Interview with Cornelius Fichtner

Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner was a Project Manager for 16 years in his native Switzerland, Germany, and the USA. In April 2004, he received his PMP credential. He has managed projects for a management consulting firm, a national retailer and an internet startup company. He also worked for one of the oldest financial services providers in the USA. His passions include project management methodologies and PMOs.
He hosts The Project Management PrepCast? and is also an instructor for PMP Workshop. He is also the Chair of the 2007 chapter of PMI. He lives with his wife, two computers, and their two children in Silverado California.
Josh: How did you get started in project management?
Cornelius: That was a bit of a coincidence. My career began as a COBOL software engineer. After having worked as a junior developer for 3 years in Switzerland I joined a group called Up with People (www.upwithpeople.com). They are an international educational group with a twist. We performed a musical performance three times per week. We traveled from one town to the next, staying with host families and learning new skills.
After one year of traveling with the group, I returned home to program again. I soon realized that I missed my work with people. I decided to change my career and started to study “organizational planning”, but it’s just project management under a different name. I received a diploma from Swiss Federal Government as an organizational planner. Over the course of 15 years, I managed more and more projects.
Josh: Who are you most inspired by and what have you learned from them in project management?
Cornelius: There is no one person who deserves all the credit. Each of my bosses should get some credit: Andre Bourquin offered my first job as a junior manager and I learned many things from him. Max Wunderlin helped to make sense of company politics and to navigate these treacherous waters. Didier Wetzel helped me to understand project management and PMOs. Kristine Munson, PMP, started my career in PMI. She supported me for six years in our local PMI chapter.
Josh: ? Is the PMP certification helpful in getting PM jobs?
Cornelius: The PMP exam is a must-have certification for project managers in the USA as well as other parts of the globe. You will see the PMP in every job description if you look at current job openings. HR won’t pass your resume to hiring managers if you don’t have the PMP certification. The PMP certification signifies that you are at a “technical” level in project management. For example, you will understand the basics of project management, what a WBS looks like, how important communications are, and can speak the same PM language with other project managers within a company. While it doesn’t tell you how good you are as a PM, it does level the playing field since you have demonstrated that you know the basics.
Josh: What about the CAPM certification to entry-level PM jobs?
Cornelius: The CAPM certificate is non-renewable. While you can pass the exam and become CAPM certified, it is not possible to renew the certificate once it “ends”. You must then go on to become PMP. The CAPM certificate is a great way for junior PMs to show their supervisors that this is the career they want. You show interest and focus by taking the time to pass this exam. On the www.monster.com job site, there are 1,039 job opportunities for PMP-certified project managers. There are only 42 for CAPM. The CAPM will not have any effect on finding a job, but it will have a significant impact on your ability to demonstrate your career goals.

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