PMI-Montréal project management blog

Aliki on the Road : Project Management Chapters and Communities in Peru: The password is “PMI”

Author : Aliki Courmanopoulos

It's 9:30AM and we are on the tarmac, VivaAir Peru flight from Lima to Piura and I am excited to be going the first PMI chapter conference event of my trip. I understand little that is said over the loudspeaker as the captain's voice comes on, but I do understand the international signs of frustration as 120 people groan and a few expletives are heard. For reasons I never fully got, our flight returns to the gate and we exit the plane. I look up to see the new flight time: 3PM.  

My first thought was, I need wifi to message my PMI contact in Piura who is meeting me at the airport. My second thought was, what will I do with 5 hours of free time in a tiny airport?



PMI to the Rescue!

Within seconds my Whatsapp is on fire. I have been added to the PMI Peru speakers group and they are coordinating my location. There are two speakers in the Lima airport lounge at the very same moment. Minutes later I am sitting with Valeria from PMI Asuncion, Paraguay and Andrea from PMI Rosario, Argentina, enjoying a glass of wine (it’s 5pm somewhere). They have never met me before, but we share a fundamental value. “PMI” is all they need to know to start sharing their passion for project management with me. This incredible access via PMI is the theme of my next 10 days of travel in Peru.


From left to right : Valeria Rodriguez Zuccaro, PMI Asuncion Paraguay, Aliki Courmanopoulos, PMI-Montreal and Andrea Bresciani, PMI Rosario Argentina. 


PMI Peru - Tour Cono Sur 2017

When Miguel Cotrina, President of PMI Cajamarca Peru Chapter invited me to participate in the Piura conference day,  I expected what I have come to expect from PMI events; a series of conferences on project management with some networking at the end. But they do things differently in Peru. Discussing the upcoming event with Valeria and Andrea in the Lima airport lounge, I learned that they were not yet headed to Piura like me, but starting their speaking engagements in Trujillo. They were each giving 3 different presentations, in 3 different cities, in 5 days.


One country, three chapters, many communities. While Lima is both the financial and business centre of the country, project managers are located up and down the coast in all the major cities. As a result, there are three main chapters : Lima, South Peru and Cajamarca in the north. Cajamarca has grown across multiple cities, with 122 members in Cajamarca, Trujillo and Piura, and over 50 volunteers in each.


So how do you provide services and events to all your members? You go on tour.

The Tour Cono Sur is a series of conferences in the PMI Region 13 South, and was started in Asuncion, Paraguay. The tour is a way for many of the chapters in South America to collaborate their content and share their experiences.



Peru chapters have coordinated their event calendar so that the availability of the speakers can be offered to as many members as possible. The Tour Cono Sur 2017 in Perustarts in Trujillo, continues two days later in Piura, an overnight bus to Cajamarca for day 3, then 2 days of conferences in Lima with over 700 participants. Speakers are PMI members from all over Central and South America.  I rode the overnight bus with speakers from PMI Costa Rica, Mexico, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile and Peru. Like PMI Rock Stars.


One Continent, One Community

There is an understanding that comes with being an active member of PMI, that all members are working together to make the world a better place through project management best practices.  Never has this been more true that with the Tour Cono Sur. The camaraderie went beyond professional friendships, as speakers chose to spend the little down time they had between conferences road tripping together to local beaches and constantly messaging each other through the Whatsapp group. I have been welcomed with open arms.  My friend Miguel had not yet even arrived in Piura, but I had been picked up, fed, housed, offered Pisco sours, and integrated into the group despite my basic Spanish.  New friendships were formed and I had to message the PMI-Montreal team to let them know of a potential South American party that may show up for the Symposium in April.

 From left to right : Aliki Courmanopoulos, Victor Cano, PMI Mexico, and Alfonso Barraza, PMI Santiago Chile.


Preparations and conference day

The evening before the Piura conference, the speakers stopped by a private home where volunteers and students were preparing the participant kits for the next day. A living room was transformed into a factory of stickers and badges. Speakers took this opportunity to talk with the students about why project management is important and how the future of the profession will change the landscape of Peru and South America. Smiling faces all round, the energy and laughter was contagious and it was clear that something special is happening with PMI in Peru.


From left to right : Andrea Bresciani, PMI Rosario Argentina, Cesar Barriga, PMI South Peru, Diego Meneses, PMI Costa Rica, Valeria Rodriguez Zuccaro, PMI Asunción Paraguay.


Each conference day had 2 tracks, with keynotes in between. Topics ranged from Stakeholder Management: Mission Impossible?, Sustainable Project Management and the Future, Agile Maturity, and much more. Conferences were accessible for students while still being interesting for professionals. Speakers were passionate and dynamic and the energy from one day carried over to the next.



Student Association Partnerships in Peru

The amount of student participants was surprising as attracting the next generation to the project management profession and to PMI is a challenge, one that Peru seems to have found the solution to.

Sedipros (Seccion Estudiantil de Direccion de Proyectos) are university based associations for students in project management related disciplines learning to apply best practices in their various fields. There are 26 Sedipros in Peru, 19 of which have formalized agreements with the chapters, with over 600 active student volunteers, 130 of whom are members of PMI. By forming a partnership with Sedipros, PMI chapters in Peru have access to volunteers and potential future members. They activate this partnership by giving presentations about PMI and project management at the universities and providing volunteer opportunities for students at conference events. At both the Piura and Cajamarca conference days that I attended, the organisation and presentation of the day was conducted by the Sedipro student volunteers.  By having students responsible for the organisation of the conference day, the Peru chapters create an attachment between the success of the event and the students implication with the chapter. At the end of the day, there was a sense of pride and excitement about project management that was directly related to the success of the day. No denying it, the room was full of soon-to-be PMI members.




The final presentation in Cajamarca was keynote presenter Thiago Ayres’ address “Economics 4.0: Change is the Only Certainty, Are you Ready?”, an inspiring presentation about the exponential potential of project management careers in the future. The energy in the room was positive, enthusiastic and most of all familial. In South America, family is number one, but PMI seems to be a close second as speakers posed for dozens of selfies like the rock stars that they are. Being a member of PMI is the password that gives access to a wealth of new friendships and contacts in South America.

The event came to a close with the exciting news that the communities of Piura and Trujillo, under the PMI Cajamarca Chapter umbrella, will now be included under the new chapter name: PMI North Peru. With the energy and passion these communities bring, Peru chapters epitomizes the PMI spirit and will continue to grow and bring together members from across South America.

As my project management vocabulary in Spanish continues to expand, PMI provides an unspoken language itself, connecting communities, Peru to the rest of South America, and this Montrealer to the world.


From left to right : Ernesto Calvo, PMI Lima Peru, Cesar Barriga, PMI South Peru, Aliki Courmanopoulos, PMI-Montreal, Alfonso Barraza, PMI Santiago Chile, Gaston Espinoza Salvador, PMI communidad Piura, Valeria Rodriguez Zuccaro, PMI Asunción Paraguay


A very special thank you to Miguel Cotrina, President of PMI Cajamarca Peru Chapter, soon to be PMI North Peru, for extending the invitation to me to join the PMI Tour Cono Sur and for this exceptional experience in Peru.



About Aliki en route

Around the globe, everyday, project managers are making the world a better place by bringing complex projects to life. These individuals use their skills to promote change and improve the lives of countless people. I am backpacking around the world, exploring projects and people, whose passion for these methodologies is creating change through innovation. If you've ever wondered what Project Management is really about, or considered how your skills as a project manager could be used to make a difference, follow me on my trip around the world.