Programme in Project Management 100th intake

The 100th intake of the most popular project management training in SA - the Programme in Project Management (PPM) was successfully completed and the delegates graduated on 15 March 2012.

The Birth of the Project Management Programme at CE at UP

Way back in the 1970s Project Management was taught in the Department of Civil Engineering. The Chair in Engineering Management at TUKS, created in 1987, became a fully fledged Department of Engineering and Technology Management by 1994. So, it all started here at the Faculty of Engineering; Built Environment and Information Technology (EBIT) in the 1990s, when the Laboratory for Advanced Engineering saw the need to offer short courses aimed at developing the project management skills of practitioners. Unbeknown to them, several other faculties were also interacting with industry about continuing education across a variety of disciplines, yet no-one really knew of one another.

At EBIT, the early short courses carried no certification, but as industry demonstrated a growing demand for formal assessment and acknowledgment of their delegates’ progress, a process of certification was put in place. One of the first certified programmes was offered by Professor Antonie de Klerk, later to play a major role in the establishment of Continuing Education at University of Pretoria (CE at UP). He introduced a Programme in Engineering Management (PEM) about a year before the now famous Programme in Project Management (PPM) was first introduced.

A series of discussions followed, which resulted in the appointment of Professor Herman Steyn. Prior to Herman’s appointment Professor De Klerk had already broached the idea of meeting the demand for certified short courses in their discussions. By 1997, the first fully certified Programme in Project Management (PPM) was offered by Professor Steyn, who had by then joined the University from industry, and offered the courses from within the faculty. The first course attracted only 12 delegates, of which one never paid and only 5 showed up for the certificate ceremony! In the photos of that first ever certificate ceremony were also Professor de Wet, who was instrumental in the establishment of the Graduate School of Technology Management, and the late Professor Lombaard who was initially responsible for Quality Management modules.

By now, some of the visionary leadership at TUKS, including people such as Dr Johan Van Zyl, today head of Sanlam, Professor Calie Pistorius, and Prof Antonie de Klerk were putting their heads together on the blueprint for a new entity,
CE at UP, that would bring all the continued and professional training across different faculties on campus under one, focused and professionally managed umbrella.

By 2000, this entity emerged, and the PPM moved over to its new institutional home with Professor
Herman Steyn as course leader. Little did they know what a runaway success this would become…


Changes Through the Years

The PPM course started off as a 20 day course, offered across 4 blocks of 5 days each.  At the early stages, there were still some 2 and 3 day modules on offer, but these were later replaced with modules that were all 2.5 days long. Since inception, courses were always true to the guidelines professed by the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge), under the control of the Project Management Institute (PMI) in the USA, and as regularly updated.

The first Project Risk Management module was taught by Professor Antonie de Klerk, flying in from Australia where he was on sabbatical. This module was available simultaneously as a stand-alone short course and as a module of the PPM. Early experimentation included hands-on training on MSProject, yet the divergent computing skills of delegates proved to be quite a stumbling block, despite the elegance of the software. Also, as Professor Steyn suggests today,  a skill such as this does not make one a successful project manager any more than  MSWord skills makes you an author. Over the years, the position has shifted to one of recommending separate schooling in programmes such as MSProject, Primavera or Sciforma 4 after completion of the PPM.  Also part of the initial experience was a module in Critical Chain Methods, now only offered at the Advanced Programme in Project Management (APPM) Level.

Parallel to these content initiatives, CE at UP itself was streamlining its operations under the leadership of Professor Antonie de Klerk. Course marketing and administration was being centralised under a growing team of full time CEatUP employees that would grow to about 85 people in only 10 years time. The entity was growing a life and a character of its own across its many offerings for many industries, and the value of some of the PPM content was also becoming apparent to generalist managers outside of the Built, Engineering and Technology environment. Most useful to the growth of the PPM was an international management movement talking about reshaping the complete corporate institutional environment to a series of projects clustered around a central project office.

By 2006, when the University of Pretoria MBA programme moved over to the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) in Johannesburg, the beautiful building where CE at UP is still situated formally became the home for all continuing and professional training at Tuks. But, as the demand for new courses grew, some programmes were now also being offered on clients’ site, and the move into the rest of Africa commenced.

As the body of knowledge, the number of practitioners, and the demand for higher learning in the field of project management grew and became ever more challenging, the Masters in Project Management (MPM) was launched in 1999. This was in no small part attributable to the success of the PPM. This resulted in an explosion of research contributing to the expansion of the corpus of knowledge within the field, with the natural evolvement of a PhD program in project management within a few years. For the more practice focused alumni of the PPM faced with new challenges, an Advanced Programme in Project Management (APPM) was introduced. 

For interested parties with too much on their plates during the week, the next innovation was a so-called “Weekender” programme where delegates could tend to their career development outside of the office hours.

The dynamic growth in demand for its services resulted in the GSTM becoming a full stand-alone School by 2007. The underlying philosophy has been to remain alert and responsive to the demands of industry and the needs and constraints experienced by delegates, while remaining firmly encased within the academic home of a University that required a continued contribution to knowledge in the field.  The ability to interact with different levels of project managers from a variety of industries also breathed continuous fresh air into the research work of permanent faculty members, and helped to keep these academic departments at the top of their field in that arena too. Today, the PPM course leaders draw on the expertise located within the Graduate School of Technology Management, the Department of Construction Economics, several other university departments and also that of external practitioners such as Prof Ad Sparrius.


Visionaries & Workers

A success story such as the growth of project management training at the University of Pretoria does not happen unless there are some visionaries who risk their reputation in realising a dream, backed-up by a team of hardworking colleagues who ensure that the pieces come together.

Professor Antonie de Klerk was hugely instrumental in the development of the PPM, firstly in his own departmental and faculty setting, but especially as one of the brains behind the eventual establishment of CEatUP. His efforts, alongside Dr Johan van Zyl and Professor Calie Pistorius in shaping a dedicated, stand-alone entity that could professionalize both the marketing and operation of continuing education helped create fertile conditions for the dynamic growth of the PPM.

Professor Malherbe was the first Dean to approve the programme, and thereafter Professor Calie Pistorius and Professor Sandenbergh. Without their continued support the PPM would not be what it is today. To this very day, the support of Professor Tinus Pretorius remains an invaluable ingredient of the PPM’s dynamic growth. As Head of the Graduate School of Technology Management, he continues to play an important role in ensuring that the programme gets the necessary priority and support in the broader University environment, and he has also done much heavy lifting with the marketing and related growth of the programme.

In he mid-90s Professor Herman Steyn joined, what was then the Department of Engineering and Technology Management, from industry and designed the very first PPM course outline. Through the years he has been the pillar of strength when it came to delivery. Other noteworthy contributions came from the late Professor Lombaard, who added his weight in gold with his Quality Management knowledge. After a few intakes of the PPM, Prof Krige Visser accepted responsibility for Risk Management. He has been teaching this module on almost all intakes. Prof Birgit Kuschke taught on the first intake of the PPM and on almost all other intakes since. Dr Giel Bekker joined the University in 2001 and has since been teaching both Quality Management and the final, integrative module. We have since lost the valuable contributions of the late Mr Gert Basson who was the co-author of the text book on project management that has guided our delegates through the complexities of this discipline for many years.
Current presenters and contributors to continuously enhance and update the programme are:
Dr Giel Bekker
Prof Krige Visser
Prof Birgit Prozesky-Kuschke
Prof Ebo Oost
Prof Ad Sparrius
Mr Greyling Viljoen
Prof Adriëtte Dekker
Prof Johannes de Wet
Mr Corro van Waveren
Dr Dolf Steyn
Prof Yvonne du Plessis
Mr Riaan Jansen
Mr Reniel Engelbrecht
Mr Bryan Griffiths 
Prof Marie-Louise Barry
Ms Tronel Joubert
Prof Herman Steyn


Our Fascinating Delegates


Through the course of the years, the delegates attending the PPM programme and other related courses have hailed from a wide variety of industries and even countries. The thousands of assignments completed by delegates from both the private and the public sector have contributed to the substantial improvement of the local body of knowledge on project management and the competitiveness of South Africa.

One of he most noteworthy delegates on the PPM was the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Mozambique, Mr Helder Muteia, who attended the full programme and received the PPM certificate at a ceremony in 2002. He has since sent several of the officials in his Department to enrol on the PPM.

Full PPM programmes, sometimes with special tailored content, have been conducted, among other, for the Exxaro Grootegeluk Mine and Eskom Komati Power Station. Eskom came on board as a regular client who repeatedly sends delegates for project management training.

In the construction industry, which has gone through both the best and the worst of times during the past decade, leading companies such as Group 5 Ltd have made extensive use of the CEatUP’s PPM training and it is currently the fifth time that a full, tailored Programme in Project Management is being presented to delegates of Group 5.

The CSIR (Council for Scientific & Industrial Research) also had al group of delegates enrolled for the full PPM schedule presented in-house, while other state-owned enterprises and government departments, such as the Department of Public Works of North-West Province and the Department of Agriculture and Environment of KZN also have had the whole PPM presented in-house.  The PPM has also been presented at British Aerospace – evidence of how the training of their delegates has added value in meeting the demands of their industry.

This list is by no means exhaustive, and does not make mention of the hundreds of annual delegates from smaller companies, other industries or government departments, or from other countries, too many to mention, who have all added to the rich discussions and shared learning in the PPM lecture halls.

The PPM faculty do, however, not rest on their laurels, and thanks to lecturers who are actively involved in research in project management and related aspects, the PPM programme has kept abreast of the latest developments and keeps on innovating, renewing and upgrading the course content.  And where so requested, content has often been tailored to fit the specific needs of the particular client and its team of project managers.

Suffice to say that, through direct training and through thought leadership in the field of project management research and theory, the PPM and related courses at the University of Pretoria has reached deep into the competitiveness of South Africa as a nation.


What our 2010 delegates had to say...


‘Special thanks for your commitment and sacrifices you made taking us through this course despite being done over the weekends.’
Vicky Maoko
EON Consulting (Pty) Ltd

‘Thanks for the knowledge you gave me. The tools and techniques you exposed me to. Please continue with the good work.’
Mmoloki Moyo
Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA)

‘Many thanks to CE at UP for the wonderful and informative course. With it I am now able to apply the modern ways of managing projects with the academic touch from PPM.’
Thomas Matjiane
Department of Human Settlements

‘Special thanks for all your commitment and knowledge. It was a very informative course!’
Sonia Trinidad
Tubular Construction

‘To Dr Giel Bekker, Prof Steyn, Prof Prozesky-Kuschke—thank you from the PPM 4 group. Spirit was exceptional.
Information was transferred in a manner that everyone could understand.’
Delegates from PPM 4

‘Thank you to the lecturers for their dedication. The course was very insightful and educational.
Looking forward to applying our newly acquired skills in the future.’

Sashika Naidoo,
Betty Spencer and Janette Wessels