Project management graduate certificate

“Do schools kill creativity?”

This was a controversial topic delivered by Sir Ken Robinson on the TED Talks show on Jan. 6, 2007. He, like several education stakeholders, emphasized the essence of creating an education system that nurtures creativity and encourages novelty.

While arguments from protagonists and antagonists are noteworthy, it can be concluded that certain special programs blend both concerns adequately. Project management is one of these programs as it incorporates processes, methods, knowledge, skills, experience and their application.

“Project management started four years ago with the first intake being one class of about 40 students from around September and January,” said Dr. David McKenna, co-ordinator of the project management program in the Lawrence Kinlin School of Business. “Today, we run 12 months a year and we have intakes in January, May and September.”

McKenna revealed that the program intake has now increased to about 150,000 students at any given time in a 12-month cycle and that the department runs two level one semesters on-campus, one level two on-campus and an online section. “We have 70 to 75 per cent international students from just about anywhere around the world,” McKenna said.

McKenna also added that students usually enter the program with an engineering degree, information technology degree or something related to software. “They have a skills set and in two semesters we teach them how to run a project in their discipline.”

McKenna noted that the students are taught the process in the content no matter what type of projects they embark on, be it building, software or welding. Ultimately, the students can decide to work, get some certifications through the Project Management Institute (PMI) or get some external certifications.

“About 60 per cent of students end up in this discipline,” McKenna noted listing London Life and TD Bank in London as areas where graduates of the program end up working.

“A lot go to Toronto, a number go out west to Calgary, Vancouver and other major cities while some of them go back to their home countries and end up working out there.”

McKenna stated that the standard that Fanshawe uses to teach the project management program is the PMI standard. “It is pretty international,” he said.

On the relevance of project management, McKenna explained that everybody does projects and that they need people to manage them. “Even if they do not become project managers, they earn the skills of how to budget money, how to track budget schedule, how to manage people and there is a lot of good business sense to manage them.”

He added that most graduates of the program end up getting project jobs. “Maybe not right away, but in four to five months they land something. There are lots of opportunities.”

McKenna also mentioned that graduates of project management graduate certificate take operations management or supply chain management as a second program. He described the programs as similar in the sense that they are meant to fix things while most of the fixing is done as a project.

“We are currently investigating a business analyst graduate certificate that we would like to introduce next year, which is the front end project management,” McKenna revealed. “This was a request by international recruiters.”

Co-op or internship options are still not available in the program because of the short duration of the graduate certificate program. However, McKenna advised students to explore volunteer options at the local PMI chapter in London, which has about 650 members. Although unpaid, he explained that it would be a worthy addition to their resume.

Kimberly Francis-Anderson, a level one student of the project management program, described the program as engaging and vigorous. “It is very detailed as each subject focuses on one of the knowledge areas and I find it a great start for people who are new to project management as well as those planning to sit for the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.”

Francis-Anderson encouraged students to read the textbooks and course materials early. “Try to keep up because you can get lost easily,” she said.