Project Management

Risk Management: Your Next “Must-Have” Certification

21 Jul 2022
Sierra Hampton-Simmons
How you think about risk can make all the difference. As risks become more complex and multidimensional, it’s important to take an enterprise-wide view of the challenges that can derail your project. Sierra Hampton-Simmons, with Grace Najjar, explain how the world of risk is changing and how these changes have informed PMI’s updated risk management certification.

hands framing wood dominoes on tableBy Sierra Hampton-Simmons with Grace Najjar

What’s next on your professional development journey? What new skills do you need in order to enhance your value as a project management professional and make you more effective in your job? 

If you’ve been pondering these questions lately, I have two words for you: risk management. 

Risk management has always been important, but COVID-19 made it top-of-mind for just about every organization in the world. COVID-19 taught us how critical it is to anticipate and respond not just to immediate project-related risks but to major disruptions like a pandemic. It’s not that we weren’t thinking enough about risk; it’s that we weren’t thinking about risk in broad enough terms. The lens through which we viewed the world was just too narrow. 

Broadening your risk perspective—widening that aperture—is one of the principal goals of the updated PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)® certification. PMI-RMP helps project leaders identify and evaluate risks. It gives you a process for mitigating and managing risks so you can maximize business results and achieve desired outcomes. 

Most important, the new PMI-RMP takes a broader approach to risk, focusing not just on project-related issues but on wider enterprise-level risks. Projects, after all, don’t exist in a vacuum. They are part of a broader business and societal environment whose risks very much affect the success of our individual projects. 

And those enterprise risks are growing by the day. The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Risk Report 2022 lays out a range of economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal and technological risks facing our planet. Eighty-four percent of respondents to WEF’s Global Risks Perception Survey are concerned or worried about the world’s future outlook. And 42 percent expect the business environment over the next few years to be “consistently volatile with multiple surprises.”       

Those concerns now cut across all industries and regions—not just the IT, “hard hat” (construction, oil and gas, telecom) and Government sectors that have traditionally been highly risk sensitive. The concerns are particularly acute in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA), South Asia and Asia Pacific regions, where the PMI-RMP certification has been particularly popular.  

“These regions have witnessed huge transformations in recent years,” says Grace Najjar, Managing Director, PMI MENA, “and are developing plans for some of the world’s most complex infrastructure and sustainable energy projects. They are also regions with a high degree of ‘VUCA’—volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. All these factors contribute to increased risks that can lead to project failure, missed opportunities, or significant cost and schedule overruns. A rough rule of thumb: For each billion dollars spent, we put 100 million dollars at risk.” 

Getting our arms around risk is increasingly the job of project management professionals. PMI-RMP is therefore methodology agnostic—suitable for all project professionals regardless of the way you work. To qualify for the exam, we recommend that you have two to three years of experience managing and leading projects and that you also have a couple of years’ experience in risk management.  

While most (70 percent) of current PMI-RMP certification holders are project professionals (with roughly half having “project management” in their title), according to PMI data, the remaining holders are functional managers or C-suite executives. These execs want to gain a better understanding of the language and processes of risk management so they can be more effective stakeholders in the projects they sponsor or support. 

Certification holders are bullish about the value of the PMI-RMP and view their certifications as important differentiators in the job market. PMI data found that:  

  • Ninety-seven percent of candidates who have the PMI-RMP feel they can speak more effectively with others about risk management due to the common PMI language.  
  • Ninety-six percent feel they are better at their jobs, and 82 percent believe they are taken more seriously or viewed as a risk management expert.  
  • Perhaps most important, 62 percent were able to gain a new job or a position with more responsibility. 

One reason for this success: All questions on the PMI-RMP exam have been developed and extensively reviewed by risk managers—individuals who are actively engaged in risk management in the real world. The PMI-RMP is risk management for and by risk managers.  

That real-world perspective is crucial in today’s business environment. Risk management can no longer be approached as a sideline activity. It’s central to the work of a project professional. As risks become more complex and multi-dimensional, risk management is essential for both project and career success. It can help set you apart from peers, earn your colleagues’ respect, and position you as the “go-to” person for critical advice and counsel about both project and enterprise risk.  

Learn more about the PMI-RMP certification here.

Sierra Hampton-Simmons Sierra Hampton-Simmons

Sierra Hampton-Simmons has nearly two decades of experience as an expert in Certification Management with a track record for transforming and developing lucrative brands to include relevant performance-based testing and training. She joined PMI in the fall of 2013 and currently serves as the Vice President, Products. Sierra leads the oversight, planning, and execution of the product life cycle for PMI’s solutions and services, including Certification, Professional Development, Standards & Publications, and the Brightline Initiative. Immediately prior to joining PMI, she was the Manager, Certification Operations at Cisco Systems, Inc. where she directed daily operations for a global development team in creating leading IT certification programs including the world-class CCNA and CCNP. Prior to Cisco, Sierra had a 12-year career with Citrix Education where she managed a team in design and development of the most advanced curricula and certifications for their global programs. Sierra also served as the President of the Performance Testing Council for three years after being an active member of their Board of Directors. Sierra is a graduate of Georgetown University with a Bachelor of Science in Japanese and International Business.