Catherine Parks, PMP, has served as a senior IT project manager in the state-regulated cannabis industry, business manager for the American Academy of Pediatrics, and finance director for the Nashville Symphony.
Cathy, how did you get into project management? I was working for a supply chain tracking company whose clients are government entities regulating the legal cannabis industry. I worked with several excellent project management professionals, deploying statewide software projects. The common thread among these professionals is that they were all PMI-certified PMPs. I also noticed that many of the RFP bids that we were competing for required the project manager to be a PMP. I soon found myself studying for the PMI-ACP and the PMP exams — thankfully passing both!
What do you love most about the work? I really enjoy the people. I am thankful for the PMI community support and especially the online continuing professional education that fits easily into my busy schedule. Disruptive technology projects can be extremely stressful for our partners, so whenever we can bring proven solutions then the whole project team can relax and actually enjoy the fast pace of deploying software.
What do you find most challenging or frustrating? Working in the software development lifecycle field, my main challenge is managing scope creep. It is critical to both protect our software development team working in sprints and to build trust and confidence in our relationship with our partners. I love balancing both the delivery of working software and managing expectations of all stakeholders.
What's your proudest professional achievement? Passing the PMP and the PMI-ACP exams on my first attempt and being recognized as a key player in a successful emerging industry.
What's the best piece of advice you've received or can share? When in doubt, just do your job. And: trust and respect your team, be a servant leader.
How has PMI helped you in your work and career? My professional certifications placed me as a top candidate for a dream job and the opportunity to join a successful, dynamic team in a world-class company, NIC Licensing [which provides digital solutions to government partners]. My PMP and PMI-Agile certifications have had a direct benefit for my employer when responding to competitive RFPs that require this level of expertise and personnel.
What interests or hobbies do you have outside work? Spending time at home, traveling, reading fiction and staying physically active with my husband and our three young men. Being a creative visual artist and showing my artwork in galleries and exhibitions. Volunteering for nonprofits that promote and expand the arts and culture to underserved communities.
Favorite TV show, artist or movie? Henri Matisse, Helen Frankenthaler and Joan Mitchell. I love to stream British crime series shows (Scott and Bailey, Shetland, Sherlock) and any artist or chef documentaries. This year we will be watching our son playing college football on ESPN 2.
Best vacation? Birthday weekend trip to Hotel 21c, Louisville, when my husband proposed, and we saw great art!
To connect with Catherine, visit her ProjectManagement.com profile.