The History of the PMI Frankfurt Chapter 1988-2005



By Thomas Walenta, PgMP, PMP, PMI Fellow



Based on files and memories of Thomas Walenta, PMI Fellow

Incorporating input from Ralf Müller and Eckhard Genßmann

Spring 2015

25 years after its chartering and almost 10 years after I left the Chapter as a President, I want to help document the history of the Frankfurt Chapter. As it happens, this is also partly the history of PMI in Europe and Germany. As any organization grows beyond the active lifetimes of their members, the management in charge might want to learn about the past (if not even from the past).

I tried to remember as many individuals with significant contributions as I could. They could be asked about details if needed. I certainly forgot somebody. If so, please take my apologies for leaving you out.

Also, I report about my personal experiences, which are many. Nevertheless you may view the period or specific events and results from different angles. So if you like, you can add to my memories or even dispute some of them.

Saying so, this article is free for discussion and amendment.

The foundation years 1988-1998

In 1988, a group of US Army Engineers under sponsorship from Robert Steven Lide requested from PMI to found a Chapter in Frankfurt, Germany. Unluckily for this group, PMI and the predecessor of IPMA (which then ran under the name of ‘INTERNET’), had an agreement that PMI will not establish a Chapter in the primary area in which they serve the PM profession, which included Germany and Europe.

Since the group consisted of US military personnel located on an US base, PMI HQ argued that the Frankfurt Chapter could be seen as a ‘US Chapter based in Europe’. PMI Executive Director Bonnie McGarr informed the members of the Chapter in October 1989, that PMI and INTERNET adapted their agreement. The Frankfurt Chapter was then chartered as of 1988.

The core group consisted besides Robert Steven Lide of Jim Thomasson (Interim President), Mike Fallon (Interim Secretary), Cynthia Nielsen (Membership Drive), Robert Wade (Interim Officers Project), Harry Kohler (By-Laws and Constitution) and Tahir Rizvi (Interim Treasurer).

The Chapter became dormant after a few years and activities to restart it commenced in 1992 by a group of NCR managers. The story behind that is that the by then Director of NCR’s European Technology Center, John A. Kennel, was pushing forward to establish project management as a key competence within NCR in Europe. For that he established an education program with George Washington University, with the goal of getting NCR’s project managers PMP certified. Three managers of NCR took this idea forward in the German organization, Erich Hantzsch, Jens Grappendorf and Ralf Müller. The Chapter was officially (re-)opened in March 1994. While essentially a group effort, one of them volunteered to be the first one to sit for the PMP exam and became the first President of the new PMI Frankfurt Chapter. The first few meetings attracted only a small number of professionals from the Frankfurt area. Efforts to attract new members were mainly along personal contacts of these managers. In early 1994 the Chapter had only a few members. Two articles in the German IT publication Computerwoche more than doubled the number of members.


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About the Author


Thomas Walenta, PgMP, PMP

PMI Fellow

Frankfurt, Germany




Thomas Walenta, PgMP, PMP, PMI Fellow, was working as Project and Program Manager for IBM from 1983-2014. Most recently he was responsible for a program encompassing all business of IBM with a global client in the EMEA region, with teams in India, Japan and across Europe. He led the PMI Frankfurt Chapter from 1998 to 2005, increasing membership from 111 to 750 and annual budget to 100K Euro.

Thomas had a variety of volunteer positions for PMI, among them being final juror of the PMI Project of the Year award, member of the PMI Board nomination committee, auditor for PMI‘s Registered Education Provider Program, writer/reviewer of PMP Exam questions and significant contributor to PMI‘s first standards about Program Management and Portfolio Management.

In 2005, he was elected by PMI membership to serve a 3 year term on the PMI Board from 2006 to 2008. Being a speaker on global project management events in Tokyo, Moscow, São Paulo and across Europe, Thomas extended his professional network significantly and is regarded as an experienced and skillful advisor and mentor.

Thomas is serving as a member of PMI’s Ethics Review Committee since 2011. He can be contacted via email at [email protected].

To view other works by Thomas Walenta, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/thomas-walenta-pmp/