Really--are you a "professional" project manager? Workshop

Supported by:William Scarborough, Michelle Brown, and Maritza Cruzado


Professional behaviour or “professional conduct” is a mandatory component to any profession: The credibility and reputation of any profession are indeed shaped by the collective conduct of individual practitioners. Every Project Management Institute (PMI)® member and credential holder should be a role model for practicing project, program, or portfolio management in a professional way, thus advancing our profession, both individually and collectively. The EMAG (Ethics Member Advisory Group) has designed and prepared a forum focused on the “professional conduct” aspect of our profession.

The Ethics Member Advisory Group (EMAG) proposes a highly interactive workshop on this crucial aspect for the future of our profession. This document is meant to present the workshop and extend a warm welcome to all project management practitioners who conduct their activities in a professional way and who would like to see their profession taken seriously.

The workshop is interactive, facts and practices finding, and focuses on the “professional conduct” aspect of our profession and “how it relates to you” as a project management professional.

Participating in this Forum (Workshop) will be of great advantage and key learning to you, because

  • - it will allow you to benchmark your practitioner position toward “Professional Conduct,” as it relates to the Code.
  • - you will learn from each other from the workgroup and from the accumulated wisdom and data gathered by EMAG/PMI over a period of time.
  • - you will learn the ethics perspectives of some other organizations as mentioned in the abstract, complemented by some more perspectives and presented by the participants.
  • - you will see an example of a framework that you can use to guide your professional conduct decision-making.
  • - you will share the wisdom from different perspectives—cultural, domain, demographic, socio-political, geographic, and so forth.
  • - you will learn from the PK (Pecha Kucha) presentations, and, as a subset, how to use such presentations in your day-to-day work.


The credibility and reputation of any profession are shaped by the collective conduct of individual practitioners. Professional behaviour or “professional conduct” should be the trademark of every PMI® member and credential holder.

EMAG proposes a pragmatic description of what “professional conduct” is all about:

“Professional conduct is seen as a set of values, standards, or rules of behavior that guide the decisions, procedures, and operating modes of a practitioner in such a way that his/her activities contribute to generating value for its key stakeholders, and, at the same moment, respects the rights of all constituents affected by its activities.”

We would also like to volunteer some other views on the topic. For example:

From the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (2012):

“A code of professional conduct is a necessary component to any profession to maintain standards for the individuals within that profession to adhere to; it brings about accountability, responsibility, and trust to the individuals that the profession serves.”

The tenets are as follows:

  • “Interpreters adhere to standards of confidential communication.
  • Interpreters possess the professional skills and knowledge required for the specific interpreting situation.
  • Interpreters conduct themselves in a manner appropriate to the specific interpreting situation.
  • Interpreters demonstrate respect for consumers.
  • Interpreters demonstrate respect for colleagues, interns, and students of the profession.
  • Interpreters maintain ethical business practices.
  • Interpreters engage in professional development.” (2012)

From the State Bar of California (2011)

“Text of Proposed Rules 1.0, 7.1-7.5 as Submitted to the Supreme Court on July 20, 2011

Purpose: The purposes of the following Rules are:

  • (1) To protect the public;
  • (2) To protect the interests of clients;
  • (3) To protect the integrity of the legal system and to promote the administration of justice;


  • (4) To promote respect for, and confidence in, the legal profession.”

From the American Institute of CPAs(2011):

  • “.01 Membership in the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants is voluntary. By accepting membership, a certified public accountant assumes an obligation of self-discipline above and beyond the requirements of laws and regulations.
  • .02 These Principles of the Code of Professional Conduct of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants express the profession's recognition of its responsibilities to the public, to clients, and to colleagues. They guide members in the performance of their professional responsibilities and express the basic tenets of ethical and professional conduct. The Principles call for an unswerving commitment to honorable behavior, even at the sacrifice of personal advantage.”

From the Law Society of Upper Canada:

  • “RULE 1: Citation and Interpretation — Offers definitions for key terms used throughout the Revised Rules and guidelines for the interpretation of the Rules.
  • RULE 2: Relationship to Clients — Rules and commentaries on client-related issues such as lawyer competence, conflicts of interest and confidentiality.
  • RULE 3: The Practice of Law — Rules and commentaries on issues related to law practices themselves, such as firm names, advertising, interprovincial law firms.
  • RULE 4: Relationship to the Administration of Justice — Rules and commentaries relating to a lawyer's responsibilities to the courts, participants in the legal system and to the overall administration of justice.
  • RULE 5: Relationship to Students, Employees, and Others — Rules and commentaries governing a lawyer's conduct toward students, employees and others, including areas such as sexual harassment and discrimination.
  • RULE 6: Relationship to the Society and Other Lawyers — Rules and commentaries covering issues such as a lawyer's responsibilities toward the Law Society, involvement in multi-discipline practices and public office.”

From the Global Association of Investment Professionals (2010)


How do these definitions relate to our Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct and its mandatory and aspirational standards? And how does our Code relate to our daily lives, both personal and professional?

Following is a brief summary of our Code and its four tenets:

  • - Responsibility is our duty to take ownership for the decisions we make or fail to make, the actions we take or fail to take, and the consequences that result.
  • - Respect is our duty to show a high regard for ourselves, others, and the resources entrusted to us. Resources entrusted to us may include people, money, reputation, the safety of others, and natural or environmental resources.
  • - Fairness is our duty to make decisions and act impartially and objectively. Our conduct must be free from competing self-interest, prejudice, and favoritism.
  • - Honesty is our duty to understand the truth and act in a truthful manner, both in our communications and in our conduct.

Also, our Code states that, “Our hope that this Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct will serve as a catalyst for others to study, deliberate, and write about ethics and values. Further, we hope that this Code will ultimately be used to build upon and evolve our profession.”

To this end, this workshop will offer an opportunity to discuss and share the meaning of professional conduct in project management.

The true value of the workshop is in attending and actively participating in the discussions. We also hope that the attendees will be encouraged to use the same format within their organizations and local and professional communities. To this end, an outline of the workshop follows.

Workshop Outline

  • 1. Session opening on “Professional Conduct” and its relation to the four tenets of the Code and the new PMI Ethical Decision-Making Framework to be officially released shortly.
  • 2. Short introduction to the workshop and description of the process to be followed during the workshop.
  • 3. “Pecha Kucha” presentations on professional conduct (7 minutes). Each individual will present 8 slides, each slide containing a picture and a key idea (1 sentence) about professional conduct in relation to a value, a standard, a rule of behavior (e.g., professional conduct and respect). Volunteers willing to give a Pecha Kucha should contact the workshop leaders at the email addresses provided at the end of this paper.
  • 4. Idea generation session on professional conduct in relation to the four tenets and decision-making framework: respect, honesty, fairness, and responsibility (28 minutes). Participants will walk around the room, stop in front of a flip chart (containing a relationship; e.g., professional conduct and responsibility) and will share their views/feelings/concerns in relation to the presented relationship. Every 7 minutes, they will walk to the next flip chart and perform a similar activity, and so on.

An EMAG member and/or a volunteer will be available to assist within the working area of each flip chart and will record the ideas generated.

  • 5. Wrap up, feedback, and questions-and-answers session (15 minutes).


American Institute of CPAs (2011) ET section 51 - preamble Retrieved from

Global Association of Investment Professional(2010) Code of ethics and standards of professional conduct Retrieved from

Law Society of Upper Canada (2000) Rules of Professional Conduct. Retrieved from

Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (2012) Code of professional conduct. Retrieved from

State Bar of California (2012) Text of proposed rules 1.0, 7.1-7.5 as submitted to the supreme court on July 20, 2011. Retrieved from

© 2012, Ethics Member Advisory Group®
Originally published as a part of 2012 PMI Global Congress Proceedings –Marseille, France