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Validating PMI Board Participation
By Ray W. Frohnhoefer

Back around 2003, before PMI had an online registry of PMI credential holders, a recruiter contacted me as a local Board member to help them determine how to validate that someone was actually a PMI credential holder. Turns out they sent an “alleged” PMP® on an interview and the individual didn’t even know what PMP® stood for. Turns out it was almost as easy at the time — a quick call to PMI Customer Care was all that was required. A brief consultation and further embarrassment was avoided.

What impressed me at the time was that someone actually thought the value of the credential was so high they would risk lying on a resume and a job interview. But a recession was in progress and the rate of unemployment was high. But today, unemployment is even higher, and so sadly are the claims. A resume recently crossed my desk with the claim “Active in local PMI Chapter and served as Board Chair in 2001″. Having been a local Chapter leader for five years and now volunteering for a Global Operations Center committee, it smelled like an issue from the start. What’s more, this person was within the Region I served for two years as Component Mentor — so I not only have some insight into my local organization, but have friends in and insight into organizations in my region, and indirectly through networking, around the world.

Now I’m obviously not going to give all the details here, but there are records both public and private that tell the history of a PMI Chapter. They are relatively easy to investigate. Today if you browse the web sites of Chapters, you will find that the majority of the Chapters choose either “President” or “Board Chair” as the title for their leader. Still more records are available publicly through past web sites via the Internet Archive. What alerted me to this issue was the Chapter in question has titled their leader as “President” for as long as I can remember and never had a “Board Chair”. The other problem I had was that I was on the Board of my local Chapter since 2001 and was involved in regional activities since 2002 and never heard of this person. I attended the first regional meeting in Santa Rosa California.

Of course this could have been a simple error. However as with any corporate Board, before becoming President or Board Chair, you spend time in another position so as to learn a bit about the organization and its governance. In my case, I spend 2-3 years as Director of Public Relations and then as VP of Communications, before becoming the President Elect. As President Elect, I had only a few responsiblities centered around shadowing the President and developing a forward plan. It would be highly unusual for someone to come on board as a “Board Chair” without first serving in another role. There was no additional information on this resume about previous activity, but at the same time, the individual made it very clear they started as Board Chair. This person also claimed to be “recruited” into the position. PMI Chapter leaders are elected by the members and rarely appointed, usually only to fill a vacancy on a temporary basis.

More than 3,200 volunteers per year lead the geographical communities, ensuring their alignment to the organization and providing value to members. False claims to have been on the Board of a PMI Chapter is an insult to the hard work and what must be hundreds of millions of volunteer hours that have gone into growing the organization for 40 years into what it is today — more than a half a million members and credential holders in 180 countries.

So if you are an employer and you want to check statements such as “I was Board Chair”, there are some reasonable steps you can take to validate this participation. First, since around 2000, most PMI Chapters have had a web presence documenting their current status and history. The Internet Archive is a great starting point because you can enter the current URL and find a snapshot of that web site as it existed years in the past. This particular Chapter put up their web site around 2000 (at least that’s as far back as the archive goes), but documented their elected Board all the way back to 1997 in 2000. I generally prefer not to involve local Board leaders in trivial activities, but if further validation is required or you cannot find the information needed, contact the current Chapter President or Board Chair. To meet various local and international laws and rules, they have access to a system which provides this documentation.

Ray W. Frohnhoefer, MBA, PMP is the Director of the Project Support Office at EDmin as well as a consultant, speaker, writer, educator, and mentor on Project Management. Ray is also the Component Mentor for PMI Region 7 (Southwest North America), a Past President of PMI, San Diego Chapter, Inc., and an adjunct faculty member at three San Diego universities. You can find out more about his professional roles at http://www.edmin.com/company/index.cfm?function=showBioDetail&id=80 and through his blog, Tales from the Project Notebook, at http://projectnotebook.blogspot.com.

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