History of PMI

Explore the growth of PMI alongside significant project history

After months of conversations between Jim Snyder and Gordon Davis, a 1969 dinner in Philadelphia resulted in the decision that a new organization should be formed to provide a means for project managers to associate, share information and discuss common problems. This lead to the first formal meeting at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, on 9 October 1969. From this meeting came the birth of the Project Management Institute. Shortly thereafter, articles of incorporation were filed in Pennsylvania, signed by five persons, who are officially recognized as the founders of PMI - James Snyder, Eric Jenett, Gordon Davis, E.A. "Ned" Engman and Susan C. Gallagher.

1969-1979: One Giant Leap for Project Management

Apollo takes off, so does PMI

It may be that the most lasting legacy of Apollo was human: an improved understanding of how to plan, coordinate and monitor the myriad technical activities that were the building blocks of Apollo.

New Orleans skyline

While Apollo was making project history, PMI was starting to build the foundations of project management. The first PMI leaders volunteered their time because they believed in the need to share project planning and scheduling practices. In fact, the organization was almost named The American Planning and Scheduling Society. But the founders realized it was bigger than that—it was about project management. PMI was founded and held its first Seminars & Symposium, “Advanced Project Management Concepts,” in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. The First PMI Chapter is started in Houston, TX. PMI quickly became global, holding another Seminars & Symposium in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. PMI also hired its first part-time employee, and leased office space.


1979-1989: A Time for Change

Motorola invents the world’s first mobile phone, PMI calls on awards and certifications

It weighed 2.5 pounds (1.1 kilograms). It was 10 inches (25 centimeters) long. And it only lasted 20 minutes before the battery died. But Martin Cooper and his team at Motorola had done it: invented the world’s first working prototype of a mobile phone.

Black and white image of a man at an airport talking on an old block phone

PMI continued building its strong volunteer core, chartering 24 new chapters in the United States and establishing its first non-North American footholds in West Germany and South Africa.

PMI hired Bradley Stanton as its first paid executive director. PMI introduced the Fellow Award, its most prestigious individual award. The infamous PMP® Certification debuts, and PMI co-founder Eric Jenett was the first to be certified. By the end of 1989, PMI had 6,199 members, and had given 264 PMP certifications.

1989-1999: All The Right Moves

Delta Air Lines Terminal 5 takes flight, so does PMI’s awards programs

The expansion of Delta Air Lines’ Terminal 5 at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California, USA earns PMI’s first ever Project of the Year award. Despite the US$75 million overhaul, the team made sure it was business as usual, delivering the makeover in just 18 months.

Overhead image of planes at an airport

PMI purchased a 6,000-squarefoot (557-square-meter) building in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, USA to serve as its global headquarters. PMI held its first Global Project Management Forum in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, with attendees from 23 countries. PMI released the first edition of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). The PMI Today newsletter launched, and by 1999, PMI.org attracted nearly 1 million visits.


1999-2009: In the DNA

The double helix is discovered, while PMI doubles down on its global outreach

Once Rosalind Franklin, PhD, James Watson, PhD, and Francis Crick, PhD, discovered the signature double helix structure in the 1950s, nothing was quite the same.

Image of a scientific petri dish

While the double helix was discovered, PMI’s DNA was proving to be made up of rapidly growing international project excellence. Carla Krieger Langsch, from Porto Alegre, Brazil, received the 50,000th Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification at PMI’s 2002 Seminars & Symposium. PMI held its first Global Project Management Forum in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, with attendees from 23 countries. PMI held seminars and conferences in London, Paris, Singapore, and Panama City. PMI also touched base in Brussels. PMI’s global DNA continued to distinguish itself through translating the PMBOK® Guide to Chinese, and formally approving the establishment of the Global Accreditation Center for Project Management.

A group of people at a PMI exhibition


2009-2019: Reaching New Heights

Impressive project management takes building industry to new heights, PMI also reaches for the sky

In 2004, the Burj Dubai (as it was originally named) emerged as that signature stake in the sand. Sponsored by Dubai’s government, it eventually became the tallest building in the world, towering 828 meters (2,717 feet) into the sky.

Image of the Burj Dubai, one of the tallest buildings in the world

While the Burj Dubai showcased incredible strides for the project management industry, PMI continued to further develop their global standard, opening offices in Australia, Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Singapore and China, and launching its Global Executive Council. By 2016, PMI had awarded nearly 150,000 PMP® certifications in China. PMI introduced the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® certification, PMBOK Guide® − Fifth & Sixth Edition, PM Network app, and Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)® and the Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)® certifications. PMI’s impact was appearing in large waves; With support from PMI, the United States passed the Program Management Improvement Accountability Act. By 2016, PMI awarded nearly 150,000 PMP® certifications in China. In 2019, PMI named Sunil Prashara its new president and CEO.

2019-Present: Future Forward

A pandemic demonstrates the importance of new technology, PMI realizes the future is the place to be

Updated PMI logo

Operation Warp Speed was a public–private partnership initiated by the United States government to facilitate and accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.

While unexpected obstacles and unprecedented times became the new norm, PMI launched a global brand awareness campaign called Make Reality.

PMI also launches various programs including Wicked Problem Solving, Citizen Developer, and more.

Futuristic image of a woman standing in a stark environment