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Making Business Management a Profession: An Interview with Devi Vallabhaneni, APBM president and CEO

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IT professionals looking for an extra edge in the job market may want to consider additional certification to demonstrate their business management and leadership abilities. Devi Vallabhaneni, APBM president and CEO, explains how the Certified Associate Business Manager (CABM) and Certified Business Manager (CBM) programs can sell your skills.

Learn more about the CABM & CBM credentials and the eBook platform via APBM's complimentary webinar on August 12, 2009 at 1pm ET. Meet Devi Vallabhaneni, CEO of APBM, who will discuss how business management skills are critical to IT professionals in today’s environment. Register for the free webinar today.

If you're interesting in becoming a member of APBM and would like to start pursuing your CABM or CBM designation, please visit www.apbm.org. A discount is available to InformIT readers for a limited time.

In this day and age, quantifiable management and leadership abilities are needed more desperately than ever. That means the first standardized programs for certifying management and leadership skills, from the Association of Professionals in Business Management (APBM), is both timely and essential. For job seekers, the certification helps candidates leapfrog to the front of an increasingly long line of hopefuls. For hiring professionals, the certifications erase doubt over skill issues and speeds the usefulness of any new hire.

InformIT sat down with Devi Vallabhaneni, president and chief executive officer of APBM, to get a better look at the Certified Associate Business Manager (CABM) and Certified Business Manager (CBM) certifications and how they play in an increasingly demanding workplace.

InformIT: CABM and CBM certifications are the first standardized programs for certifying leadership skills. Can you share some of the history behind the certifications and when they started?

Vallabhaneni: APBM is a non-profit educational organization that was founded in 2000 with the mission of making business management a profession. When compared to law, medicine, engineering, and nursing, business management was not -- and still is not -- organized as a profession. So APBM set out to establish the components of any profession: uniform knowledge standards, standardized exams, a code of professional ethics, continuing education, and research/practice standards.

InformIT: Who are the audiences for each certification?

Vallabhaneni: The Certified Associate Business Manager (CABM) certification is for individuals in entry-level functional positions who want to transition to management. Based on a pre-MBA curriculum, the CABM also prepares someone for the rigor of an MBA degree and/or the CBM Credential.

The Certified Business Manager (CBM) certification is for mid-level and senior-level managers who must demonstrate proficiency in all functional areas of management in order to advance in their careers. The CBM is a four-part, 16-hour exam that is based on an MBA-level curriculum.

InformIT: What do these certifications mean to a hiring manager? For example, if a candidate has a job in programming and holds PMP certification, what does CABM or CBM certification add to the conversation?

Vallabhaneni: Hiring managers should view the CABM and CBM credential as a objective statement that the individual has a generalist’s understanding of the enterprise. For example, a PMP with a CABM certification could be reasonably expected to have the process knowledge to manage a large, complex project and the business acumen to understand the impact of the project on the enterprise as whole.

The CABM and CBM certifications provide the context in which one moves from being a silo or functional thinker to a enterprise or strategic thinker.

InformIT: What anecdotal stories can you share from IT professionals who have earned the credentials?

Vallabhaneni: We heard from an individual who just earned his CABM. He works for a global software company and has other IT certifications. He said that while the CABM is the hardest exam he took in his 18-year career, it equipped him with the skills necessary to manage a staff of nine direct reports. He is now preparing to earn the PMP Credential and sees having both the CABM and PMP as necessary to grow in his job.

InformIT: What advice would you give hiring managers on interpreting what these certifications mean to the organization?

Vallabhaneni: The CABM/CBM Credentials mean that an organization can have confidence in an individual's cross-functional knowledge standards in business management. In other words, a previous business specialist is now a business generalist.

Companies are always looking for ways to do more with less. Having individuals who have cross-functional knowledge standards is one way to achieve greater productivity.

InformIT: Do you have any tips to share with candidates seeking certification?

Vallabhaneni: In this economy, credentials are even more important. The balance of power between employer and employee has shifted to the employer. As a result, knowledge competencies are what will give you an edge in keeping your job, getting a job, and getting into the business school of your choice. Certifications provide a third-party attestation to such knowledge competencies, so I urge IT professionals to look at their career with a long-term view in mind.

To borrow from John F. Kennedy, "It's not what your employer can do for you, but what you can do for your employer." Those who understand this will have more professional opportunities presented to them.

InformIT: Please explain the certification process. What does one need to do in order to become certified?

Vallabhaneni: Everyone is eligible to earn the CABM credential. We at APBM believe that a pre-MBA curriculum should be accessible to everyone.

The CBM has the following eligibility requirements:

  • an undergraduate degree
  • the CABM credential
  • a minimum of four years of full-time work experience

The CABM Credential is waived if the candidate has an MBA degree or eight years of full-time work experience.

After meeting eligibility requirements and completing the exam application, candidates must study the CABM or CBM Online Learning System. When they feel prepared, we help them get authorized to take the CABM/CBM Exam at Pearson VUE Testing Centers worldwide.

InformIT: Are there specific tools that help candidates achieve certification? Tell me, for example, about the eBook.

Vallabhaneni: The Pearson eBook platform allows people to bookmark, highlight, annotate, and search all content. The CABM/CBM Online Learning Systems incorporate hundreds of audio podcasts, videos, and animations. To help candidates make the most of limited study time -- and to confirm their readiness -- we provide extensive self-assessment tools. These include flashcards, comprehensive pre-tests and post-tests, and unlimited quizzes for each learning module.

InformIT: Why did you partner with Pearson on this?

Vallabhaneni: There is a lot of material covered on the CABM/CBM Exams. Previous versions of the preparation materials constituted over 4,000 pages of text and 5,000 practice questions. We needed to provide our exam candidates with preparation materials that are easy to understand and digest. We also wanted to provide exam candidates with as many learning tools as possible so that they can study in a manner that works for them.

In other words, if someone is an auditory learner, then the podcasts will be of value. If someone likes a lot of reinforcement, then the flashcards and quizzes will be most important.

We also needed a publisher who has a global scope, has an existing library of business-related content, has scalable technology platforms, and has experience with certification preparation. There is only one publisher that meets all of these requirements.

Learn more about the CABM & CBM credentials and the eBook platform via APBM's complimentary webinar on August 12, 2009 at 1pm ET. Meet Devi Vallabhaneni, CEO of APBM, who will discuss how business management skills are critical to IT professionals in today’s environment. Register for the free webinar today.

If you're interesting in becoming a member of APBM and would like to start pursuing your CABM or CBM designation, please visit www.apbm.org. A discount is available to InformIT readers for a limited time.

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