Project Management

Empowering Youth as Changemakers

1 Apr 2021
Ricardo Triana
Young people are the future, and PMI is serious about helping them acquire project management skills to help them succeed personally and professionally. Ricardo Triana describes the youth scene in Latin America and shares his strategies for engaging young people ages 5 to 29.

Photo by DISRUPTIVO on Unsplash

Young people are an increasingly crucial part of the PMI community. As countless examples from around the world demonstrate, young people aren’t waiting to make an impact on the world. With their instinctive bias for change, tech savviness, collaborative mindset and commitment to social progress, students and young professionals are natural “changemakers”—the very people we want to engage in acquiring project management skills.

In Latin America, we’re convinced that young people are the key to a new, brighter future for our region. Young people make up a large percentage of our population and comprise roughly 15 percent of PMI’s membership in the region. Many students also work either full or part-time while attending university, so they’re already learning project management skills on the job. And, of course, young people aspire to make a positive impact on society and are deeply committed to social change.


Engaging Youth Regionally or Locally

Empowering young people to change their lives and their world is the motivation behind many of our youth-oriented programs in the region:

  • In São Paulo, the PMI chapter developed a year-long program to provide mentoring and guidance to students on how to use project management skills to advance their careers. We have a similar effort underway in Lima, Peru.
  • We’re working with CLADEA, a council of 142 regional business schools, to conduct research, support events with project management tracks and provide case studies, training materials and webinars in both Spanish and Portuguese.
  • For young professionals, we sponsor a joint initiative with GPjr to teach project management skills to young entrepreneurs from Junior Enterprises and to support their start-up ventures. Last year, we expanded our work and launched a competition to recognize entrepreneurial leaders, impacting around 200 entrepreneurs in Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica, Peru and Chile.
  • For high school and even primary-school children, we’re working through the PMI Educational Foundation to teach project management online. We’re also offering a new certification called PMI Project Management Ready that helps kids learn the fundamentals of project management to aid in schoolwork and their personal lives, while obtaining a certification that increases their market competitiveness.


It’s Not Just What We Do, It’s How We Do It

But it’s not only what we do with youth that matters, it’s how we do it. We recognize that young people approach project management with a very different mindset than seasoned professionals. So, we’re conducting research to better understand different youth segments and creating “personas” to further personalize how we approach each segment.

We’re turning to “influencers” to reach more young people. These influencers are usually someone a young person knows and trusts—either in their immediate circle of friends and family or one of the online influencers they rely upon for information and guidance.

Most importantly, we’ve learned not to develop programs for youth but to develop programs with youth. Listening to their needs, understanding what they truly want, and co-creating programs that are responsive to those needs is the only way to drive mutual benefit. It’s not about teaching them; it’s about creating an environment where experienced professionals and youth can mutually learn from each other and create a new reality.

Increasingly, they’re pursuing that new reality through social change. And it’s here that project management skills are critical. Young people have a passion for social change and instinctively buy into the idea that everyone should be a changemaker. Our commitment to increasing our impact by 10X mirrors their own desire to have impact in their careers, in their personal lives and, at a fundamental human level, in their communities.

When we think about working with youth, we prefer to not reduce the conversation and work with only students—it’s about the children working in a group for a homework assignment, students in project management classes, students who are studying for their careers and work at the same and young entrepreneurs who are moving the economy and executing their dreams. It’s about everyone.

The only way we can have a brighter future for all mankind is when all generations work smarter and work together. At PMI, we are committed to being the ones to help make this happen.

Ricardo Triana Ricardo Triana

Ricardo is a seasoned PMP® credential holder with more than 20 years of experience and is Managing Director for the Latin American Region where he will be crucial in PMI's development of an enhanced, local experience for stakeholders in Latin America, creating value for individuals and their organizations.