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Questions For PMI South Florida Chapter President Ricardo Triana

Posted on | May 1, 2009 | 1 Comment

Mr. Triana is a seasoned PMP® professional with more than 15 years of success in program and organizational quality management with a strong background in establishing strategic and tactical vision and developing strategies for program and quality management (OPM3, CMM, ISO) that drive in significant increases in revenue and customer satisfaction for various industries in several countries across North America, Latin America and Europe.

In his current position, Mr. Triana is responsible of global efforts for implementing a maturity model for the PMO and the standardization of governance processes in the IT projects for a financial services company. He is also an experienced instructor with multiple training sessions on Project Management, Software Factory Models, SDLC, CMM, interpersonal skills (communication, leadership and negotiation) and multicultural projects.

He is fluent in English and Spanish; has an intermediate level in French, Portuguese and a basic knowledge of Greek and Latin. He holds a Bachelor Degree in Arts with focus on Language and Pedagogy and a Master of Science in Information Technology and Systems Auditing. He is also a certified facilitator to improve communication and reduce conflict through SDI – Strengths Deployment Inventory.

Mr. Triana is a graduate of the PMI Leadership Master Class. He is currently the president of the South Florida Chapter and has acted in several volunteer positions at a local level, at global communities (Regional Ambassador for the IS-SIG, Mentor for the Consulting SIG), at standards projects (Content provider in PMBOK 4th Edition, Quality Control Leader in the OPM3 SE 2008) and has actively supported the PMI Global Congresses (Member of the COPAT North America 2008, SME and Presentations Reviewer).

Questions and answers:

1) Expiriance (E): What is the South Florida PMI Chapter (i.e.: when was it established, what is its purpose, what geographical area does it serve, what does it do)?
Ricardo Triana (RT): The Project Management Institute (PMI) is a Not-for-Profit Professional Association founded in 1969 by working project managers and currently is composed by 420,000 members and credential holders (with Project Management Professional -PMP®- as the most recognized of those credentials). In PMI, our primary goal is to advance the practice, science and profession of project management throughout the world in a conscientious and proactive manner so that organizations everywhere will embrace, value and utilize project management and then attribute their successes to it.

The South Florida Chapter is just one of 270 chapters around the world that help spread awareness about the Project Management profession by reaching out to local governments and organizations, hosting events and seminars for local practitioners, and providing opportunities for networking and obtain Professional Development Units (PDUs) required to maintain PMI credentials.

We were founded in 1986. We cover almost 5,600 square miles in three different counties: Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade. One of the things I always highlight is that we are strategically located in one of the most multicultural points in the planet and also that we are home to several companies headquartered here (250 global, 150 US/Americas, 420 regional and other 400 local) that generate an impressive $203 billion in revenue (nearly the size of the GDP of large nations in South America).

2) E: Who are the Chapter members and how many are there? Is membership restricted to project managers only?
RT: Any member of the PMI could become a member of the Chapter for an additional low fee. Currently, as of mid March, we have 1,500 members. PMI (and Chapter) membership is not restricted to project managers only; any professional that is interested in the project management profession or that is looking for information about how to use project management as a tool to produce value to the business community is encouraged to become a member.

3) E: The Chapter’s mission statement posted on its website reads “Advance the acceptance and growth of project management by delivering value added programs to our stakeholders while adhering to PMI ethical standards”. Who are your stakeholders and what are the value-added programs / benefits offered?
RT: As defined by PMI, the stakeholder communities that are important are Practitioners (Members), Consumers (Organizations that receive the benefits of using practitioners), Suppliers, Volunteer Leaders and Society At large (the public and particularly the media).

Every one of the chapters around the world offers a core set of benefits that help us standardize quality in the services we offer to the members and creates a common lexicon among us. Extended services depend on the chapter size, geography and membership characteristics. In our case, our benefits include:

• An incredible online presence – A Chapter website ( that is packed with exclusive features for members such as discussion forums, an articles library, messages. We also offer access to groups in LinkedIn and Facebook. We’re in Twitter and we’re implementing our blog infrastructure

• An effective communication strategy with our members and potential members – An annual report/strategic plan delivered via postal mail and three electronic quarterly newsletters

• Periodic educational and informative sessions – Monthly dinner meetings in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, allowing members to earn PDUs, listen to relevant speakers and also to network with Chapter members, organizations and partners

• A broad educational offering – PMI certification courses, PM knowledge and soft skills seminars, and a mentoring program. Members receive discounts on all educational opportunities and programs offered by the Chapter

• Job Opportunity Program – A program that allows quick transmission of the job opportunities in the market to interested members, complimentary entrance to an annual Job Fair and an annual Career Day (a workshop to help our members during their career transition) organized by the Chapter along with key employers and recruiters

• An Annual Professional Development Day (PDD) – A one-day seminar that offers multiple knowledge-based tracks, network opportunities and PDU accrual at the best price per PDU in the market

• An excellent portfolio of programs for volunteers – Several programs/projects that offer the volunteers an opportunity to enhance/practice their leadership skills, acquire new knowledge, network with other colleagues in the area and earn PDUs at their own pace and availability

4) E: South Florida is going through tough times like the rest of the nation, people are losing their jobs and we are sure that some of those people are Chapter members. Is the Chapter helping them in any way?
RT: As a brilliant author wrote “life always waits for some crisis to occur before revealing itself at its most brilliant” so I can proudly say that we are really committed to help our colleagues during these tough times. Our first set of actions is intended to help our current members and in the medium term we plan to cover even more the extended community (practitioners, businesses and consultants).

• First, we put together what we called Career Day consisting of a series of workshops aiming to help the attendants by providing them with tips and best practices on how to improve their resumes (curriculum vitae) and interviewing skills and also with a discussion with major employers in Florida about what they are looking currently in their hiring selection processes

• We also offered deep discounts for our Certification Courses (PMP® and PgMP®) so our members can get their certification just before the exam changes later this year to be adjusted to the new standards; because improving your skills is one of those things that really help you stand out of the crowd

• Planning is undergoing for our annual Job Fair to be held during fall this year

• We’re working together with partners that are in the human resource and recruiting businesses to offer free of charge programs that can continuously help project managers to strength their skills

• And finally at a global level, PMI has created a special offer during this year where members in good standing for the last three years that can prove they have lost their jobs can get their membership fees waived and that’s a very tangible way to give back to them

5) E: Project management has seemed to undergo adoption delays in non-IT industries, what is your perspective as to why?
RT: Let’s say that the statement is not completely true. The concepts of “management by projects” or “project based management” have spread in every industry since a long time ago. In construction it was already in the 50’s and in other industries -such as financial, telecommunications and IT- occurred during the 80-90’s.

All the industries where a project is developed (almost every one, isn’t it?) use a set of management practices based on knowledge areas in a management lifecycle but we use different names for the same concepts. IT was perhaps one of the leading industries where, due to the pressure of delivering value in project execution, easily adopted a set of project management standards because by adopting those practices it would make their project processes repeatable and then measurable in their path to value realization.

When in the 1990s PMI had an expansion by opening chapters all around the world, many in the IT industry that worked for larger multi-national organizations which already recognized PMI’s PMP® certification were involved in their creation, so that’s the reason we have an important participation of IT professionals in our organization. However, that’s not a good metric for explaining the state of project management as every industry has organized their own associations and standards around the same management practices (IPMA, CSI, IIBA, PRINCE2 among others) but we just use a different approach and/or name for the same knowledge.

If we want to ensure the expansion of project management practices in other industries, I really think we need to work in conjunction with all those other associations to show our common stakeholders (every business, practitioner, consultant and future professional) how they will be able to deliver value through the use of project management standards, tools and techniques. And that’s very true during these though times.

6) E: What changes can we expect in project management in the coming years?
RT: We have a very interesting challenge as a result of the economic crisis and I guess that this fact will model the future of the project management profession forever. At this particular moment, every company or government around the world is focused on executing only those projects that are meant to increase their revenues, to create a unique product in their marketplace or to give them a competitive advantage. That said, we need to live up to the challenge and take advantage of the fact that project management is a competency that is critical for them, this is the right moment to ensure that those standards are in place, that we can take the theory contained in the processes and tailor them to create a tangible reality in terms of business results. The time is now, the opportunity is there, and we just need to overcome any mental block and act!

7) E: How does the governance work within the Chapter? How are decisions made?
RT: We have a governance framework that is currently being improved. This framework consists of 4 major elements:

• A multi-year business plan that defines our goals, objectives and portfolio

• A set of processes, policies and procedures

• A volunteer organizational structure (VPs, Executive Team, Directors and Committees) that executes the portfolio following those processes

• A set of metrics to measure our performance and improve the predictability of our results

Decisions are made in 3 different layers within this governance framework:

• Decisions that may affect the future of the Chapter at a strategic level are made by the President in conjunction with the Executive Team and the VPs

• Decisions that initiate actions to correct or solve an immediate problem are made by the VP responsible for the area (or in some cases by the President)

• Finally those purely tactical or operational are made by the team of directors or the committee in charge of that particular program/project

8) E: For how long is the president elected?
RT: We hold elections every year. First, you will be elected to become president-elect for a year, then you will be the president and the last year you will act as past president. So, in summary, once you have decided to participate as a president you should be planning to be around for 3 years. That allows us enough time to do both a smooth transition and a good planning on how to execute long term plans.

9) E: Is there anything completely new in the future of the Chapter that has not been done before?
RT: I think there are several aspects where we are innovating, enhancing our previous success or tapping into new resources. Reaching out to companies, working closely with them via a Center of Excellence is a clever idea but we are just enhancing a program previously known as the Corporate Council. However, the focus on engaging members and volunteers is really something that we haven’t tried before:

• We are offering complimentary entrances/discounts to our events to those members that have never attended or to members that have not renewed their membership

• We are working closely with our volunteer team to ensure their expectations are being fulfilled

• We are working on the leadership skills of our volunteer team through a pilot of a future Leadership Master Class starting with our executive team

10) E: Since the work at the Chapter is voluntary and mostly carried off-hours, and you must have a full-time job, do you have time for yourself and your family?
RT: I try very hard to maintain a good balance between my family and my other endeavors. I have a beautiful wife, four wonderful children, a full-time job, I teach once in a while, I’m getting certified as a coach and leadership facilitator, I do some consulting and I enjoy having some spare time (playing videogames, reading a book, watching my TV shows) and then there’s PMI. So, I should say that’s very difficult, I’m lucky that my wife, children and friends know my passion for my profession and for helping my colleagues and also support my actions and decisions; having them around always makes my life easier.

11) E: It is also difficult to motivate volunteers to stay serving for a long period of time. How do they stay motivated while in the Chapter?
RT: As mentioned before, we’re working closely with the volunteers’ team on ensuring that their experience in the Chapter would be really a pleasant one and that they will obtain what they were looking for (PDUs, networking, enhanced skills, exercise new skills in a safe environment, etc.). I just would use a phrase I really like to describe our experience in here “your team won’t care about how much you know, until they know how much you care” so we are showing them how much we do care and we expect them to continue engaged in this endeavor.

12) E: Tell me one thing about the Chapter that you think most people and/or members don’t know.
RT: That beyond all the work and programs we’re just a bunch of friends and colleagues and we stand by each other’s side helping during tough times, enjoying the good times and having a lot of fun by doing what we love to do (and that is project management).

13) E: If there was an emergency and you had to be away from the Chapter for 30, 60 or more days, what would happen? Do you have strong leaders who could guide the Chapter in your absence?
RT: We are used to work in a virtual way, I work with my teams using every tool at our disposal (emails, conference calls, web conference, chat, online groups, website) so it really doesn’t matter where we are physically because we can deliver under those conditions. And I’m very confident in every one of the VPs and each member of the Executive Team (president-elect and past president). The natural way of dealing with an extreme situation would be that the president-elect would take my role while things get stabilized and the VP of Operations would assume the temporary role of president-elect.

14) E: If we asked your staff to rank your leadership on a scale of 1 to 10, what result would you get? Is this the result you want?
RT: That’s a very tricky question because it would mean I am ranking myself using others as an excuse. I really don’t know their answer but I’m sure of one thing, if you ask them they will be able to talk about how much I do care about this organization and our profession and how much they are committed to this cause because of that invisible energy that I share with them.

15) E: If there is one thing, and only one thing, that you want to accomplish during your period as President, what would that be?
RT: That would be increasing the awareness in our business community that by using project management they can obtain tangible business results and improve their competitiveness and make PMI and the Chapter their preferred choice for finding almost everything around the subject (knowledge, information, practitioners and services).

16) E: What would you want your legacy in the Chapter to be?
RT: Legacy would be a very pompous word. I come from a rich Latin heritage culture; I’ve worked and lived in several countries and I have had the opportunity to share with people from all over the world. Those three variables (culture, work experience and networking) have provided me with both theory and practice about leadership issues and techniques. I am very honest when I say to my colleagues that we’re different and that we should celebrate those differences, because understanding where our background and experience comes from and what our motivations are can enrich us to build even better results.

If we get to the point where the ego of the team (the whole Chapter) is more important than the ego of each one of their individuals (members or volunteers), we will know that we have a cohesive team; for me that’s one of the goals of working with diversity. That would be an enormous satisfaction for me.

Our most sincere appreciation to Ricardo Triana, President, PMI South Florida Chapter for his time on this interview. Don’t you think so…? Well, I do.

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One Response to “Questions For PMI South Florida Chapter President Ricardo Triana”

  1. Clara
    January 26th, 2012 @ 11:16 am

    What an awesome way to explain this-now I know everything!

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