Let me start the series “Everything you wanted to know about the Past Presidents”, with a very active past president…
I would like to introduce you to Chris Kindermans, President nr 4.
Chris was President of the PMI Belux Chapter from 2006 to 2009. He is still very active within PMI, currently being Board Member at PMIEF www.pmief.org
Going back in time is not the most enjoyable activity at my age, but I will comply…. Because it is PMI that asks for it. 😉
As a first question I would like to ask you: how are you doing?
At my age, I have semi-retired. But I am still alive and kicking in my beloved profession and spending a fair share of my free time as a volunteer for PMI/PMIEF.
How did you come to PMI BeNeLux Chapter? And why do you decided to take the mandate as President?
To cut a long story short … From 1990 till 2002, I have spent a fair share of my time in Paris and other parts of the world in an international role at Bull Computers. In 2000, as VP International operations of the Systems Integration Division, I have decided to have at least 150 of my PM’s certified as PMP’s (and I took the PMP exam also, to be aligned with my staff). In parallel, several of the Bull staff created PMI Chapters in France, Italy, and other places, so they could generate the required volume of PDU’s.
When coming back to Belgium in 2002, I have immediately joined the Benelux chapter, led by Louis Mercken. He was so inspirational that I volunteered on the spot for the role of Director Professional Development in the BeNeLux Chapter. Thereafter, I have contributed to the organization of the yearly Benelux Day’s, … and so on. After 4 years in the Board, doing all types of volunteer work, it was rather obvious that I volunteered for the role of President, which ultimately lead to a double term. In total, I have been for 10 years in the Belgian Chapter Board.
Becoming a volunteer for PMI might be considered as a good drug. PMI becomes an environment of friends, a kind of family. And you love to be with your friends and family. I am sure that other Presidents might have the same feeling. 😊
I fully agree with you 😊
What do you remember from that time?
Plenty of good things. But the Worldwide Recognition Award that the Benelux Chapters received in 2006 for the organization of their ‘famous’ Benelux Days was quite particular. A Benelux day was a kind of mini congress on Benelux level, where all Benelux PMI members could participate, for free. Those Benelux Days are currently replaced in Belgium by the PM Fair.
Remembering those days, I could write several pages, but the spin-off of PMI GD Luxembourg from the PMI Belux Chapter (Louis had already created the Netherlands Chapter as a spin-off of the Benelux Chapter) was also remarkable. On the Chapter side, PMI Belgium was in that period also instrumental in creating the Romanian chapter.
We also created the ‘project manager of the year contest’; we had open chapter meetings (inviting non-member PM’s); we started giving grants to universities for research in project management and, as a chapter, we participated ‘in volume’ to PMI’s regional congresses; after the 2004 tsunami we have organized a study day on post-disaster recovery project management; ….
As said, plenty of good things, too much to mention. One and another was possible due to small teams of PMI friends that were working together for PMI’s good cause.
During your mandate, what is your good experience?
As a member, and during my mandates, I experienced a lot of friendship and camaraderie amongst the PMI community and the Board, in Belgium, in Europe, worldwide. PMI was behaving as a big family and as a family, it was always great fun and pleasure to organize something new or to research something special, … It was like the 3 musketeers: PMI for all, all for PMI.
And what do you identify as a bad experience?
To be honest, in my 21years as a volunteer for PMI, I have never had any bad experiences. One can have the usual misunderstandings/quarrels between volunteers that are all doing their best, but those confusions are usually quickly sorted out. And, as we all know that PM’s have special, usually very strong characters, it came sometimes to rather heavy clashes. It is the nature of the beast. 😊 Some acquired soft skills were always instrumental in sorting out any issues.
But, as said before, I haven’t had any bad experiences to talk about.
If you look into the mirror, how do you evaluate your mandate? What would you do differently?
When looking back at my mandates as President, I evaluate it as quite positive for the Belgian PMI community and for myself. We had important membership increases, we had great activities with very positive appreciation by the membership, we put project management on the agenda in several organizations (later we had also joint activities with Guberna, the Institute of Directors in Belgium), we had more ideas than we could accomplish with the available Board and volunteers, …
I wouldn’t have done anything different, but I could have gone a bit more in creating, not only a bigger membership (quantitative), but also a better qualitative spirit, i.e. we could have created a kind of ‘Guild of the Project Managers’, inspired by and in alignment with the medieval guilds.
And what would you wish it still existed?
The old type of Benelux days, creating a good cooperation between the three Benelux Chapters.
A good relationship between the PMI Chapter and the Business press.
Paying more attention to the content of the profession, lesser to the aim of being certified. Certificates are means to an end, not an end.
How to attract members to become presidents?
As a project professional, become more and more interested in your profession and see where you can contribute to its evolution. Dealing with projects is not done on top of your work, it is your work and it is fun to be a project professional. The profession with the least burnouts.
Get step by step involved in PMI as a volunteer. I started with participating to exam writing sessions (questions for the exams), then I was 4 years working in different volunteer roles in the PMI Chapter Belgium Board. In parallel, I became a member of the GOC CIAC (Code Implementation Advisory Committee), then the Ethics Insight Team, then the Ethics Review committee (Chair 2020), now a Board member of PMIEF. In parallel, I became Chapter President to explore with my Board some new, exciting activities in Belgium, to value and promote the profession.
It is great to be a volunteer, also on international level. But as a Chapter President, with a great Board of volunteers/friends, one can inspire and enthuse the project management community in a country.
Once more, think of a Chapter as of a Guild and become a senior Guild Leader, accompanying the members in becoming better professionals and, as the Medieval Guilds, contributing to the welfare of the community you live in.
What do you advise to the current president and to the coming presidents?
Have an idea, seek some people who have similar ideas and motivation (I recommend a small team. Not more than 7-8 members in a Board, President included) and go for it. But being a volunteer (vrijwilliger) is not without obligations (vrijblijvend). One team, one drive.
Any anecdote to share with us?
In 2006, at the PMI Congress in Spain/Madrid, the Belgian delegation had a great meal in a typical Spanish restaurant. As a hobby, I was taking Improvisation Theatre courses in that period, and the people present at the dinner felt that the President (me) had to give a performance. When you see pictures of Board members kissing each other during that dinner party, don’t be shocked … it is just theatre. 😊
Plenty, but buy me a beer at the PM fair and I will tell you more.
Ok, let’s reserve a beer, I’m very curious 😊
How do you imagine the PMI Belgium Chapter in the future? And how do you imagine Project Management?
Imagining the PMI Belgium Chapter of the future belongs to the current/future Membership, Presidents and Boards. And to quote Frank Zappa: ’A mind is like a parachute, it doesn’t work if it’s not open.
PM techniques will adapt, but Project Management is and will stay a ‘skills for life’. A project professional exists already for ages (how do you think that the Inca’s build their temples?) and will go on existing, maybe in different forms and different flavours.
But, given the current global world, I believe that a project professional who can think for herself/himself will have a great future. Project Management is and will always be a tool for achieving a purpose.
What can I wish you for in the future?
I wish you.
Do I miss an important question for you?
Dear Christine, I think that you covered the most important topics. Thank you for what you do for PMI and for the profession.
Thank you very much, Chris, for your support and your beautiful words.
What do you want to also share with you?
Anyone can always reach out to me. My coordinates are on the www.PMIEF.org website.
And to conclude. Let’s drink to the future of PMI and the Belgian Chapter. Ad multos annos.
I would like to thank you very much, Chris, for agreeing to share your experience with our members and I am looking forward to welcoming you at the PM Fair on 13th of October 2023.