Jaime Alonso Candau currently works as a Junior Project Manager at PH Mallorca. Aside from his day job as a junior project manager, he also dedicates some of his time to helping others get into PM and pass the PMP® exam. His experiences during his preparation for the CAPM® exam have led him to create OpenPM, an open platform that offers free PMP® resources, exam simulators, exam questions and also PMP® Progress Tracking.
In this interview he talks about his beginnings in the profession, the challenges he has had to deal with while working on projects and how he learns through his everyday job. In the end, he gives his advice to other young professionals that aspire to become project managers.
PMTips: You work as a Junior Project Manager for PH Mallorca. What was it like the first time you started working as a project manager? What were your initial impressions? Do you have an interesting story from that time that you would like to share?
Jaime Alonso Candau: I have always loved project management, so when my application was accepted I first was very excited and then grateful for the opportunity to work here with the best partners/mentors I could ever have dreamed of. We work on very interesting projects and into every detail of our villas, so it is challenging and rewarding to achieve and maintain the quality PH stands for.
PMTips: To some people a project manager sounds like a rather fulfilling job title, but there must be more beneath it all. What is your view of the profession and what are the positive aspects of working as a project manager even as a beginner?
Jaime Alonso Candau: I see project managers as project leaders. It is not only to keep your project aligned with cost and schedule baselines, but also to keep the people around you motivated and being part of the project. I am always open to technical or organizational proposals that can improve processes or technical details. At the office, we discuss issues quite often, that is very enriching and fasten the learning process.
PMTips: Some would say that the work of a project manager is not easy and that it comes with responsibilities and obligations. The same applies even to young professionals like yourself. What are some of the challenges that you as a junior project manager have had to deal with?
Jaime Alonso Candau: Yes, we are responsible for project failure as well as project success. In one of my first projects, the sponsor was increasing the project scope weeks before project completion. Schedule baseline was quite tight, they already had fixed a date of guests coming to the villa to spend their holidays. We always do our very best to satisfy our customers´ needs, so we had to crash and fast track activities during weekends to get the project finished just the day before guests came in.
PMTips: You are the person behind OpenPM, an open platform that offers free PMP® resources, exam simulators, exam questions, but also PMP® Progress Tracking. What was the inspiration and intention behind the creation of the platform?
Jaime Alonso Candau: Well, it all started beginning of 2018, I started preparing for CAPM® , but actually studying from PMP Preparation resources. I realized there were not many free resources online, so I started to engage with the community by adding one PMP® Exam Question each Saturday and its solution and explanation on Sunday. After weeks doing so, many students leave their comments and get involved with my weekly PMP® Exam Questions, so I launched a first basic platform to share more free content with them (exam simulators, study notes, etc.). A month ago, we released a new advance and open platform in which students can save and compare their result with students´ average with beautiful charts, we keep adding new free content every week and now count with more than 500 free PMP® Questions organized by knowledge areas, process groups and other special selections.
PMTips: In terms of the PMP® Progress Tracking available to users on your site, can you tell us what its value is for both students and professionals that are willing to take exam? In what way does it ease the process of preparing for the exam?
Jaime Alonso Candau: Yes, our new platform allows students to visually track their progress on our categorized PMP® exams which enables them to recognize which chapters or sections they should review or study again. We optimize the study process by letting them know where they must focus on. They only need to log in and start doing Free PMP® Exams. At any time, they can go into their profile section, check and compare all their results.
PMTips: In your personal opinion, what are the benefits of acquiring the PMP® or CAPM® certification? Since you are a Certified Associate in Project Management, can you share with us the benefits the certification has brought to you ever since you acquired it?
Jaime Alonso Candau: CAPM® /PMP® teaches the global language of project management and a set of competences and skills to manage your projects properly. It helps you in many ways, not only to accurately communicate with stakeholders but also the tools and techniques every project manager has to take into account when managing a project. It has become an essential that big companies require when hiring professionals.
PMTips: Through your platform OpenPM you provide exam questions on a weekly basis as a form of free training for the PMP exam. What is your advice to project managers who are willing to take the PMP® exam? Are the quiz questions helpful when it comes to preparing for the exam?
Jaime Alonso Candau: Preparing for PMP® Certification takes months, my advice is to establish fixed dates for each knowledge area and for the PMP® Exam and, pay for it!, at the end of each, it is a good idea to test yourself with categorized PMP® Exam Questions. They are quite helpful when preparing for PMP® , I always recommend to do as many as possible.
PMTips: What advice would you give to all the young people and junior project managers that aspire to build a career in the project management field? What is the best way to deal with the initial responsibilities?
Jaime Alonso Candau: Project Management jobs are not easy to get for non-experience applicants. I would recommend to specialize, you will need project management education before being hired. First class education is two clicks away, I carried out online Construction Management Specialization by Columbia University and recommend to anyone interested in the field.
The most important thing is that you feel passionate about what you do and get involved with it. While driving home at the end of the day, I keep thinking about issues and possible solutions that could improve my project. So it is about that.