Using the DOWN-UP Formula to Promote Project Management Education in Nigeria

Looking at the population size and age range in Africa, you could see that the youths and children constitute a larger percentage of the population, and that’s a sign that the continent would not lack workforce in the future. But, if these future workforce do not receive the right education and training, they might be more destructive or less constructive.

These youths and children will grow having different skills set and will end up practicing different professions across various industries, and some, maybe a very few will end up practicing the project management profession. To those of them who will end up practicing the project management (PM) profession, our down-up formula will be beneficial to their career.

What is the Down-Up Formula?

Before I explain what the down-up formula means in terms of promoting and developing the best practice of project management in Africa, let me ask you these two questions:

  1. Which group(s) of persons do you think need more counselling and career advice in project management: The PM Aspirants (here referred to as those seeking to gain admission into higher institutions to study project management), the PM Students (here referred to as those pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree in project management), the PM Graduates (here referred to as those who just obtained a bachelor’s or master’s degree in project management and have no working experience in the field), the Young Project Managers (here referred to as those who have started practicing the profession but lack experience), the PM Professionals (here referred to as those who have gained vast experience in the field of project management) or the PM Consultants (here referred to as those who have specialized in a particular field in project management and are offering professional advice)?
  2. Which group(s) do you think are in the best position to adopt the best practices in professional management: The PM Aspirants, the PM Students, the PM Graduates, the Young Project Managers, the PM Professionals, or the PM Consultants?”

The Down-Up Formula is an educational method by which we aim to create more awareness, promote and develop the best practice of project management in Africa, starting from the DOWN side which is dominated by the PM Aspirants and Students and moving to the UP side which constitute mostly the PM Professionals and Consultants. It’s an educational formula that would be embedded and utilized in our long-term “Project Management for Africa Initiative.”

How Does the Down-Up Formula Work?

If you look at career path of some PM Consultants, that’s from being a PM Aspirant >> PM Student >> PM Graduate >> Young Project Manager >> PM Professional >> PM Consultant, you could see that there’s a step-by-step process from the DOWN side of aspiring to be to a PM Consultant, then gaining admission, studying the profession, becoming a graduate and continuously moving to the UP side of actually becoming a PM Consultant.

Although not everyone starts from the aspiring stage as most “accidental” project managers tend to start from the Young Project Managers’ stage, but you could still see that these step-processes remain true as those “accidental” project managers were once DOWN there as aspirants of other professions who then moved through the stages, did a change of career and then started practicing the project management profession, and some are currently working their way UP to becoming PM Consultants

From the above explanations, you could see that the DOWN-UP formula covers almost every stage or step that are involved in a pursuing a career in project management but, the information or advice that will be shared or distributed at each stage would vary. For the…

PM Aspirants: They are mostly concerned about what project management is all about, who project managers are, what roles they play in the society, and the career opportunities available for someone who decides to study PM.

PM Students: They are mostly concerned about what the PM profession is all about, what courses they would need study and the training and/or career options that are available in the PM industry.

PM Graduates: They are mostly concerned about how they would start to pursue their PM career, that is, should they further their studies or enter into the labour market. If they decide to further their studies in order to gain more knowledge about PM, they are concerned about which post-graduate course or programme to apply for or specialize on and how such course will boost their PM career. If they decide to enter into the labour market, they are concerned about how to create a good PM CV, what entry-level positions are available for young PM graduates, which PM certifications should they apply for that’s right for their career choice, and how they can advance their working career.

Young Project Managers: At this stage, I’m referring to persons who are practising the profession but haven’t gained the needed experience to qualify as Senior Project Managers. These persons are concerned if the job position, organisation, industry and/or sector in which they currently are would develop their PM career in terms of practical knowledge and skills acquisition. They are also concerned about the PM certifications that would boost their PM career.

PM Professionals (Project Managers): I often tell people that you can only become a Project Manager through lots of practical experiences in the field of PM. So as a PM Graduate myself, I’m also looking forward to becoming a Project Manager through learning and gaining more practical experiences in the field of PM. Most persons at this stage have practised the profession and gained experience in various industries and sectors, and they are the ones saddled with the responsibility of institutionalizing and implementing PM best practices. They are no longer at the DOWN side of the formula where “awareness, promotion, counseling and career advice” are basically needed but are at the UP side where “growth, development and advancement” of the PM profession is been institutionalized and implemented. And based on the formula, any person in the PM industry who is at this stage should be concerned about: How much PM knowledge am I passing to those working in my team and/or company, most especially the young project managers ? How can I help transfer my knowledge to the upcoming ones in the industry? How much am I contributing to the growth and development of the PM profession in the country? How can I help to make sure that the upcoming ones in the industry adopt the best practices? Persons at this level should volunteer to speak at PM seminars and conferences.

PM Consultants: This is the pinnacle of the formula. We want our passionate aspirants, students and graduates to aim towards reaching this level. And I’m sure most of you who are practitioners of the PM profession are looking forward to becoming PM Consultants, including myself! I do not need to tell persons at this level their roles as regarding the development and advancement of PM in Africa, and around the world, but they should know that their professional advice can help make or break a young project manager. Persons at this level should also mentor our young PM practitioners.

The DOWN-UP Formula will not only help to promote PM in Africa, but it will also help to correct some of the cultural and educational challenges in project management as we are looking forward to helping Africa raise more qualified project managers who will also understand our local cultures.

I believe that the Down-Up Formula can help, on a long-term basis for project management in Africa. If you are interested in supporting the “Project Management for Africa Initiative or sponsoring any of our events or plans, please feel free to fill in the contact form below:

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Together, we will transform Africa through project management.

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