Continuing Education Highlights: 12 Ways I Earned PDUs in 2015

Learning PDUs

Continuing education is a responsibility to maintain your PMP certification. Similar continuing education requirements apply to other professionals such as accountants, physicians and lawyers. Here are my notes on what I learned from a variety of experiences in 2015. I exceeded the PMI minimum requirement because there is so much to learn!

University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies Courses

As a University of Toronto graduate (BA degree and a Master’s), I have found great value in taking continuing education courses with the institution. The instructors bring industry experience from several sectors including IT, government and volunteer work with PMI. Here are the courses I took last year.

1. Project Implementation & Control

This course explored the details of project management control. The most valuable aspect of the course was the multi-part assignment where a project team had to recover a troubled project. I also developed additional Microsoft Project skills with this course.

2. Leading Projects in Organizations

Leadership has been an interest of mine for a few years and it was great to take this course. The course started off with big picture matters such as vision, values and strategy. I found the section on values most interesting, especially the case studies of companies such as Zappos. During the group presentation, I took the role as change management lead at Accenture, a leading global consulting firm.

Project Management Institute PDUs

There is much to learn by learning directly with the Project Management Institute. In 2015, I had the opportunity to take programs with my local chapter and at the PMI Global Congress. Here are some highlights of what I learned.

PMI Southern Ontario Chapter

I am a proud member of the PMI Southern Ontario Chapter. As a member, I have enjoyed participated in a number of learning events and social program as well.

3. Project Management: The Journey from Good to Great

I have fond memories of this session for a special reason. I attended this session the same day I passed the PMP exam (5 Lessons Learned From Becoming A PMP). This event took the form of a panel discussion where consultants and other experienced professionals shared their perspectives. It was a free form discussion and there were some good discussions during the Q&A. It looks like large organizations such as Fortune 500 companies and government organizations continue to be a great place to learn and practice project management.

4. TD Bank: Enabling Project Manager’s Professional Development

There is great value in learning from case studies, especially in project management. In this presentation, Ilana Sprongl presented on TD Bank’s approach to projects and professional development. As an organization with hundreds of projects underway, it was fascinating to learn how TD has grown over time. I also enjoyed this presentation format – a networking dinner followed by a presentation. The world needs more presentations like this – detailed case studies that help the rest of us to improve.

5. Putting Humour to work for less stress and more success

What a fun presentation! I learned about the value of humor to managing stress and improving communicator. The presenter, Michael Kerr, delivered great material and kept the audience’s interest with his energy. The ideas on how to make meetings more interesting were particularly interesting.

PMI Global Congress

In 2015, PMI invited me to attend the PMI Global Congress in Orlando, FL. It was an outstanding experience! I wrote a detailed article about the conference at ProjectManagement.com: PMI Congress 2015: Lessons Learned.

6. Up Your Relationship Skills Index: How to Work with the “Crazy-Makers”

The title of the session grabbed my interest immediately. Philip W. Bristol from Projectivity Solutions delivered great insights in this section. His approach is informed wide ranging professional development including earning the Certified Management Consultant credential. The session offered practical ways to engage with people who make you crazy at work. A key insight – people who drive you crazy (in many cases) simply have a different personality style or different goals. That doesn’t make them bad or irrational, just different.

7. How the U.S. Defense Department Trains its Top Project Managers

Did you know what the U.S. Defense Department has a multi-year project management training program? In this wonderful and detailed presentation, Dr. Owen Gadeken shared how DOD provides project management training. I think we can all learn a lot from the DOD approach. The  Defense Acquisition University provides basic project management training through online courses. The in person sessions are reserved for detailed case studies that use real names and situations. The highest level of the training program includes visits with Congress and others who play an important role in the U.S. military organization.

8. Drew and Johnathan Scott: Strategies for Success: The Scott Brothers Method

Best known for their TV shows about real estate, Drew and Jonathan Scott made a great impression. At first, I wondered if a two person key note address would work well. In fact, it worked well and I learned a lot from the session. Key points include viewing continuing education requirements as a minimum (i.e. keep learning!) and building an effective team. I’m also impressed by the fact that the Scott Brothers have successfully built an organization even though they have different professions and management styles.

Online Education PDUs

Online education has come a long way in recent years. The best online education programs bring high quality materials (e.g. video, audio and written material) and a clear program of study. Last year, I studied with two online education companies. I had a great experience with both organizations. Here is what I learned.

Skillsoft Courses

Skillsoft is a major provider of online education and has been in business since 1998. I’m impressed by the sheer variety of Skillsoft courses available to students. There is much more to learn here. I would welcome the opportunity to work with Skillsoft as an instructor.

9. Achieving Goals through Perseverance and Resilience

Goals are important! Yet, many of us encounter problems and setbacks in the pursuit of the goals. If you have felt like giving up on goals, this course helps you to reconsider. In this course, I learned strategies to overcome problems that occur in the pursuit of a goal. I liked that the course provided practical scenarios involving professionals seeking a promotion and other situations. A key lesson from this program: expect challenges and roadblocks before you start. That way, you will have the right mindset and the opportunity to plan.

10. Getting Results without Direct Authority: Building Relationships and Credibility

This is an outstanding course that I would recommend to every project manager. Like the course above, there are quizzes and scenarios to help you master the content. The course makes a great point that trust and keeping promises are required to build and sustain relationships. All the technical skills in the world will mean little if others do not trust you with substantial assignments and projects.

Lynda Courses

Lynda.com first became known as a provider of high quality video courses teaching photography, design and technology skills. Lynda.com has recently expanded to other areas including marketing, leadership and interpersonal skills. LinkedIn acquired Lynda in 2015 so I expect that Lynda will continue to improve and expand further.

11. Insights from a Project Manager

Imagine watching a documentary interview with an experienced project manager. That’s what you get with this course – a series of Q&A interviews with Bob McGannon, PMP. Topics covered include learning to say no, why projects fail and the PMP certification process.

12.  Time Management Fundamentals

Led by Dave Crenshaw, this two hour course gives a sweeping introduction to time management. The approach covered here reminds me of David Allen`s “Getting Things Done`book. It is great to see that Crenshaw covers digital and physical organization (though the course emphasizes digital). I like that the course starts with basic principles before diving into the details.

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