Mentoring in Project Management

“My ultimate goal has always been to impart knowledge. Many Ukrainian civil servants may not even realize that project management is a discipline in its own right. However, it’s crucial for them to comprehend what projects entail and how they operate. They require a fundamental understanding, and I’m here to provide that. The realization that I can assist someone truly invigorates me,” Ella Orishaka, a mentor in the Recovery and Resilience program, expresses.

Ms. Ella, along with ten other project management professionals, participated in training representatives from regional state administrations, municipalities, and regional development agencies.

Over two months, public officials, under the mentorship of these professionals, were tasked with developing their own projects and drafting grant applications that could potentially secure future funding.

For the Foundation’s team, the participants, and the mentors, this marked their first unique experience of such collaboration. However, we can now affirm that it was a successful and mutually beneficial endeavor.  In this narrative, we delve into the program from the mentors’ viewpoint and share their experiences of working with public servants.

Photo: Participants and mentors at the final meeting of the Recovery and Resilience program


Ella Orishaka has always possessed an insatiable thirst for new knowledge and a desire to venture into uncharted territories. While employed at one of the nation’s largest banks, Ella discovered her interest in project activities.

“I was heading a department at the time, and I requested to transition to a managerial role in the project department. However, I was turned down. They claimed it was a challenging field with a vast theoretical component. I anticipated this, given that I was already past 50 and had been labeled a ‘pensioner’,” Ms. Ella reminisces.

Photo: Ella Orishaka with other mentors of the Recovery and Resilience program


Despite facing such biases, Ms. Ella embarked on a self-study journey with PMBOK, the essential guide for project managers.

Even though her request was denied, the project department staff extended their support to Ella. It was through them that she learned about the PMP (Project Management Professional) certification.

“I decided that I didn’t want to be labeled a ‘pensioner’. I’ve never been fond of that perspective on life. Age is just a number to me. So, I persevered with my studies and eventually passed the exam, earning my certification in 2020. I am likely the oldest PMP in Ukraine,” Ella Orishaka proudly states.

Photo: Ms. Ella with the participants of the Recovery and Resilience program


Dmytro Pishyi, another mentor in the Recovery and Resilience program, also shares his journey:

“I’ve been a manager for approximately 15 years, with the last five years dedicated to project management. Along the way, I realized the importance of having structured knowledge and being acquainted with the methodologies and principles of project management. Therefore, I decided to enhance my knowledge to prepare for the PMP exam.”


Photo: Dmytro Pishyi, a mentor in the Recovery and Resilience program


In 2022, Dmytro earned his certification and became a member of the PMI Ukraine Chapter community. He believes this membership offers robust networking opportunities, the ability to pose previously unasked questions, and the chance to participate in volunteer projects.

Dmytro has already imparted knowledge to students at Zhytomyr and Kyiv Polytechnics. Now, in collaboration with his colleagues from the PMI Ukraine Chapter, he lectures at Zaporizhzhia Polytechnic.

“Upon joining the PMI Ukraine Chapter, I realized I was prepared to invest my time and expertise to guide others. This presented an opportunity to demonstrate the ways to simplify complex concepts. Having traversed this path myself, I am delighted to share my experiences.

I hope students will continue to utilize and expand upon the knowledge they’ve acquired. After all, the more knowledgeable individuals we have, the more beneficial it is for our country’s economy. The impact of this is far-reaching,” Dmytro Pishyi concludes.

The specialists discovered the Recovery and Resilience program and the chance to educate public servants through the chapter. Another program mentor, Mykhailo Virych, reflects:

“I was intrigued by the opportunity to join East Europe Foundation’s program. It appealed to me for two reasons. Firstly, it offered a chance to gain insights into the public sector, an area I had not personally explored before. Secondly, I was eager to contribute meaningfully to Ukraine’s recovery.”

For Mr. Mykhailo, this marked his inaugural experience as a mentor in such a project. Upon completion of the program, he confesses:

“It was both interesting and beneficial for me, and I believe it was equally so for my mentees.”

Photo: Mykhailo Virych, a mentor in the Recovery and Resilience program


Mykhailo Virych mentored three teams: representatives from the Dnipro City Council and two groups from the Zaporizhzhia Regional State Administration.

“The team from the Department of Economics of the Zaporizhzhia Regional State Administration devised a project for barrier-free access to administrative services in eight regional ASCs. Participants from Dnipro focused on enhancing the city’s interactive map with valuable information for its residents. Meanwhile, a representative from the Department of Foreign Economic Activity of the Regional State Administration worked on creating an investment space for the region,” Mykhailo explains.

He got lucky with mentees – all three teams were active and eager to learn. Regular weekly meetings were scheduled with the teams to work on projects and plan subsequent steps. Constant communication through messaging platforms throughout the collaboration period facilitated swift feedback and ensured adherence to the schedule.

Both Mykhailo Virych and Dmytro Pishyi agree that their goal was not merely to instruct the participants on how to work, but to instill an understanding of why certain methods were more effective.

“In the beginning, we invested considerable time in familiarizing the participants with the methodologies and the envisioned outcome. This upfront effort paid off as we had to make fewer adjustments later on. I was able to not only guide them on specific points but also impart an understanding of project management principles and the creation of relevant documentation,” Mykhailo shares.

Approximately 40 Ukrainian civil servants participated in the Recovery and Resilience training, with over half reaching the final stage and developing a total of 11 grant applications.

The PMI experts collectively provided about 600 hours of mentoring support to their teams.

“At the program’s conclusion, I initiated the creation of a register encompassing all the projects developed by the participants. I dedicated about six hours to this task. This structure offers a comprehensive overview and the capability to track project changes. From my experience, I know this is a useful and highly convenient tool. The Foundation’s team will be able to utilize this template in the future,” Dmytro Pishyi states.

Indeed, the mentors’ contributions have proven to be invaluable, not only within the Recovery and Resilience program but also in the broader approach to planning new projects.

All the experts involved in training the public servants have expressed their willingness to participate in our future project management initiatives.

“We’ve sparked interest in the discipline. The participants realized the necessity of this knowledge in their work. I believe all the participants who reached the final stage recognized their growth over the months. This is a tremendous outcome for a pilot project!” Ella Orishaka shares her program impressions.

She further adds that, in her view, the program’s success hinged on the mentoring component, as practical experience is crucial.

“A mentor is someone who can share specific experiences and provide detailed guidance on what to do and what to avoid. No webinar or course can teach at this level. That’s why I am grateful to the Foundation and its partners who invest significantly in implementing such programs,” Ms. Ella concludes.

The Recovery and Resilience Program was executed by East Europe Foundation, funded by the Federal Government of Germany and supported by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.