Interview with


Sierra Hampton- Simmons

Director and Portfolio Leader, Certification Products
Project Management Institute (PMI)

Interviewed by Ipek Sahra Ozguler
International Correspondent
Istanbul, Turkey

Introduction to interviewee

Sierra Hampton-Simmons has nearly two decades of experience as an expert in Certification Management with a track record for transforming and developing lucrative brands to include relevant performance-based testing and training. She joined PMI in 2013 and currently serves as the Director & Portfolio Leader of Certification Products. At PMI Sierra is responsible for the entire portfolio of Certification Products including the PMP credential-the gold standard in project management credentials.  Immediately prior to joining PMI, she was the Manager, Certification Operations at Cisco Systems, Inc. where she directed daily operations for a global development team in creating leading IT certification programs including the world-class CCNA and CCNP. Prior to Cisco, Sierra had a 12-year career with Citrix Education where she managed a team in design and development of the most advanced curricula and certifications for their global programs. Sierra also served as the President of the Performance Testing Council for three years after being an active member of their Board of Directors. Sierra is a graduate of Georgetown University with a Bachelor of Science in Japanese and International Business.

Ipek Sahra Ozguler (Ozguler): Good morning Sierra. On January 2, 2021 PMI launched an updated version of the PMP® certification exam. What was the reason for this change?

Sierra Hampton-Simmons (Simmons): Good morning, Ipek. Thank you for giving me the opportunity of an interview.

Over the past five years, we have seen the project management profession experience a shift in demand from solely relying on and valuing technical skills to a greater emphasis on a much more diverse tool kit. Agile and hybrid approaches, for example, are becoming more widely utilized than ever. We’ve also seen continued emphasis on certain soft skills – which we call ‘power’ skills – including collaborative leadership, empathy, and more.

As a result, our Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification exam has been modernized to reflect these evolving needs in the profession. Like every iteration of the PMP® certification exam, this new exam was designed to help maintain the certification’s relevancy in the current business environment by providing our members and certification holders with the most valuable skills to apply to the world we are living in.

Ozguler:        Can you provide more detail on what specific changes were made to the exam and how the new exam will benefit project managers?

Simmons:     The biggest update to the PMP® exam is that the content now focuses on three new domains: people, process, and business environment. The exam will include scenarios and themes, from regulation to sustainability, to bring these domains to life. We’ve also updated the exam to include more content on the many agile ways of working, including new agile frameworks, new technologies, and improved practices. As mentioned, modern ways of working are constantly changing extremely rapidly, and we had the opportunity to include content in the exam process covering ways of working that may not have worked five years ago.

Ozguler:         In present day, the workforce is rapidly evolving. Why is the PMP® such a vital certification to have as a project manager to help navigate this constant change?


To read entire interview, click here

How to cite this interview: Ozguler, I.S. (2021). Interview with Sierra Hampton-Simmons, PM World Journal, Vol. X, Issue IV, April. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/pmwj104-Apr2021-Ozguler-Interview-with-Sierra-Hampton-Simmons.pdf


About the Interviewer

Ipek Sahra Ozguler

Istanbul, Turkey


Ipek Sahra Ozguler graduated from the Istanbul University, Turkey with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering and from Middle East Technical University, Turkey with an MSc degree in Software Management. As a project manager, she has more than 13 years of experience in various areas such as portfolio management, program management, project management, software management, business analysis. She became a certified PMP in 2012 and a certified SCRUM Master in 2014.

She has gained broader insights in a variety of projects across manufacturing, defence, FMCG (Cola Cola), insurance (Euler Hermes), audit (Deloitte), telecommunication, aviation and finance sectors. In addition, she has been working as an international correspondent for the PM World Journal since 2014.

Ipek is the creator and editor of the highly acclaimed book, The Perspective of Women Project Management Professionals, interviews with leading female PM experts and professionals around the world. The book was published in March 2020 and is available here.

Ipek is based in Istanbul,Turkey and can be contacted at ipeksahra@gmail.com. Her portfolio is published at the http://ipeksahra.strikingly.com/ and https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/ipek-sahra-ozguler/.