How Did I Get Here: A Career Profile of David Lewis, PMP

David Lewis, PMPHere’s the latest in my series How Did I Get Here. These are interviews of current project management professionals intended to help folks see how others made project management a career. Welcome, David Lewis!

When did you first decide to become a project manager?

I was managing a Manufacturing Engineering department at Boeing and had just finished my MBA at Cal Poly, Pomona. I was ready for a change in assignment and asked to move over to Program Management. Two weeks later I was assigned as the Program Manager for wire harness production supporting the International Space Station and have been in Program Management roles ever since.

What was your academic and/or corporate background before you became a project manager?

I served in the United States Marine Corps as an Avionics Technician and Quality Assurance Representative. After leaving the military I worked for several commercial industry companies in a variety of management positions, including Test and Assembly operations, Quality Assurance, a Customer Return/Repair Center, and Manufacturing Engineering. During this time period, I also completed my Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Technology at Cal Poly, Pomona and started work on my MBA.

I joined McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) in Huntington Beach as a Manufacturing Engineering Manager and also worked on an ERP system implementation project. This is the last role I had prior to moving to Program Management.

If you made a transition, did your company support your transition to project manager?

Very much so. I was originally assigned on a temporary basis to provide program management for the ISS wire harness production, but within three weeks they made the assignment a permanent change.

Which credential do you have?

I hold the Professional Project Manager (PMP) certification.

How has having your credential helped (or hurt?) your career?

Although I have almost 20 years of experience as a Program Manager, I did not take the test for the PMP credential until July of this year (2017). As my previous employer was planning large reductions in the senior ranks, I was looking at various opportunities in program and project management. Many of the most promising opportunities included requirements or strong preferences for PMP certification. That prompted me to do the required coursework and take the PMP Certification examination. I’m glad I took the time to earn the credential. I learned a lot which will help me in my next role and many opportunities are now open to me which would not have been without my PMP credential.

What advice would you give an aspiring project manager?

I would really recommend doing the coursework and taking the CAPM exam as a good starting point. The experience requirements for the CAPM credential are much less rigorous and you can substitute educational hours for the 1500 hours of project experience. You also don’t need to have a college degree, although I would recommend pursuing one if you intend to stay in project management as most of the more senior level positions will also require a degree in a relevant field to go along with a PMP Certification. Having a degree also lowers the number of project management experience hours required to obtain the PMP credential.

While I was looking at various opportunities I noticed many of the entry-level project manager positions preferred at least CAPM certification or formal training in project management methodologies. Holding the CAPM credential tells a potential employer you have that training and that you have been tested on that knowledge by PMI.

Any final advice?

Even as a PMP you should keep learning. Take advantage of various workshop and roundtable opportunities and take advantage of the webinars that are available through projectmangement.com. Many are free, available on demand, and PDUs are available and automatically loaded to your PMI account. You need 60 PDUs anyway to recertify every three years and you can stay current with developments in the project management subject areas. You should also be taking a serious look at Agile methodologies as a growing number of employers are requiring or preferring exposure for potential job candidates.


Dave Lewis lives in the Denver area and enjoys horseback riding and Broncos football. He is a Marine Corps veteran and has a wide range of experience in both the commercial and aerospace/defense industry. He has worked in production program management roles for both Boeing and United Launch Alliance and is known for building high-performance teams which drive program success and contribute to bottom-line results. Dave has a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Technology and an MBA from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and also holds the PMP credential. You can contact Dave at dwlewis944@gmail.com.