Interview with Cornelius Fichtner

Todays interview is with none other than Cornelius Fichtner, PMP who has been working as a Project Manager in his native Switzerland, in Germany and in the USA for the last 18 years and received his PMP credential in April 2004. Currently, Cornelius helps project managers to stay on top of the industry with his free Project Management Podcast and helps them pass the PMP Exam with The PM PrepCast. His passions obviously are project management methodologies and PMOs.


You are known for your podcast. How did this all start and how did you come up with the idea?
It's all my wife's fault  because in 2004 she gave me an iPod for my birthday. At first, I was just listening to music and some books. Then the first podcasts arrived and I realized that there wasn't one for project managers. At first, I dismissed the idea to create one several times until I finally decided to start The Project Management Podcast at www.pm-podcast.com late in 2005. The mission of this podcast has been "Bringing project management to beginners and experts" ever since.


I have to mention that I am a big fan of your prepcast and love it and am going to use it for my PMP preparation- what suggestions do you have for people getting ready for CAPM and PMP?
The first step in becoming a CAPM or PMP has to be the mandatory reading of the CAPM Handbook or the PMP Handbook, readily available from PMI. Once you understand the certification process, then it's time to read the PMBOK Guide 3 times, read a PMP Prep Book in parallel and take a prep class as well. In regards to classes I always recommend that people first contact their local PMI chapter because chapters often offer good quality prep classes. 


For those who don't have the time to go to an in-person class, there is always my own PM PrepCast which allows you to earn your 35 required contact hours on your iPod or other portable player. 


After about 3 weeks of study, it is also time to start testing your self on sample questions. Begin using the free ones available on the web and then you must subscribe to a paid online service, where you can take simulated PMP exams.


Any memorable experience while doing your podcast?
In episode #50 I interviewed Max Wideman (www.maxwideman.com), who is one of the most well respected project managers in the USA. I was amazed by his friendliness, graciousness and depth of understanding of project management as a discipline. There is a reason why he has been so successful in his career. And then, in episode 100 I was star struck because I had a chance to interview musician Alan Parsons from the Alan Parsons Project. He has always been a favorite musician of mine (my iPod is full of his music), so having him on the program was fun.


Did you always plan to become a project manager?
Does anyone?


Three qualities every project manager should have?

  • Flexibility, because when you arrive at your office tomorrow morning, I can almost guarantee that much of what you had planned to do may not turn out exactly as you had expected.
  • Empathy, because you are going to have to deal with dozens of people every day and in order to be successful you must be able to think how they do, understand what makes them tick and communicate in a way that makes sense to them.
  • A sense of humor, because you are spending at least 8 hours at work every day and if your work isn't fun or you cannot make it fun, then why are you doing it?

Last three books you read.
I very rarely read books any more. I listen to them on my iPod

  • Dr. Nathaniel Branden - The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem
  • Robert A. Heinlein - Stranger in a strange land (this would be my 4th time hearing it)

What inspires you everyday to do what you do (working full time and yet make the time for podcasts and new applications for PMP exams)?
2 years ago, I made project management training my full time job. This means, that I have moved over to "The Dark Side" and I am now a project sponsor, who has a lot of PMs reporting to him, so that we can deliver all the great products that we do. But frankly, the thing that keeps me going are people writing me a short email saying that they have passed their exam and how much my training materials have helped them.


Cornelius is the 2007 Chair of the Project Management Institute Orange County Chapter. He currently lives in Silverado, California, USA with his wife and their four computers. 

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