What is Another Name for a Program Director?

It’s always interesting seeing what people are looking for when they come along to the Arras People website – they ask questions that I wouldn’t normally think about. One of them,

What is another name for a Program Director?


Well first of all there is a difference in grammar anyway for the UK versus other parts of the world, we generally call them “Programme Directors” not “Program Directors”.

Apart from that you might see a Programme Director just referred to as a Programme Manager or senior Programme Manager – the director level responsibilities will be indicted in the job description but because an orgnaisation doesn’t even use the term “Director” in their organisation for any level of role they’ll just use manager.

The alternative title is also something along the lines of “Head of Programme Management”, especially if it is a role that is a senior level position responsible for all the programmes that are running within an organisation. But of course that might also be referred to as a “Director of Programme Management”.

This is where it becomes tricky because a Programme Director may be a position that is referring to management of a very large programme – a single programme. But the title is still used to denote someone who is really a “Head of Programmes”. Organisations really do have their own culture around job titles which can make it difficult sometimes.

I know, confusing right?

Just to be really clear, we’re only referring to a Program Director in the world of PPM (programme and project management) and not TV or media, where you’ll also find a program director.

Sometimes we’ve also see titles like Vice President (VP) Programme Management, Programme Management Executive and Principal Programme Manager.

So there you have it – another name for a programme / program director.

Have you got anymore to add??

Share: Linkedin Logo Facebook Logo Twitter Logo


  1. Lindsay, it get’s worse than that…….

    A group of us at GAPPS spent a couple of years following up on the research of Sergio Pellegrinelli, trying to define what a PROGRAM was and the BEST we could come up with was 4 generic “buckets” of definitions- http://globalpmstandards.org/tools/complexity-rating/program-typology/

    So if we cannot even agree on what a PROGRAM is, how on Earth can we even begin to try to define what a “Program Manager” is????

    Bottom line- I hate to say it but this is pretty much a worthless exercise that will go nowhere…….. Why? Because NO ONE is willing to change their definition and unless we all can agree on a single definition, then we will continue to have a veritable “Tower of Babel” out there. Think it only applies to “Program”? Go visit Max Widemans Comparative Glossary and see how many DIFFERENT definitions there are for “Project” or “Project Manager”………

    Better things to do with our time than this kind of debate….

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia

    1. Dr PDG, are you not reading too much into this?

      We are a broad church, there are many practitioners, there are many questions and as far as I am aware it’s always better to ask than assume?

      In my own experience I worked with many professionals (myself included) who would have flexible job titles “names” to suit the audience.

      “Director” was often appended when it was perceived that a level of gravitas was required to get the attention of some stakeholders. Though occasionally it would appear to be for self aggrandizement 🙂

      As we see on many occasions the title does not necessarily change what a practitioner does or delivers. It is though interesting, especially in the field of recruitment where a job title can cause much confusion.

      1. Fair points, John….. The problem or challenge is, with the efforts of APM in particular to “professionalize” the practice of project management, “job titles” become of considerable importance…….

        the DOCTOR has decided to operate……. The ARCHITECT or ENGINEER has approved….. the PILOT IN COMMAND has declared an emergency……

        There is both real and implied authority which goes with a professional title and unless we can ever decide what a “project manager” is and what it is we do, then there is no way we can ever improve the professional image of project managers……

        I hate to keep trotting this out, but Dilbert demonstrates EXACTLY why the job title is so important….. http://dilbert.com/strip/2011-11-22

        Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia

        1. Dr. PDG

          I am not sure that the APM’s efforts to “professionalize” does impact the need to have standardized job titles. If I look at the very few candidates in our database who have achieved the RPP (Registered Project Professional) accreditation (?) then we see a host of different job titles. I also know personally people who work in Training and Education, other fields and some who are retired who have claimed their RPP.

          If I am not mistaken the aim is to recognize competence and skill in the field of “project management” not to say they are “project managers” Otherwise the APM would have to create a RPP test for each job role and then come up with a way of differentiating by role.

          In terms of Doctor, Architect etc… there will be many professionally accredited people with different job titles which reflect what they are doing today. This does not take away the fact that they can call themselves a xxx (assuming they pay their dues)

          Re dilbert, yes it is an issue but people will assume and be given titles and we are going to have to live with that. Surely the challenge is to differentiate between infiltrator, poor, average, great and fantastic practitioner and the field in which they operate? (note I did not use the word professional!)

          1. Hi John, here is a posting I made to Linda Bourne (Mosaic) which addresses many of the issues you’ve raised………

            Sorry Linda but putting lipstick on a pig does not make it beautiful…… Underneath, it still remains what it is….

            In the case of project management, unlike law or medicine or teaching, it is not based on a “body of knowledge” which is in any way “unique, esoteric, complicated or special” which is the basis for all existing professions. Not only is our “body of knowledge” not unique we cannot control who can access it…… (which is why law and medicine were based on Latin and Greek)

            The ONLY “accomplishment” the Privy Council achieved is going to result in a “restraint of trade” which Elliott Friedman pointed out when he stated “the only difference between the trade unions and the professional societies lies in their sanctimoniousness…..”

            While your words sound very nice, in practice I just don’t see it playing out the way you propose….

            “raise standards through a robustly assessed register of project professionals who are committed to professional development and a code of conduct;”

            [PDG] AACE has been around since 1956, and both PMI and IPMA since what, the mid to late 1960’s? And given they all have “Codes of Ethics” don’t you think that if that was a determining factor that by now we would have seen significant improvement in project delivery?

            “enhance the status and recognition of project management as a means of delivering effective change that improves our economy and society;”

            [PDG] Not to make light of it, but Dilbert captured the very essence of “project management as a profession” in this cartoon- http://dilbert.com/strip/2011-11-22

            “facilitate continued collaboration and research with other professions to develop the practice and theory of delivering successful change across sectors and industries.”

            [PDG] Honestly do you really believe this? As evidenced by the taming of fire, invention of the wheel, the Pyramids of Egypt, Great Wall of China along with all the wonders of the ancient and modern world, there is plenty of evidence that the “practice and theory” of project management is not only well established but one could argue that the propensity to “do” projects is somehow hard wired into the human psyche- that if we as humans don’t have “projects” to keep us occupied, that we INVENT them….

            Bottom line- project management is part and parcel of what makes us “human”- one of those traits which distinguishes us from the animals….. Why not just accept it for what it is and not try to make it into something it is NOT?

            Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia

Leave your thoughts