26 PM NETWORK MARCH 2016 WWW.PMI.ORG
VOICES In the Trenches
How you can help military service members discover civilian project management.
By Jay Hicks, PMP
Jay Hicks, PMP, is a retired lieutenant colonel in
the U. S. Army, co-author of The Transitioning Mili-
tary Series and co-owner of GR8Transitions4U.
PEOPLE WHO SERVE IN THE MILITARY make
big sacrifices for the good of their country—they
often have to leave their families for long periods
and put their lives on the line to protect us. So
when it’s time for military service members to
transition into a civilian job, it can be our turn
to help them. As project managers, we are in a
unique position to do this.
The military is a highly projectized environment.
And that makes many veterans ready for the civilian
project management world. As in the civilian world,
military missions require a sophisticated understanding of complex interrelationships from setup to
completion. Whether maintaining equipment, building a temporary shelter or planning a defense, all
military personnel are intimately familiar with initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, controlling and
closing. Service members also generally have superb
leadership, communication and teamwork skills.
They know how to work a multitude of simultaneous requirements, how to talk to senior managers and, above all, how to get the job done.
In other words, military men and
women from countries
around the world perform
service men and women
have no idea how well-
suited they are for civilian
project management. Despite
their experience with daily military
planning, executing and monitoring activities,
service members often find project management
methodology and terminology in civilian work
Yet with an understanding of project management
concepts commonly used by a corporate or govern-
ment team, military service members can transition
smoothly and successfully to this career field. They
need the confidence to know that their military expe-
rience has prepared them for professional project
management. And military service members need to
be able to translate, repackage and certify their skills
so hiring managers can spot them.
A great way to achieve all this is through networking. After realizing they’ve been performing
project management for years, service members
will feel empowered to translate their skills into a
certification and explain the value of their experiences to civilian hiring managers.
Unfortunately, transitioning service members
are often unaware of their local project management community. PMI has been working to raise
awareness of project management opportunities
among military veterans, but you can help too.
Chances are you know veterans or military members. Seek them out and engage them, keeping two
points in mind. First, understand that military service
members want your help. They want to know that
they can be successful as a civilian project manager.
Second, know that you are an enabler. You now
understand the close kinship between military operations and project management. When you have
the opportunity, discuss the alignment of project
management with their military service. You will be
amazed with service members’ level of understanding
and interest in learning the methodologies of project
management outside of the military.
Stepping up to provide this support will be of tremendous service to these young men and women:
It will encourage them to pursue the field of project
management and obtain the necessary credentials.
Your efforts can empower service men and women
to find high-quality jobs after their military service.
Helping transitioning service members get hired is a
way of thanking them for protecting us. PM
is a highly
And that makes
ready for the