It would be natural to assume that some qualifications are required for this type of role. Our sector is full of highly qualified experts with PhD level degrees, formal accreditations and membership of chartered bodies: medics, pharmacists, patent agents, qualified persons, engineers and more. However, we find people in project management roles that do not have any formal PM qualifications. Indeed, although many more people are now studying them, it’s still not seen as a mandatory requirement for selection into these roles.
Also, the opposite is also the case: having qualifications in project management does not mean you can easily get a relevant job in Pharma, without relevant experience.
This is evidenced by the fact that most Pharma PMs take on the role after an initial career as a professional in science, technology, manufacturing or marketing. There are two considerations in particular for suitability in this role, within the life science world: firstly there is a high need for a relevant functional grounding to demonstrate credibility to lead a cross-functional group of experts. Secondly, that the leadership role itself operates in a complex, uncertain environment, where the relationship and facilitative skills of the PM are much more important than a deep knowledge of processes.
PIPMG has been monitoring this situation for a long time. Ten / fifteen years ago we held several networking meetings to discuss the topic. At the time there was a majority feeling that a stronger push for formal accreditation was a distraction from the second point above. But things are changing. These days, as we said above, many large companies still don’t insist on relevant qualifications as a prerequisite to appointing someone as a PM. But often now, when they start, it’s mandatory to embark on them. Typically a professional accreditation such as the ‘PMP’ from the Project Management Institute (PMI) or the equivalent from the Association for Project Management (APM).
Traditionally, these associations have been much more representative of industries such as construction, logistics, telecoms and engineering than of BioPharma. But they are looking to change this in coming years.
The APM offers Project management qualifications at all levels, presenting a clear route to achieving Chartered Project Professional status (ChPP).
People just setting out in a PM role can take the ‘Project Fundamentals Qualification’. (Note that the PIPMG PM Development Program covers the key knowledge aspects of this qualification).
People can continue to build their knowledge as their PM career develops by taking the APM ‘Project Management Qualification’, and the ‘Project Professional Qualification’.