PMI Western Michigan Chapter members receive the bi-monthly newsletter publication, On Target, via email.  This publication contains information about upcoming chapter and national events, as well as feature articles about practical project management contributed by local chapter members, PMP certified members, or reprinted publications published by PMI.

If you would like to submit an article for the newsletter, please use this link or contact our Communications Director.  All references must be sited and photographs or other media must have written release.  Submittal cut-off dates and publish dates can be obtained by contacting the Communications Director. 

Previously released newsletters are available in the Archives.

March 2014  

Calendar of Events


April 14, 2014 - Grand Rapids Dinner Meeting with THE Project 2014

THE Project 2014 collegiate presentations begin at 9am with dinner from 5pm - 8pm. Dinner Keynote Presentation will be delivered by Dr. James T. Brown, president of SEBA Solutions Inc.

Held at Davenport University (6190 Kraft Ave SE, Lettinga 227) in Grand Rapids

Registration Information


April 14, 2014 - Reverse Career Fair

A Chance to Interview 60 College Students Learning PM Fundamentals. 

Held at Davenport University (6190 Kraft Ave SE, Lettinga 227) in Grand Rapids

Registration Information

May 12, 2014 - Grand Rapids Dinner Meeting

"Secrets" from Top Project Managers - Presented by Andy Crowe

Bonus topic begins at 5:00pm:  WMPMI Annual Business Meeting presented by the WMPMI Board of Directors

Held at the Holiday Inn Express / Crossroads in Grand Rapids

Registration Information


Reverse Career Fair

The West Michigan Chapter of the Project Management Institute is holding a Reverse Career Fair on April 14, 2014 from 2pm to 3:30pm as part of an entire day of activities for our student competition called “THE Project.”  Project management professionals mentor teams of students during a 4-month competition that focuses deliverables around project management principles and methodologies. 

 This Reverse Career Fair is a great opportunity for companies to speak with and interview Junior, Senior and Graduate level college students with exposure to Project Management.  These are top students from Aquinas, Cornerstone, Davenport, Ferris State, Hillsdale, ITT Tech, Grand Valley State, Michigan Tech and University of Phoenix.

 The Reverse Career Fair is FREE to attend. In a Reverse Career Fair, Colleges set up booths and recruiters walk around to meet with students at each College table. As a recruiter/representative, you just need to speak with students about available internships/full-time positions – no booth needed. Registration is limited to 50 companies. 

Visit THE Project website for more information and to register for the Reverse Career Fair or please contact Kinga Winiarska with any questions.


WMPMI Announcements

Brian Gleason has stepped up to lead the Reverse Career Fair during THE Project 2014. Brian started his journey with WMPMI 2 years ago when he signed on as a volunteer to help recruit colleges for THE Project 2013 as well as co-Championing the University of Phoenix student team.  His recruiting efforts extended into that final event day where he was the ambassador for various College faculty/administrators at prospective schools for the next year’s competition.  He continued within this capacity while he offered to help Kinga Winiarska PMP and Chris Stafford to lead efforts to promote and secure businesses to attend Reverse Career Fair.

Brian attended the Professional Development Day (PDD) this year and represented THE Project 2014. While he was there, he promoted the Reverse Career Fair and informed the PM attendees how they could help our West Michigan Chapter by talking to their employer’s HR departments and recruiters about the value of attending the Reverse Career Fair. 


What I Took From the PDD Event

By Kinga Winiarska PMP

This year’s Professional Development Day has been very memorable. With the theme of ‘Think like a Duck’ to the actual rubber ducks given away by Experis. The focus of course was on Leading your teams and developing the right leadership strategy.

David Barrett covered a subject on how you can improve your skills from a good Project Manager to a great Leader, and how to positively communicate to build the team that can get things done. It was really interesting to know your Social Style and how you can use that to your advantage when preparing your ‘big speech’, choosing your team, or dealing with conflict.

Ted Kallman surprised us with singing ‘Rubber ducky you’re the one..’ reasoning more, that everyone should want to be more like a Duck – a Leader, not a follower. All participants were also given the Professional Assessment on Leadership and Professional Behavior prepared by Trove that was covered in more detail during the event. Rick Forbus, PhD explained what Emotional Intelligence is, how we can recognize it and use it to our advantage. He also explained and gave examples from the audience on Perception of Others, being or dealing with Competitive Types, having Preferred Organizational Culture and how to recognize and approach the different audiences.

Dematic was the headlining sponsor of THE Project this year and they sent Andrew Gill to the event to speak about the THE Project and the positive impact and value it has had for their company in the past few years. Andrew Gill gave a very emotional speech where he highlighted how important the military is and how their skills relate to work environment. He also helped highlight the importance of the Reverse Career Fair and invited everyone to be part of that event on April 14th.


How To Become PMI-ACP Certified Even After A Disappointing Class

By Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM

Even if your classroom experience is disappointing, you can still go on to pass your PMI exam. Felix Rodgers, PMI-ACP, is one successful candidate who had a less than good experience of his training course.“It was really interesting stuff,” he said, in an interview with Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM, host of The Project Management Podcast. “Even though the actual study guide we used in class wasn’t up to par.”

Luckily, Felix had a good trainer who helped to address some of the problems with the course materials. “He jumped in with stories of some of his work experience in large companies and explained some of the projects he worked on. I also learned that my trainer was later hired to update the study guide for the training company and it’s much improved now.” Despite the poor experience of the course, Felix felt ready to take the exam straight afterwards. However, he ended up waiting about a year due to work and personal commitments, although he would recommend others to take the exam as soon as they can.

“I also wish I’d have given myself a little more time to go over all of the different concepts that maybe on the test,” Felix said. “The totality of my experience had been with Scrum, one of the frameworks for Agile that’s part of the test. I felt very comfortable with that, but I was very weak with Lean and XP and they were the things that going in, I knew I didn’t have a lot of experience with.”

Felix bought some books and did some reading, and sure enough, the first few practice exam questions that he took were about Lean. “As you look at those questions, you start to worry: Am I going to have issues with this?” But as his studies progressed, Felix felt more confident. “I can’t stress that enough to people that you have to take practice exams,” he said.“The more testing that you do, the more prepared you’ll be.”

After the classroom course, and his break from studying, Felix spent two or three months reviewing for the exam. Everything in his study plan led towards his scheduled exam date. He studied for a couple of hours on weekdays and longer at the weekends, which is when he took his practice exams. He even considered taking another classroom course, but due to the investment, decided to give self-directed study a chance first.

He used Andy Crowe’s study book, The PMI-ACP Exam: How To Pass On Your First Try. “It’s a really good book,” he said. “I went through it about three times and it has really good test exams in the back. What was interesting about these questions is that when I actually took the test, I wasn’t too far off as far as what I saw in the actual exam.” The realistic questions helped Felix prepare. “It’ll ask a question but it’ll just twist just a little bit,” he said. “It kind of makes you take a second, a third and a fourth look at that question.”

Felix also found the focus on the 12 principles in the Agile Manifesto and the Scrum guide very useful. “If you’resolid with your principles, you always refer back to that,” he said. “If you’re in doubt when answering a question, always rely on what the actual Agile principles say. I did that for more than a few questions.”

On the exam day, Felix was a little late to the test center as he hadn’t worked out exactly where it was. He was able to enter the room without problems and noticed that there were cameras taping the exam and the candidates. “I went through the tutorial just to understand the system,” he said. This was valuable as the majority of Felix’s test questions had been in books. “They walk you through the process of how to mark things, how to go back and once you’re done with everything, you can click to finish. It’s a quick tutorial.”

During the exam, Felix found that his practical experience of managing projects using Scrum for 8 years was valuable, and he was confident with those questions. However, the majority of questions he marked for review were about Lean or XP. He finished in about 2 hours, but thought that was too quick. “Am I going out at a good pace? Am I too slow? Am I too fast? You’ve got to try to pace yourself to make sure that you get everything answered and also that you provide yourself with enough time to go back and review the ones that you had some questions about.”

The bulk of the questions were somewhere between the hard and medium category,” Felix said. Once he had finished the exam, Felix completed the feedback survey and received his results. He had passed! He received his score report, which was stamped in the bottom corner and then he was able to use PMI-ACP after his name.

As soon as he got in the car he posted his results in Facebook, and then started thinking about the next credential he could take, the Risk Management Professional exam. He sees instant applicable value for these courses in the real world. “In the work that I do now for a defense contractor, we’re trying to include Agile into the military and government culture,” he said. “They’re willing to try these types of techniques. I love the challenge of trying to apply things that I know work very well in the commercial world to a world that’s, let’s be honest, is not usually known for quick iterative releases.”

Overall, Felix felt that his study plan combined with practice exams and real world experience helped him prepare, despite his poor classroom course. “It is really important to get a good teacher along with good content,” he said. The Agile PrepCast would have been great for him. “For me it meant a lot of studying but I am so excited to have it and be able to use these kinds of skills and techniques in my current job and in the other future endeavours.”

About the author: Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM is a noted PMP and PMI-ACP trainer. He has helped nearly 600 students prepare for their PMI-ACP Exam with The Agile PrepCast. His interviews with project management experts from around the worlds are available for free on The Project Management Podcast website.