Sunday, September 18, 2016

PMP Success Story: Own Study, Right Coach and Building High Confidence Made All the Difference

Manoj Sharma felt to be on the top of the world when he saw “Congratulations” on his screen while appearing for the PMP exam! 

He got his credential after a preparation of few months, but his approach was quite different, which you can read below. 

Manoj was part of my class in June 2016. I remember him as someone who listens intently. Also, he was used to a lot of notes – on all the areas I would emphasize as important or key. I think, he would not have missed a single tip/example/trick that I shared in my sessions. 

His experience is quite detailed. Go on and read his unique experience. 


What inspired me to be a PMP?
I have been managing a team for last 3 years. However, I never thought of getting my knowledge translated into a certificate, as I used to believe that real life experience matters more than a paper! But then I met some of the colleagues who shared with me the benefit of getting this certificate and PMP exam journey they went through. It was quite inspiring for me and I told myself “Let me do it”.

How did I choose the provider and the coach?
I was sceptical from beginning from taking any training for PMP preparation as I believe in self-study a lot. But then, after some research over google, I came across the PMP program conducted by Satya as the mentor, read many positive reviews and finally decided to go for it. Now I can see it was a decision well made.

PMP Coaching Experience

How the classroom session helped?
Like many other PMP aspirants, I was initially looking for 35 initial hours of learning only from the training program. However, as I moved through the days in the classes, I got many new things to learn, which would not possible to get exposed to by self-learning. We had many group discussions over some topics which makes you think the topics in depth rather than memorising them.

The PMP classroom session was a great learning experience. Satya shared many live examples which made the tough topics very easy to understand.

What are the key takeaways from the classroom session?
I must say that don’t go to any training expecting that it will make you clear the numero-uno management test of PMP in a span of 2-3 weeks. Have your own preparation first from the easily available online materials and books. Once you are confident that you are having a grasp on the subject go for a coaching program like that of Satya’s. This way you will learn more and can get your doubts and queries answered in a group. It was very effective in my experience. 

What are the areas of discussion which made the differences?
The group discussions during lectures, quiz sections, presentations - all helped to gain confidence in the subject.

My Own Study
My overall preparation time was around 4 months, which I have noted below. And, as said before, my preparation stared before joining the classroom session. 

Initially started with Rita Mulcahy’s book and I was literally clean bowled by it. It made me think that I will never be able to clear the dreaded exam PMP! But soon I found the able support of the book ‘Head First PMP’, which was quite simple in approach and made me confident that PMP exam can be cleared.

I made some notes which I used to carry while travelling to office and back to keep myself fresh on the subject.

I was done with one read of Head First and attempted some online tests, but was still scoring in 60% range, by then I realised that I need to deep dive into concepts to score better. Then, I started searching for an online program for getting the mandatory 35 hours learning to apply for the certification test.

I zeroed in on the program conducted by Satya and started attending his classes. In parallel I was reading the PMBOK and Rita’s book. 

It’s the time when all things started falling into place. I was asking lot of doubts in his classes which I came across while reading the books. Thanks to Satya for clearing all the doubts, which made me more confident. As a result, by now I was getting close to 80% range in all the tests which I attempted.

I didn’t want to delay the exam much further as the more you delay the more you forget. Hence, I took the PMI membership and registered for the exam. I intimated my superiors and previous managers of the content which I was going to put in my application – just in case if my application goes for an audit.

I kept a window of 2 weeks after registration before the exam, and took 3 days off from office before the exam just to keep me relaxed during the preparation window from hectic office environment.

Finally, the day came. I started early from home for the centre took some snacks with me (avoid heavy oily food as it can make you drowsy).

It was as usual traffic jams in Bangalore. But I still managed to reach 1 hour before the appointed time. Be aware that those 4 hrs can be very killing for anyone, so take as many practice exams as you can possible take.

My PMP Exam Experience

What are the type of questions that I faced?
I got very few questions on mathematical and all of them were very simple. I also got many situational questions, some of which were tricky.

There were many questions on stakeholder management which seems an easy topic but there can be very tricky questions made from it. For them to answer correctly you need to back up with your experience.

What was my strategy for the exam?
I was targeting to finish all questions in 3hrs (my first round) and keep 1 hr for attempting the marked ones – question I could not answer initially. But then, reality bites!! By the time I was done with first go, it was already close 3.5 hrs done! I still had close to 20 questions marked. So I devoted the remaining time to marked questions and then felt that it’s getting more confusing now. I took a 5 minutes’ break and after that, again tried to attempt the rest of the marked questions.

And, the final moment.
Just before the exam was about to end, I clicked on the submit button.  I was starting to get tense, after I fill up the feedback form, which comes post submission. But post that, another screen came up, which said “CONGRATULATIONS”! It felt like I was on top of the world.

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
    -  Dos
        •  Be calm, never let the exam fever control you
    -  Don’ts
        •  Don’t follow multiple sources of knowledge limit yourself to 3-4 max which are well known. There are many people and blogs on internet which have wrong or outdated information which will create a lot of confusion and will waste your precious preparation time. Be careful on that respect. 


How I want to pursue my learnings on PMP in my professional and/or personal life?
PMP learning is applicable in both professional and personal life, you need to set up smart goals and pursue them. Take well-judged decisions by cost-benefit analysis, do a documentation of lessons learned, manage your costs and plan well in advance to avoid issues later.

Concluding remarks
If I can do it (2 proficient,3 moderately proficient in the performance domains), you can do it as well. All you need is a plan and stick to your plan. There will be times when you will be pulled to office and personal situations, no matter what happens stick to your goal. All the best!!!

Brief Profile: I am Manoj Sharma and working as a Project Lead with WIPRO Technologies. I have over 11 years of experience in managing Mainframe support projects. 

Manoj’s PMP credential is available at PMI’s online registry.

I am thankful to Manoj for sharing his experience and believe it will help the readers of this blog, who are aspiring to be PMP. 

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