Seven Places to Meet PMs and Earn PDUs in Vancouver

Published March 27, 2017 by Scott Hirsch

These may not be physical places in a geographic sense… but they are seven awesome groups that relate to project management in Vancouver, where you can network, gain PDUs, and get involved on a weekly basis - all of which can do wonders for your career in project management.

You may be wondering: what kind of strange individual would map all these different groups? I started working with the project management community a few years back, and it helped launch my career right out of university. As a result, I'm pretty passionate about the scene. I'm currently on the board of the local Project Management Institute chapter, and a co-founder of the PM-related startup TalentMarketplace, so a big part of my job is to meet with the various groups which make up our local project community.

First, some excel, because the analyst in me couldn’t help myself:

PM Groups Vancouver

Maybe – just maybe – you're already excited to check out all of these meetings next month. If that’s the case, check out this calendar which lists every PM event going on in the city, updated every month.

Over the coming months, I’ll be providing further analysis supported by interviews with the organizers of each group to see what makes them different, what they provide today, and what the future holds. If you're involved with one of these groups, or think I've missed one and have some input, please do reach out!

1. The Project Management Institute, Canadian West Coast Chapter

The Project Management Institute is, at an overall level, the organization which provided the de facto standard for project management, providing widely recognized certifications (like the PMP). More importantly, in my opinion, they provided the basis for the common language we use to identify and describe projects. Though we may differ on the methodology and mindset, words like “scope” and its meaning transcend methodologies and industries. While PMI Global facilitates memberships, certificates, lobbying, and so forth, it’s their local chapters provide a sense of community tailored for a specific region, driven entirely by volunteers.

The Canadian West Coast Chapter provides mentorship programs, apprenticeship programs, meetup events, dinner events & talks, project management courses, jobseekers events, orientations, a 2-day annual conference, and support to other groups in the project management community. They provide the greatest number of PDUs, and the greatest number of events (by number of events and by attendees) than any other group like it in the city.

We’ve really upped the ante in the last year: our growing suite of services and an increase in programming which supports those outside of the PMI community has contributed to the chapter’s biggest year of membership growth (an increase of almost 300 members in 2016) and strong retention rates. It’s a great time to join.

2. Agile Vancouver

The folks at Agile Vancouver has been around for quite a while, and as a result, they’ve got a strong following on Meetups and on LinkedIn, and are able bring in some really high-level speakers.

Last month, they brought in Scott Ambler, former Chief Methodologist for IT (neat title) and author, to talk about “hard” agile – basically, agile in large scale, conservative environments. Personally I found it enlightening, plus it provided me some extra closure on a former project I was on. +1 for that. Would go again.

3. Lean Agile YVR

I can’t speak too much to this one as I haven’t attended yet but if the numbers and reviews are any indicator, this is a quickly growing group of lean enthusiasts and agilists who get together for workshops, panels, and talks to further the discussion on how to make teams work better – a topic sorely needed in Vancouver’s industry landscape.

Important note: although valuable for project managers, their core focus is simply making all kinds of teams - and all members of a development team - work better. Being in a company that has used the lean startup methodology since the beginning makes me super excited to check their next event out.

4. Digital Project Managers Meetup

First off – what’s a digital project manager? The jump there has more detail, but if a PM could be defined as the person who “makes stuff happen”, usually for a reason, a DPM is someone who “makes stuff happen” in a digital setting. In the world of digital agencies, these individuals may go by the name of “producer” or “account manager”.

As you can probably wager, the culture here is very different from the standardized and structured environment of PMI land, and there’s a whole bunch of new and innovative ideas being floated around these meetup events (plus great venues, like Mobify’s new office!). There’s also great beer and a super active and valuable Slack channel.

More recently, the PMI chapter has found ways to support and engage with this group. Really looking forward to seeing/being a part of more of that as our chapter reaches out to the broader project community.

If you’re a project pro working in an agency, gaming, or digital space, I’d highly recommend swinging by one of these. Mark Fromson, Rachel Gertz, Travis Gertz, and the rest of the volunteers & sponsors to a great job of creating a fun, educational, and inviting space.

5. Society of Project Managers for Greater Vancouver

The Society was founded in about 2000, offering an alternative to PMPs to the local PMI Chapter. At first glance, their stated goals and mission is pretty similar to PMI’s scope. The big difference is that their membership consists of exclusively PMPs (though non-PMPs are welcome to attend events), and has no formal sponsorship ties or relationships to other organizations - something which is commonplace with the other groups.

The society is providing 5 seminars and workshops during 2017 at great prices. One of the most major benefits I hear from those involved with the Society is the value they provide. In true PM fashion, all are already listed on their website (and also on this calendar, along with all other PM events!). If you’re a PMP, this is one to check out if you’re looking for a classic PM-focused session.

6. International Institute for Business Analysts

Analyst work is a core part of the project management line of work, and the IIBA and it’s certifications (such as the CBAP) have been the standard for business analysts.

Whether you’re just looking to brush up on your BA skills or if that’s your zone in the project management community, these guys are the place to go. The people are awesome, and if you’d like a sneak peek, you can download a chunk of their presentations online!

7. Wideman Foundation

The Wideman Foundation was developed by Max Wideman – THE project management person for Vancouver and well beyond. His own site, Max’s, holds volumes of his musings and discussions with others in the profession. Like many others, his work has had a major impact on my career trajectory.

The Wideman Prize is their premier event, in which project pros assess the projects of a handful of hopeful students. Although it’s a small group, the impact it has on students can jump start a whole career.

Final thoughts

This research has taught me a couple things: First, there’s a lot of activity going on for the project management community, with well attended events happening multiple times a week. Second, too often, people silo themselves into only one of these groups. As a result, there are huge missed opportunities in meeting and collaborating with great people and learning new concepts. I’m hoping that this ever-evolving analysis will nudge people to branch out and try something new...if you see me at one of these events, please do say hello!