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The Need for an Annual Project Management Award

Celebrating success and excellence in different disciplines, professions and industries is endemic in today’s award-heavy world.  But some areas are notable for their lack of recognition of individuals’ achievements. One good example is the lack of awards available to celebrate our most successful projects and project managers.

Some countries do have awards but without a high international profile. For example, the Association for Project Management in the UK issues annual awards in thirteen categories including both awards for practitioners and academics. They also have a lifetime achievement award for those giving the most to the profession.

Other countries have yet different award systems, each reflecting their strengths and different areas of focus.  I believe that there is room for a new international awards structure that reflects worldwide project management values.

To start with, I believe that we should have academic awards.  The profession has grown dramatically over the past decade or so, as tens of thousands of students complete degree and non-degree project management training programs at universities, community colleges, and through private training providers.  A number of educational institutions in North America and around the world offer project management certificates or degrees. It should be possible to invite these institutions to nominate their top students each year for an award

A second category of awards would focus on the project managers themselves. An international award recognizing top project managers would help to provide focus for the profession, would identify role models, and would foster a community of top managers..  Awards should be based upon consistent performance across a number of projects, plus giveback to the profession (through conference presentations, writing articles or books, participating in standards development, mentoring, etc.), with a recent focus project being heavily weighted in the mix.

A third category of awards would focus on successful projects across a number of key areas:

  • Public-Private Partnerships – A current focus of many governments where they seek to work more closely with industry to improve the efficiency of public-sector projects. 
  • International Development Projects – This would recognize project managers who have given generously to support those around the world who are less fortunate.
  • Environmental Projects – As we struggle to shift into a more “green economy” through new technologies and process innovations, let’s celebrate these successful projects so that more companies may feel safe taking bold steps implementing change.
  • Technological Innovation – An award to celebrate technological innovations will highlight project management  leadership in this area.
  • Non-Profit Sector Projects – Like so manygroups, project managers spend a lot of time supporting many non-profit groups. This award will highlight the projects that make best use of these volunteer resources to achieve great ends.
  • Resource Sector Projects – This category would reward the most successful projects in the resource sector, including resource extraction (mining, oil and gas), forestry, the fisheries, and agriculture.

Each of these awards could have national finalists/runners up and then an international  winner. 

For the utmost credibility, such awards should not be offered by a for-profit consultancy.  Similarly, as PMI chapters are legally branches of that U.S. organization, and since they each have limited geographic scope, it would not make sense to have them administer these awards.  I think it would be best if these awards were offered by an international non-profit association, possibly a new organization set up solely to administer these awards.

So, now I’ve shared my vision for a new international national project management awards program.  Tell me what you think with your comments at the end of this piece.  By working together, we can build an international awards paradigm that would have broad-based support. 

Kevin Aguanno is a PMI-certified Project Management Professional (PMP), and his competence is certified by IBM as a Certified Executive Project Manager and by the International Project Management Association (IPMA) as a Senior Project Manager (IPMA Level B). He is the author of over one dozen books on PM-related topics. Find out more about agile project management in his free AgilePM Newsletter at

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