution varies. The team usually operates in a way that everyone brings to the table what they know and for what they have capacity. I think, social media can be country or community specific, Linked-In dominates more in Hungary, we think that Facebook is not so much targeted at a professional audience. Overall, I would say there is an extreme amount of “noise” out there and one has to be really good in getting the attention of the public and there is room for improvement when it comes to utilizing the possibilities these platforms offer. As a conclusion, PMI® receives more attention via our professional relations than social media platforms. We would rather use social media as an extra support to our initiatives.

AR: Once you are a PMI® member, there is an overwhelming amount of information you might have to process. What can you do locally to strengthen your position, so to speak?

DD: We share information of local relevance: available jobs, support to people in finding their way in the world of PMI®. Newcomers might find it very intimidating to filter information on the different PMI® pages. We provide extra information on the difference between PMBOK Guide edition 6 and 7, or how to interpret prep courses aimed at agile Project Management.

AR: Art of Projects. Why Budapest?

DD: This was the 11th year, and the Art of Projects event is the brainchild of PMI® Hungary Chapter. There was no precedent for this.

GL: 11 years ago, PMI® Hungary Chapter aimed for a position in the Hungarian scene of conferences on the topic of Project Management, and the main idea was to bring an English language conference to Hungary. The idea was presented to PMI®, who gave their full support, resources, and top-level speakers to the Art of Projects Conference.

DD: The AOP Conference is an entirely locally organized event. The support we can apply for, is related to marketing or covering of the travel and accommodation expenses of speakers. We do not have to cover the expenses related to the presentations, since the speakers are delegated, and their fees are covered by the global organization. Our AOP conference is fully organized by the volunteers of PMI® Hungary Chapter, the technical part is outsourced to an event specialist. The Chapter must book the speakers well ahead of time. This year we had around three hundred participants, the fee for a one-day program like this is 100,000 HUF, which equals a little under USD 300. The price is a true reflection of the program quality you get in return. The AOP conference does not aim for profitability, but I am proud to say that the balance was positive this year as well. It was a well-deserved result of a day packed with sessions and additional events and exhibitions.

AR: Were there any especially difficult challenges in relation with AOP?

DD: The event itself is well-known, we have a lot of good routines in place, yet a certain level of stability is required to make large sponsors cover for the expenses of their employees. The event venue can also be a bigger bite: the previous location was in Budapest city centre, but the conference grew and that required a new location. We opted for a more suburban venue, with a generous lobby space and opportunities for potential growth. This year we were supported also by many chapters in terms of publicity. As president, I am happy for this interview question, because I wish to emphasize the importance of tighter connections between the chapters. We are members of a group of six chapters, who organize smaller conferences in this region. The other five members are Slovakia, Northern Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, and Austria.

AR: Impressions about AOP? AI is the hot topic, right?

DD: Yes, and I must say I was surprised, because I thought the general attitude towards AI was going to be everybody knowing already everything about this topic, but one of the sessions – speaker Jennifer Tharp  -, was particularly interesting: we should not be concerned that AI will replace Project Managers. Do not panic. AI offers a multitude of useful tools for us PMs, but the understanding of the environment and holistic approach to the complex task ahead and the internal dynamics are things AI – in my opinion - cannot provide for any time soon, even though we surely need support from it to implement certain elements in a project. It is like the age of digitalization when everything became computer aided. Planner still does planning, but not on paper anymore. This is how I see the role of AI, in relation to what was presented at the conference.

GL: In one of the presentations, a lady demonstrated on the page of ChatGPT, how in a project situation a business plan, a risk analysis and a presentation are put together with the help of AI. The result was quite interesting and usable. We must learn to ask AI the right questions. I was very much inspired, if you ask me, and have been keen on trying out a bunch of things with AI since then. I asked AI to generate CAPM test questions about business analysis or agile-related topics and little effort was needed from my side to make sure I got the desired output.

DD: You hit the nail on the head, Gábor, when you mention the human effort/intervention. That is what makes the output even better. Without human intervention, it is incomplete and imperfect. It is a great tool that helps us reach our goal.



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