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Topics: Leadership, New Practitioners, Stakeholder Management
The 'Age' Question
Anonymous
Hi all,

Quick question for those who have been in the PM game for some time as well as for newcomers:

Do you find that there is a minimum age threshold that a PM should appear to have crossed before they are taken seriously?

As a newly-minted PMP and PMI-ACP holder at 28 years old, I'm wondering if there is a 'too-young-to-be-taken-seriously' problem that exists in the project management field?

Age discrimination certainly does exist in the technology field, usually against older IT professionals, but I'm wondering if the opposite is true for the PM field.

Specifically, is a young PM is not as desirable as an older one due to the stigma that only seasoned PMs are capable of wielding projects and their varying complexity?

As such, how might a young PM overcome this problem? By simply having a project portfolio blog site and strong LinkedIn profile with good answers to interview questions? Or is there more to it than that?

Thank you in advance for your answers!
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I do not think the age is a real problem, you could be a very good project manager at early age as long as you have the right education, coach and mentor. In addition to the support of the top management to you.
The challenge you could face if you change the environment / culture that you are working in.
No, I would not say age is a factor, though, as a new member of a team or organization there is a period of 'adjustment' that generally needs to occur. How the individual performs, thinks, acts, communicates, etc. is what is important and will lead to how the individual is perceived. That said, there is obviously less experience 'out there in the wild' with someone that is younger, but that is where those soft-skills shine and the ability to build relationships and trust.
You are from the type who is working hard on themselves, PMP and PMI-ACP ,,, keep going and do not worry about barking dogs, they are mostly trying to put you down because they failed to formalise their (experience).
Experience moreso than age is a factor. A 30 year old person with 10 years PM experience is going to do better or have more opportunities than a 40 year old with 5 years PM experience.
I respectfully differ with some of the above comments. Age does matter because it ties in directly with experience and agree with @Sante Vergini. A young PM coming on board will have to prove harder and consistently before s/he is taken seriously.

A slightly different angle is the looks. If you look younger than your age, be prepared to go through the same ordeal; having gone through this experience; I was even advised to group a French beard to give a matured look. Of course that did not happen as the work speaks for itself.


With PMP and ACP under your belt, keep delivering and people will learn to bite their tongue.
Someone can have two years of highly varied experience that makes them a great PM and someone else might have twenty years of doing exactly the same thing which might not make them as valuable.

Unfortunately, ageism of either the young or the old, is just one of the biases we have to deal with - it is seen in all industries and across many countries.

As with all such biases, if the people who possess them are willing to give you a chance to prove yourself, you can help them to overcome those biases. The challenge is if you are never invited to the dance...

Kiron
Anonymous
I have to agree with @Faisal Patel, "A young PM coming on board will have to prove harder and consistently before s/he is taken seriously." I too have faced this where looking youthful is interpreted as a sign of inability to deliver. Sometimes I feel I might have to look into sporting a beard, glasses and some gray hair dye.

As @Kiron Bondale writes the challenge might be that "someone never gets invited to the dance" to prove themselves, but then again, are not the PMP and other certifications like it the main vehicles by which we prove ourselves?

Or is more necessary, such as an online project portfolio, blog site, etc. in an attempt to build relationships and trust as @Andrew Craig mentioned above?
In most cultures around the world age is positively correlated with knowledge and ability (I'm not saying the correlation is correct, just that it exists). Look at things from the perspective of a business owner. The owner needs to select a PM to manage a $10 million dollar project. If the project is managed poorly, it will destroy her business. The owner has two PMs with equally impressive resumes from which to choose. Most people in her situation would likely go with the older candidate, figuring he has worked and lived longer, and so has more experience and a greater chance of executing the project well.
Consider: Would you rather entrust an important surgery you're having to an 18-year old prodigy who graduated medical school? Or an doctor with the same qualifications who was 20 years older?
I know someone very young that has become a PM after completing a master's degree in project management. No prior working experience in anything. That's the company policy. They even have internship in project management. Are you a freshly graduate with no work experience in anything? Good. If you had good academic results you can be accepted as a project management intern and after this voila you're a PM.

I also know senior technical experts working for that company that complain about PMs. They say that they have to do a lot of project management and that's not because the PMs have no experience (which is also true) but because the company decided that this is their job. These technical experts have to make the project plans on themselves and monitor the progress. The PMs manage the project "financially" (whatever this means).

So I guess you can become a PM at a very young age but you should not be amazed if you are not going to truly manage the project. Anyway this depends on the company,

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